The Croatian ambassador has been to Partille Cup 20 times
Kazimir Ilijas was selected to Partille Cup’s Hall of Fame in 2015. The Croatian ambassador first came here back in 1993.
Partille Cup's ambassador Kazimir Ilijas has helped teams from Croatia to come to Partille Cup for many years. In fact, several players in the Croatian national team started their international career during Partille Cup.
When did you first get in touch with Partille Cup and how many times have you been to the tournament?
– My first encounter with Partille Cup was as a player when I was 13 years old, when my older teammates came back from Partille Cup. Then, as now, retelling everything about the opening ceremony, the tournament, Liseberg, etcetera was breathless. From those days until today, the experiences of all of us who go to Partille Cup remain unchanged. Handball, excitement, spectacle, companionship, friendship are all words that characterize Partille Cup. I personally visited the tournament for the first time in 1993. In 1991, unfortunately, we couldn't go because of the war. In total I have visited 20 times. By the way, the first teams from Croatia performed on Partille Cup for the first time in 1976 thanks to professor Vinko Tomljanović and Dražen Badžek, says Kazimir Ilijas.
How would you like to describe your relationship to Partille Cup? What does the tournament mean to you?
– For me, Partille Cup means the future of handball and everything that handball should look like. Friendships that last a lifetime, a strong connection within each team that comes and games on Partille Cup leave lasting memories, and great ambition is achieved for handball among children and young people.
What are your role as ambassador? What do you do for Partille Cup and for the clubs in Croatia?
– The role as an ambassador of Partille Cup in Croatia is to enable as many children and young people as possible to go to Partille Cup to gain new knowledge, experience and ambition for handball in Croatia. Each of the young players who return from Partille Cup is full of positive impressions that they pass on to others, so that they also start training handball. For me, Partille Cup occupies a special place in the sports part of my life and it means a lot to me as a former player and coach and today as a handball employee.
Which are your best memories from your years at Partille Cup?
– Best memories of Partille Cup!? It would be very difficult to enumerate in a few sentences, a book could be written about it. Every trip to Partille Cup, getting on a bus or plane brings a series of interesting stories and anecdotes that are unforgettable. Maybe one day I'll write a book with all the memories and events that marked my experiences on Partille Cup. The book will have a lot of pages, haha.
How many teams and clubs from Croatia will participate this year?
– This year, 13 teams from Croatia will perform. I’m especially glad that teams from Zadar that have never been to Partille Cup will participate this year, which is a new moment in Croatia for interested teams that have never been there. The interest in Croatia for this year's visit to Partille Cup was greater than we could have expected, and I believe that this number will grow even more next year, says the ambassador.