Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state in the Balkan peninsula, may not be known widely for its sporting prowess. The athletes from the country did not participate in any international sports event earlier and could not compete under their name until Yugoslavia was segregated in 1991 to form separate nations.
However, although there was a lack of exposure initially, it does not mean that the country’s residents do not have any interest in sports. In fact, Bosnians take a keen interest in a wide variety of sports, football being the most popular choice for the majority.
Serbia and Croatia border the state, and like its neighbours, football takes precedence over any other sport in the country. Other popular sports include basketball, water polo, handball, sport shooting, tennis, and volleyball, among others.
Moreover, outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing are quite popular among the locals due to the country’s landscape. Sarajevo hosted the 14th Winter Olympic Games in 1984. The mountainous areas near Sarajevo, the Jahorina Mountains, are a centre for winter games and are currently one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s prime venues for winter tourism and skiing.
That said, here are five popular sports in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Football In Bosnia and Herzegovina
Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is the country’s national sport as well. Bosnia and Herzegovina has produced many talented football players in the past, most of which are affiliated with teams from other countries.
The national team played its first international match against Albania in 1995. The first time the team appeared in the FIFA World Cup was in 2014 in Brazil. However, it has to date not qualified for the UEFA Euro Championship.
In 2013, the team was ranked 13th in the FIFA, its highest ranking to date, and the highest in all Yugoslavian countries. The team currently ranks 58th in FIFA. Its most notable victory to date was against Italy in 1996, when Italy was the reigning World Cup Champion of that time.
Football’s governing body, the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also manages the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as Liga 12. It is the top men’s professional football league in the country. The league was founded in 2000 and currently has 12 teams. The Liga 12 follows a relegation and promotion system with the First League of FBIH and First League of RS, the tier 2 football leagues in the country.
The current champion of the league is Zrinjski. The team has won the championship seven times and holds the record for most wins.
Basketball In Bosnia and Herzegovina
Next on our list is basketball. The national team started participating internationally after 1992 and participated in the first EuroBasket in 1993. To date, the team has participated nine times. However, the team has not yet qualified for the FIBA World Cup and is currently in 37th place in the FIBA ranking.
Before independence, the national basketball club of the country KK Bosna and the national basketball team of Yugoslavia won the European basketball championship multiple times between 1963 and 1990. Some Bosnian basketball players have even played for NBA, including Mirza Teletović, who played for the Brooklyn Nets, and Jusuf Nurkić, who played for the Denver Nuggets.
Handball In Bosnia and Herzegovina
Next up, we have handball. The sport is governed by the Handball Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which organises the Handball Cup and Handball Championship of Bosnia and oversees the affairs of the national team. The association became a member of the European Handball Federation and International Handball Federation in 1995 and 1996, respectively.
Bosnia and Herzegovina also has numerous handball clubs, many of which were members of the Yugoslav league. One such club is RK Borac Banja Luka, which won the EHF Champions League tournament in 1975-76. Another prominent club is Sloga from Doboj city.
Tennis In Bosnia and Herzegovina
Moving away from team sports, the next popular sport on our list is tennis. Bosnia currently has numerous tennis clubs, many of which are formally administered by the Tennis Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The association was established in 1996 and is responsible for organising the Bosnian tennis teams in the Fed and Tennis Cup. The organisation is also responsible for organising local tournaments to assess the level of talent and competency and rank players accordingly.
Water Polo In Bosnia and Herzegovina
The last sport on our list is yet another team sport, water polo. The country’s national team participated in the Sarajevo Champions Challenge for the first time in 2016.
The sport is managed by The Water Polo Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was formed in 2013. The national water polo league was launched in 2009. The league currently has five teams, all of which are from Sarajevo.