Bobinac: “We set benchmarks in several aspects”

C4 9374 EHF / Courtney Gahan

Franjo Bobinac is a great sports enthusiast, a sports official and also a sports marketing specialist. The CEO of Slovenian top brand Gorenje is President of the Slovenian Handball Federation since 2008, member of the executive board of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia since 2018, and in April 2021, he became a member of the Executive Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF).

In this interview, Bobinac draws an intermediate conclusion of the Women’s EHF EURO 2022, which his federation is co-hosting with Montenegro and North Macedonia, in terms of sporting aspects and the future of Slovenian women’s handball, but also talks on the goals beyond: women’s empowerment and sustainability.

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: What do you think about the success of the tournament overall?

Franjo Bobinac: "First of all, we are grateful to be able to organise this kind of tournament after so many years since we organised the Men’s EHF EURO. So, we were and we are very proud. Together with the co-hosts North Macedonia and Montenegro we are doing something great, even beyond the sporting parts. And some highlights are still to come. We wanted to be different, we wanted to be unique and to bring some other issues like the sports and business conference, the Ball of Thousand Touches that travelled from Celje to Ljubljana, or getting children involved in designing different things around the handball game. Last but not least, sustainability is another main pillar. The first pillar above all is still women's empowerment and balance. At the end of the day, it is our aim to bring more girls to our beautiful game.

In this aspect, we were able to gain 16 great female ambassadors from top business, politics, diplomacy, artists and so on. Besides, the newly elected president of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar, was cheering together with us during the games, this is a great thing. We attracted a lot of fans from Slovenia, like those 6,000 against Norway. Slovenia were playing a great game, and I think we re-united Slovenia in a way how the girls were playing: strong, with a lot of passion, with trust in each other and with a lot of energy.

The final weekend with in total six games is still to come. I believe, Slovenia have shown that they are not only a great sports country with all the effort and talents, but also great organiser with their hospitality or good food and drinks. That is why the Slovenian tourism board is a strong sponsor of our event among others. I would like to thank the enthusiastic organising committees from both EHF and local organisers, but also to media representatives. Thank you for being the bridge between the athletes and the fans. But also, I thank the sponsors like the government of Slovenia and companies, who participated a lot to make this tournament happens."

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ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: You mentioned these pillars like sustainability and women's empowerment. How do you see the role of events like this? Why is it important for you to have those kinds of underlying messages aside from the sport?

Franjo Bobinac: "First, it is about being unique and being different. It is like in life: you need to differentiate. For us, those two pillars are clear differentiator. We wanted to be the best in class, a benchmark, and I think we succeeded. Like in sustainability, as we appointed a sustainability manager and we started more than 100 different activities. Not only using sustainable energy and electronic cars, but also small things that that will remain. So, at the end of the day, we will measure the effect of our activities, the so-called carbon emission and will report on it. All future organisers will look at us and say: they did it. Let's continue like them, let's compete with them. I believe upcoming events are going to be also very important in this direction.

Women's empowerment is also part of sustainability. However, I am in a way sad that we need to put this kind of things in front, but we need because of us. It is about human beings, and we are still not there yet. That's why we need to talk about this. That's why we organise different conferences and give statements. I really like to encourage all of us – men and women – to continue that way."

20221117 EURO Bobinac Quote
The first pillar above all is women's empowerment and balance. At the end of the day, it is our aim to bring more girls to our beautiful game. I think we re-united Slovenia in a way how the girls were playing: strong, with a lot of passion, with trust in each other and with a lot of energy.
Franjo Bobinac
Slovenia Handball Federation President

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: How do you see your collaboration with the other co-hosts? You mentioned many things that you approached your way in Slovenia, but you also of course all work together? How did that work?

Franjo Bobinac: "At the beginning, it is always challenging. However, we have a huge respect towards each other. When we put together the organising teams and committees and working methods, I think we exchanged a lot of good ideas. When talking about women’s empowerment and sustainability, I think my colleagues did not only follow us, but highly participated."

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: About women's handball in Slovenia, it seems the team have helped cement a really strong legacy from this tournament. The players themselves have said that they really hope this helps to get lot more girls and young women playing handball. What do you think about that element?

Franjo Bobinac: "A lot of families came to us with their kids. I think that will help to increase and to raise the popularity of our beautiful sport in Slovenia, because it is not only to compete among sports like young girls going to volleyball, or basketball, or football or handball. It is also to compete against the computer, as kids are staying too much on social media. It is a really much better to go to trainings and be part of the social and cultural life and to move more."

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ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: Slovenia hosted a lot of big sports events in the last year, like the Handball Junior World Championship and in other sports. How do you see that for Slovenia, in general, hosting all these big sports events?

Franjo Bobinac: "We have great organisers, we are working with a top agency and with a lot of volunteers. Also, the Slovenian tourist board is promoting Slovenia as a sports destination a lot, as the destination to organise big sports events and also as a place where different clubs or national teams can come to prepare for tournaments. We can offer beautiful resorts, hotels, training facilities, organisers and a lot of support and great hospitality of course."

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: Unfortunately, Slovenia are not going to compete on the final weekend, but what are you looking forward to about this last weekend here?

Franjo Bobinac: "Still, we are organising a couple of top events connected to women's empowerment, and we have a gala dinner in which we combine regional co-hosts and some top representatives from the European handball family. We host the meeting of the EHF Executive Committee this weekend and also media representatives gathering at Ljubljana Castle with some top sport champions, such as Slovenia Olympic gold medallist in skiing, Tina Maze. So, a lot will be going on here in Ljubljana."

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