A European Championship for U18 Women does not attract the type of spectator attention as at the senior level. Here in Bratislava, the crowd usually consist of families and friends of the players as well as the requisite number of coaches looking for the next big prospect.
One of the faithful family members in attendance is Jelena Prcic. Prcic is the mother of not one, but two Serb and Montenegrin international players, her twin daughters Dunja and Iva.
As well as the twins, Mrs Prcic‘s has a son who suited up for a first division side (although injuries curtailed his career and he is now qualifying as a referee), while her husband was good enough to play in the second division in the former Yugoslavia.
Growing up in that kind of environment, Dunja and Iva were bound to also take to basketball.
“It is interesting that they started with tennis, then karate, then swimming and were pretty good. Iva was the first in the state. Then they went to basketball when they were 9 or 10,” says Mrs Prcic.
|Mrs Prcic checking out the action in Bratislava|
Iva and Dunja were first invited to try out for the national team in 1999. They made the team and played first at a BAM tournament in Croatia. It was the start of a remarkable series of success for the team which culminated in a gold medal for both sisters at the 2003 European Championship for U16 Girls.
And Mr and Mrs Prcic were there every step of the way.
“We try to travel with them as much as we can, “ says Mrs Prcic, who is an English teacher in their hometown of Subotica.
“Every weekend is like a mobile circus so we sit in the bus and travel with them. My husband used to go more than I did, but now I go more because I enjoy watching the team and being with them and being helpful,” she adds.
The commitment to their daughters’ success comes not just in travelling, but in the daily preparations needed for the 2 girls who practice twice per day with their team Spartak Subotica, as well as attending high school.
“Well I’m pleased to help them. It’s a miracle having them,” Mrs Prcic says.
“They get up early to learn and study. They train twice a day and I prepare sandwiches and things. But I find it easy because of them. I don’t worry about making sacrifices because that is what I’m supposed to do and born to do. Having twins is like, they are God’s gift.”
Iva is the oldest of the two by 5 minutes, but Dunja is the better basketball player. At the 2003 European Championship for U16 Girls she averaged 16.4 ppg and in the final scored 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against Belarus.
Iva is also not on the Serb & Montenegrin team in Bratislava. She injured her Achilles tendon in January and believing that she would not be fit in time for the championship, she was not registered to play. She is, in fact, now healthy and has been back in action for Spartak. But although she is not on the team, she is in Bratislava to support her sister.
“They are very close,” says Mrs Prcic.
“Twins are dependent on each other so there are periods when one dominates and periods when the other dominates. So this is a time when Dunja needs Iva and that is why Iva is here, for them to be together.”
According to Mrs Prcic, basketball is in her daughters’ blood and they even used to sleep with a ball in their beds. Undoubtedly the sport will play a large role in their future. Offers have been made to the twins to go to the USA and play in college, while several teams in Serbia & Montenegro are also interested in their signature.
Whatever the future holds for the two, it will be together, and the Prcic family will be there every step of the way.