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Sport is the shared language of Central Europe

According to the Prime Minister, it is natural that sport binds together the peoples of Central Europe – such as Serbs and Hungarians. Although, he said, “we have a difficult history”, the winds that are now blowing are “filling the sails of cooperation”.

He stressed that in Europe today those who unite their forces will gain in strength; those, however, who do not seek cooperation will weaken and disintegrate. The Serbs and Hungarians, the Prime Minister added, have opted for cooperation in politics, the economy, culture and also in sport – for which he thanked President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić.

At the same time, Mr. Orbán noted that the Topolya Football Academy is only the beginning: “There are many fine tasks ahead, sports complexes to be built […] and the organisation of sport for many thousands of children”.

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Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Speaking about why this is being done in Serbia, he said that a large number of Hungarians live in Serbia, and their motherland has an interest in the success of those who live there.

He recalled that in the 1980s Serbia was a more advanced and freer country than Hungary, and “those who once managed to reach the top will be able to do so again; it is only a question of time”. He added that “I am certain that we will live to see Serbia at the top”.

He also noted that those who are doing better at any given time must do more and take the initiative. This, the Prime Minister said, is why Hungary took the first step and agreed to underwrite the majority of the Topolya project. He concluded that “we did well to make that decision, in the spirit of Central European solidarity”.

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Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Mr. Orbán said that if there are children, there is a future, and if their intellect, character and physique are cultured and strong, that will be the future of the nation. In his view, the surest path to that destination is sport, because it develops intellect, character and physique simultaneously. “For football one needs smarts, fighting spirit and physical strength”, he said.

In conclusion, he said that those who play sport always do well in the end, and that sport teaches “the two most important things in life”: to win honestly and to lose with one’s head held high. “Those who know these things know everything,” he declared.

János Zsemberi, President of TSC Topolya football club, thanked the motherland for having stood by them, and for having given them substantial financial and professional support. He stressed that the development also has important social and economic implications. He said that TSC is working with some 1,500 children as part of its youth training scheme.

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Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

The TSC Football Academy and the associated building complex, overnight accommodation, supplementary pitches, gyms, canteen and other support facilities were built with funds provided by the Hungarian government through the Hungarian Football Federation. The Federation donated EUR 9.5 million (just over HUF 3 billion) to the project.

The first residents may now move into the hall of residence at the cutting-edge complex, which features four pitches, a gymnasium, sports diagnostics equipment and classrooms. They will not be the only ones to use the Academy’s facilities, however: local athletes and those from nearby settlements will also be able to train there.

The Topolya club was not the sole beneficiary of the funding approved for the Academy: football clubs operating in settlements with majority Hungarian populations have also benefited from the project.