We had the opportunity to talk to the former Serbian football player and one of the most successful Serbian football coaches - Slaviša Jokanović.
Slaviša started his playing career in his hometown - Novi Sad. During his career, he played for Vojvodina and Partizan, and he started his international career in Spain. There he played for Real Oviedo, Tenerife and Deportivo la Coruna. From there, he went to English Chelsea. He ended his playing career in the Spanish second league, Ciudad Murcia. Jokanovic also played for the national team of Yugoslavia, for which he scored 10 goals in 64 national team matches.
He started his successful coaching career at Partizan, where he became the first coach in the history of the club to defend the double crown. He started his international managerial career at Thai Muangtong United, where he won the Thai championship. He also led the Bulgarian Levski, the Israeli teams Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv, as well as Hercules from Spain. He left a significant mark in England, where he introduced two teams to the Premier League - Watford and Fulham.
Slaviša currently has a new engagement at Sheffield United, where he came as the first foreign coach in the history of the club. His goal is to repeat his success and win a place in the highest rank of the competition in English football.
We were interested in what a man with such a rich experience in the field of sports has to say about the education of young people. How important is schooling, and is it feasible to play sports and go to school at the same time?
Read below what Slaviša Jokanović has to say to young athletes.
1. How much do you think that playing sports can contribute to the development of a young person and what benefits does it bring?
Playing sports is important for physical as well as mental health. Sport brings many benefits, and everyone should play sports regardless of age. Young people can learn and gain a lot through sports. It is the best way to get used to the obligations, learn to function in a team, acquire work habits and discipline. Sport is, among other things, a kind of game and enjoyment and it is desirable to practice it not only in youth but also later on.
2. How important do you think education is?
Everything that sports give you, education also provides. You need to be mentally and physically healthy to get an education. Playing sports is only one part of your life, and schooling should bring you to a state where you will benefit from it all your life. There's never enough knowledge, and there is always room for learning. Professional sport is never big security. I want to say that many dreamed of being professional athletes and played only on one card, which in my opinion is wrong. Even if you are a professional athlete, it is a profession that lasts quite a short time, and you spend a much longer part of your life in a sphere where you need knowledge and education. If we compare education and sports, education is perhaps even more important because it is something without which it is impossible to live nowadays, or it is much harder.
3. Would you recommend to young people that, if the conditions allow it, in addition to playing sports get educated to the highest levels?
There are many other ways to live without playing professional sports. In any case, playing sports, even just for fun, brings benefits in schooling - in a healthy body, a healthy spirit, as they say in our country. There is never enough knowledge, without any dilemma, I would advise young people to get more and better education, because sooner or later that acquired knowledge will help you in life. So, I will repeat, without sports it is possible, but without education, it is much harder.
4. When I said that if the conditions allow it, I meant, in addition to the financial conditions, also the time. Sport, if it is at a high level, requires a lot of time and that is why professors must have an understanding of athletes. Do you agree with me?
Sport is a very unusual thing. The first information that people receive about sports is from top athletes, but there are far fewer of them. Focusing only on sports is very risky. For some, it passes, but it has always been a minority. A much safer card is to play on school. In the end, these two things can be done at the same time, and that is perhaps the best combination.
5. Our agency enables young athletes to play sports, and get educated at the same time. What do you think about such a possibility?
I know a lot of people who finished school with the help of sports. That is certainly one of the benefits of sports. America is the destination of many of our people who want to study and play sports at the same time. It is a great option and I am glad that many people want to get an education with the help of sports. This is one of the best combinations to connect two useful and interesting things.
America is the destination of many of our people who want to study and play sports at the same time. It is a great option and I am glad that many people want to get an education with the help of sports.Slaviša Jokanović, professional football manager and former player
6. Finally, what would you say to young athletes who are now developing their careers? What is the key to success?
Some of the most important things are continuity, perseverance, and faith in yourself. In this life, everything is possible and you should try to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you in life - both in sports and in other spheres of life.