Several national teams and clubs already reserved time slots at Sokol Centar
The old Sokolski dom, or the newly renovated Sokol Centar, at Ulica kralja Zvonimira in Osijek already opened its doors to the public at the beginning of September. So the opening ceremony and the tour of the centre by the members of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the City of Osijek, and the Osijek-Baranja County were conducted in a work atmosphere, during a practice session attended by numerous young gymnasts from Osijek.
The President of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Andrej Plenković, used his stay in Slavonia and his attendance at the session of the Council for Slavonia, Baranja, and Srijem in Beli Manastir to visit Osijek to see in person and tour the interior of this unique sport centre in this part of Europe, in which many citizens of Osijek will find their place. Namely, even though Sokol Centar has been operational for less than three weeks, the hosts from the Gymnastics Society Osijek – Žito have already pointed out that they have more than 800 members at their club, most of which, about 660 of them, are boys and girls dreaming of having a career in gymnastics one day similar to Robert Seligman or Tomislav Marković, who was practicing with the beginners yesterday and teaching them the basic elements.
As a true host, Marko Pipunić, the owner and director of the company Žito d.o.o., the main investor, guided the president of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, his vice-president Predrag Štromar, but also the leading people from the City of Osijek, the Osijek-Baranja County, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, and the city and county institutions, through about 2,400 square metres of the entire complex. The Croatian prime minister did not hide his excitement about what he saw in Osijek, especially because the facility was built to benefit all citizens, particularly the children.
To quote the Croatian prime minister: “First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Pipunić who financed the reconstruction of Sokolski dom which has the value of more than 32 million kunas. The important thing is that in Osijek, with its previous experience in developing gymnastics, now has a facility which will, I am sure, attract many young people to sport, and they will have even better conditions to accomplish impressive results at the European and global level. A facility like this, built according to the highest quality criteria, will now attract other athletes from other national teams, who will be coming to Osijek to train. This is truly a great benefit for the city.”
Truly, as we were informed from the Gymnastics Society (GD) Osijek – Žito, several teams and clubs already reserved their stays and time slots at the Sokol Centar. For them, as well as for all other interested athletes who come to Sokol Centar for preparations, there are excellent dormitories constructed at the top floor of the facility, with 31 beds in total, and the president of the Government was especially excited about their furnishings and purpose. Of course, Marko Pipunić received the most praise during the beautiful afternoon in Osijek. The idea about the reconstruction of Sokolski dom was talked about for years, and now in just over a year (the construction at the centre started in March of 2017), thanks to him and the partnership with the City of Osijek, a truly representative structure was constructed.
“I am definitely not a pioneer with this project, we have all seen projects like this before. As an entrepreneur, my goal is to create new value, but every one of us needs to be responsible toward the community, where we must direct the funds in order to improve the quality of life in our surroundings. The goal was to realise a self-sustainable project which will be of service to all the citizens of Osijek from two to 102 years, who will improve their quality of life there. This has also become an interesting building, which will make it possible to use the tourism potential of this area. We have the World Gymnastics Cup every year with participants from over 30 countries from all over the world, and some of them will stay in the centre for preparations and get to know Osijek and Slavonia even better”, said Pipunić after the tour of the Sokol Centar, a building which will surely be pointed out with pride by the citizens of Osijek to their guests.
Text by: Krešimir Lacković/Glas Slavonije