Ljubljana 1-Star event a shining light at the end of the tunnel

Ljubljana, Slovenia. Although the organisers from the Volleyball Federation of Slovenia did not exactly know what to expect and they were aware of the potential risk that they were to deal with, they can now confirm that hosting the Beach Volleyball World Tour 1-Star event in Ljubljana was the right decision. Seeing the joy of players who felt things are slowly heading back to normal and full stands at the iconic Congress Square was a true reward for their hard work and efforts. 

“In sport, you have to give your very best if you want to reach your goals. It is the same with us, the organisers. There are no results if you do not take any risks. Sometimes you need to be bold and we decided that we would be bold. We organised a tournament in a period when nobody dares to do it and I am sure that Slovenia is now an example of how to pull things through. We showed it is possible to organise an international event on a high level,” commented Metod Ropret, the President of the Volleyball Federation of Slovenia.

“However, I have to point out that we were following all measures issued by the Slovenian Institute of Public Health at all times. We were aware that things could easily go wrong, as they went in Zadar, Croatia at the tennis event [hosted by Novak Djokovic] and we did not want for something similar to happen to us. We are aware that an infection case could happen, but being responsible makes things easier for everybody, for players, staff, and spectators. We hosted 49 teams from 10 countries in Ljubljana and many people expressed their interest in the event. We are happy that so many people followed the matches from the stands where the 400 available seats were taken at practically all times, even in rainy conditions. It showed us how much people miss sport and helped us deliver a Beach Volleyball spectacle in the heart of Ljubljana.” 

Ropret wants to encourage other organisers to follow in the footsteps of the Slovenian Federation: “In the end, I can say that Slovenia became a light on the end of the tunnel and an example to follow. I understand that sometimes it is difficult to make this kind of decision, but we need to push Volleyball and Beach Volleyball forward. Of course, nobody can guarantee absolute security, but we strongly believed that as long as we were cautious, everything would be fine,” added Ropret. 

Home hero Tadej Boženk was among the standout performers at the 1-Star tournament held this past weekend in Ljubljana 

The anti-coronavirus measures were not the only thing with which organisers and players had to cope with during the event. Extreme temperatures on the third day of the tournament bothered players, before rain followed on Sunday and temperatures dropped by some 15 degrees all at once. “I think the semi-final match against Austria’s Christoph Dressler and Alexander Huber was the toughest match I have ever played. It was so hot I could barely breathe and besides that, I am still not in a perfect physical condition. I remember that the tournament in Malaysia was a challenge too because of high humidity, but far away from what I have experienced on Saturday,” explained Slovenia’s home star Tadej Boženk. On the other hand, the women’s tournament finalist Cecilie Køllner Olsen prefers high temperatures to the rainy conditions that marked the final day of the event: “Ljubljana was amazing, we really had a good time and I am sure we will be back next year. The organisers just need to take care of the weather. This was too much alike the weather in Denmark.” 

The most promising young Slovenian players enjoyed performing on the court set up at the iconic Congress Square in Ljubljana 

Slovenian organisers did not want to cut off the tradition of hosting the grand finale of the national championship for younger categories next to the World Tour 1-Star tournament and decided to press ahead with the initial plan. The best four U-14, U-16, U-18, and U-20 teams fought for national titles at the centre court at Congress Square on Friday and showed their skills to 400 spectators, who occupied all available seats on the stands.

CEV – European Volleyball