The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) estimates the national emergency measures introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19 are stopping 100,000 young footballers from training with their clubs. To help, the federation has started #vježbajdoma or ‘practise at home’. Every day, first division youth team fitness coaches as well as players post a video on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram giving personal tips on how to keep fit and practise new skills without crossing the boundaries of social distance.
“Fortunately, we live in times when we can reach anybody’s home with digital technology,” says Petar Krpan, the HNS’s Under-17 head coach, who created the campaign with HNS fitness instructor Ivan Krakan. “We believe this is the ideal way to motivate these youngsters to work on their fitness during these challenging times.”
In addition to helping young footballers cope with isolation, the federation has produced a video featuring the entire national team squad. Shown on national television, the players appeal to thousands of Croatian football fans to comply with key WHO and health ministry recommendations on slowing the spread of the virus. National stars are also playing their part in #vježbajdoma.
Solidarity and social responsibility
The HNS is also donating €130,000 to five Croatian hospitals – in the capital Zagreb as well as Osijek, Pula, Rijeka and Split – to purchase equipment and medical supplies for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. “Although football is also extremely affected economically by this pandemic, we believe this is a time for solidarity and social responsibility, which is why we have made this donation,” said HNS president Davor Šuker.
After Croatia’s biggest earthquake in 140 years shook the capital, Zagreb, on 22 March, at the same time that people were following social distancing regulations, the national team collected more than €600,000 in response to coronavirus and earthquake aid appeals Croatia against Coronavirus and Together for Zagreb.
“We stand with all our hearts with the people who have shown great courage, ability and strength in this crisis, from doctors and nurses, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and members of the civil protection force to the people who work daily for us to live as normally as possible, such as shop workers, delivery drivers and many others. We will win together again,” the Croatian national team and professional staff said in a joint statement.