How-To: Get Yourself on the Map- Slovenia in the World Cup

Posted: 2010/06/08 in Current Issues, Sports, Summer
Tags: , , ,

There’s something else you should know about me, dear readers. I am Slovenian and proudly so. While many of my friends know nothing of their heritage, I can proudly say that I’ve seen my “homeland” three times already and that it really does feel like home. I feel particularly grateful for all the family I have over there. At least if I ever end up lost in Europe I have somewhere to go. But here’s the funny thing about Slovenia… No one knows where it is.

People I first meet often wow over my very Slovenian last name- Strgar (pronounced Struh- gar) and sometimes they’ll even tell me I have an accent. Funny, considering how I was born in Minneapolis and grew up in the Northwest for most of my life. Then they’ll ask me where my last name is from. It’s Slovenian, I tell them. Where’s that?

Let me tell you. It was the first part of Yugoslavia to secede in 1991. It’s a tiny country settled right on the northeastern corner of Italy. It’s the size of New Jersey and has a population of nearly 2 million people. It’s bordered by Italy, Croatia, Austria, Hungary and the Adriatic Sea. But then again, the article in the New York Times on Saturday could’ve told you that.

What it also could’ve told you (unless you’re an avid soccer fan) is that Slovenija (as it’s really spelled, at least in Slovenian) has a really impressive soccer team. According to the article, Slovenia is the smallest country vying for the 2010 World Cup. However, that hasn’t stopped Slovenia’s team in the past as it qualified for the 2000 European championships and the 2002 World Cup.

The team has only let in 4 goals during its qualifying run, mostly thanks to 25-year-old goalie Samir Handanovic who also plays for Italy’s Serie A. Slovenia is blessed with 21 other players who play for foreign club teams. The 11 starters play on teams such as Belgium, Poland and Germany. Although the Slovenian team has a couple players in their early 30s, the majority of the team is in its mid-20s.

It was an unexpected victory for Slovenia, however, despite their strong team. Slovenians worldwide will be routing for this small, but mighty team. Whether they have the manpower to defeat powerhouses like Spain or Brazil, it is still hard to say. The fact that they made it is enough of a national morale booster.

For me, the fact that Slovenia will be playing is enough for me. I wish I could be in Slovenia at such an exciting time. I guess I’ll have to settle for the Slovenia vs. US game.

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  1. […] How-To: Get Yourself on the Map- Slovenia in the World Cup […]

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