Slovenia Use Event to Work Out Future Stars
Slovenian youth coaches used the U20 European Championship Men competition to work out some of the country's future stars with the 31st annual Slovenia national team camp which drew to a close on Saturday in Nova Gorica.
Some 180 players between the ages of 13 and 17 took part in the seven day event, which was capped off with an All-Star game featuring the best 18 1993-born players at the camp, 12 of whom will then be selected to represent Slovenia at a tournament later this summer.
"The goal is so that the children can learn to love the game and learn about it and meet new friends," said Matic Vidic, who is one of the 30 coaches on hand.
Vidic served as Slovenia's coach at the 2006 UMCOR U18 European Championship as well as head coach of the U16 team in 2004.
He also helped the Slovenians to the 2000 U20 European Championship crown in FYROM on the team that included Sani Becirovic, Bostjan Nachbar and Smiljan Pavic and beat Israel 66-65 in the final.
The current Skofja Loka first division club coach Vidic said he could see 10 or 12 of the 180 players who could eventually advance to Slovenian senior national team, given expected development at the club level and staying injury-free.
"This is a chance to watch for them for the future and see who they develop over the next couple of years," Vidic said.
This is the largest number of participating players - some of whom are from Italy and Croatia - in the history of the event.
And the youngsters had their future idols directly in front of them, as they dribbled around cut-outs of players such as national team stars Jaka Lakovic, Radoslav Nestorvic and Becirovic during the skills competition.
Besides the skills event, the players also competed for prizes including mobile phones, basketballs and t-shirts in a three-on-three tournament as well as three-point and free throw competitions. The players practiced three times a day during the camp for seven hours on the court.
As a further highlight, nearly all of the 180 players were in attendance for Slovenia's game Saturday evening against France.