Germany, May 23, 2014: Newly-elected FIBA Europe President Turgay Demirel, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann and FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak are among the basketball notaries in Europe and beyond urging the worldwide basketball community to rally together in support of the grief-stricken communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.
The three nations have been plunged into a humanitarian crisis as a consequence of the worst recorded floods since the records began 120 years ago.
Daily life has subsequently been put on hold in the former Yugoslav countries, including basketball, with Kombank Arena and Pionir Arena – which typically would host among other things the games of Partizan Belgrade and Crvena Zvezda Belgrade – being transformed into refuge shelters for flood victims.
Demirel, who is also the President of the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF), in making his plea for the basketball community to come together at this difficult time, also made mention of recent tragedies in his own nation.
“It has been a challenging few weeks for several of the countries that are vital parts of the European basketball family. In Turkey, we are still reeling from the deaths of more than 300 miners in the accident at Soma on 13 May,” he said.
“This week, our friends in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia are confronted with lethal floods that have devastated people throughout the Balkans. Sport and basketball are integral parts of the social fabric of these countries, and now is the time for us, as a basketball family, to show our solidarity with and support for all those affected during these challenging times.”
Baumann also lent his voice to the plea for assistance and unity in helping out the affected countries.
“We are extremely saddened to see the devastating impact of the floods which hit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia last weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the three countries at this very difficult time. This tragedy calls for the basketball community to come together as one and help these people to get through the difficult times ahead,” he said.
Novak pointed to the tragedy as an event which reminds every one of the real priorities.
“At a tragic time like this, we regain our perspective on life and are reminded that basketball is just a game,” he said.
“In life, there are much more important issues at hand and it is important that we now address these current issues facing our brothers in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and provide assistance in every appropriate manner possible.”
Serbian basketball legend Dejan Bodiroga, now the Vice-President of his national basketball federation (KSS) and a board member of FIBA Europe, spoke specifically about the situation facing his home nation.
“Serbia has been struck by disastrous floods of catastrophic proportion. The damage done is enormous. I kindly ask our basketball family and all people of good will from Europe and worldwide to help Serbia in these difficult times for our nation,” he said.
Bodiroga’s neighbour and fellow FIBA Europe Board Member Mirsad Djonlagic from Bosnia and Herzegovina provided an insight of just how far-spread the damage is in his country.
“It is very hard to describe fully how tragic the situation is in Bosnia and Herzegovina right now. More than 950,000 people are displaced from their flooded and ruined homes. More than half of the country’s territory is flooded, with all border crossings towards Croatia and Serbia closed,” he said.
“It is, so to say, an historic flood and I am free to say of biblical proportions, of such an enormous extent that has never before been registered.
“All material and financial means are deficient and missing, so any help to overcome this urgent situation is valuable and necessary.” —- Fibaeurope