| ||Originally from New Zealand, Paul Musin (left) moved to Croatia, and is a member of the Croatian Cricket Federation, where his primary role is to administer and develop the game of cricket in Croatia, right from coaching kids in schools, up to everything to do with the Croatian national side. If that weren't enough to keep him busy, he decided to create the now popular website Croatia Week.|
Croatia Week supremo Paul Musin, with Croatia football coach Niko Kovac).
I suppose in some ways we are competition with Croatia Week, the lively online news portal which has been keeping foreigners updated on life in Croatia. Although we are both chasing readers for Croatian-related subjects, somehow it has never seemed like competition. Paul Musin, the founder of Croatia Week, is too nice a guy,and he has been kind enough to feature the Total project on several occasions, most recently reporting on THAT blog.
It occurred to me that, while Croatia Week has been busy reporting on the workings of others, nobody has tried to find out much about them, so I sent some questions to Paul about his project, which he was kind enough to answer immediately.
1. In a short space of time, you have become many foreigners (and locals) place to catch up on the news from Croatia. How did Croatia Week start and what were you aiming to achieve?
Croatia Week launched just over 2 and half years ago and the reasons were three-fold really. After talking to a number of expats living here it was clear that finding out what was going on in Croatia in English was difficult as there were not many English language news websites based here. We also wanted to create a portal which would help second/third/fourth generation Croats living abroad, who perhaps did not read Croatian, keep connected with what was going on back in the 'Motherland'. Lastly, and a big reason, is that we wanted to promote Croatia, and hopefully become a go-to point for the large number of tourists and potential tourists to Croatia.
2. You are producing a lot of articles every day - it must be a full-time job. How many hours a day are you working on the site?
As Editor of the portal it is fairly time-consuming as you well know, and it has some odd working hours, but I am very lucky that I have a small team who help contribute with articles. Like getting anything started, it can not be done without support, and Croatia Week is no exception.
3. Where are the majority of your readers from?
Literally from all parts of the world. One of the surprising things has been the number of readers we have in Croatia. It seems to be popular amongst both the expat community living here in Croatia, as well as with locals who want to catch up with news in English for whatever reason. We also have a large number of readers in countries with big Croatian communities such as the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand, but also readers in places such as Dubai, Qatar, Kenya, Soloman Islands, South Korea, Japan and India.
4. Are you getting official financial support for the portal? How are you making money from it?
At the moment Croatia Week does not receive any official financial support. It currently relies on a team of dedicated volunteers and a bit of advertising to keep it going.
5. What are your most successful articles so far, and what is the one you most enjoyed writing?
A number of articles have been very popular, which has seen them linked by some of the world's leading websites such as Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reddit, Buzzfeed and Bleacher Report, and most of Croatia's major portals. Croatia Week aims to generally be positive and stays away from politics as much as it can. Articles which have a tourism angle, anything to do with the Croatian football team, and interviews, which we have done with a number of Croatian personalities such as Jelena Rozga, Sandra Perkoviĉ, Gibonni and Borna Ĉoriĉ, are always popular.
One of the articles I enjoyed writing the most was 'Why do Croatians Swear So Much' (http://www.croatiaweek.com/why-do-croatians-swear-so-much/) - mainly because of the reaction it got. It is always nice to open up debate and that article seemed to stir up some reactions and got people talking which is always a good thing. It is also nice to write articles that help people discover something about Croatia they never knew, and help them decide to one day visit hopefully.
6. If a business would like to promote themselves on Croatia Week, how do they do that?
Very easily. We would love to work together with any business in helping them promote their product. All they need to do is drop us a line here.
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljiĉ
Did you know they played cricket in Croatia? Neither did we, until we met Paul Musin. Read our interview with him below to find out how the sport is doing in Croatia, what Paul misses from New Zealand, and what on earth a silly point is.
I recently read an article you wrote on Croatia Week about cricket in the Balkans. You’re clearly part of the core of the cricket circuit here. What is your role in it exactly? What do you do?
I first got involved in cricket in Croatia in 2004 when I was selected to play for the Croatian national team for a European Championship tournament in Slovenia. Since then I have been playing for Croatia and currently I work for the Croatian Cricket Federation based in Zagreb. My role primarily is to administer and develop the game of cricket in Croatia, right from coaching kids in schools, up to everything to do with the Croatian national side.
I feel like Vis always pops up when cricket in Croatia comes up as a topic. Why is that?
Vis is the birthplace of cricket in Croatia. That is where the sport was first played in Croatia over 200 years ago in 1811, when the British set up a naval base on the island during the Napoleonic wars. Captain William Hoste decided that playing cricket in their spare time would be good for morale.
After the British left, they took their equipment with them and cricket would not be played again till the late 1990’s on the island. The Vis cricket club, now named after William Hoste, is regularly visited by touring sides from Europe because of its spectacular location. Vis cricket ground may be one of the only few grounds in the world situated in a vineyard, and the whole Vis experience and hospitality from the guys down on the island mean international clubs keep coming back for more.
Where are you and your team members from? Many locals?
We have three cricket clubs in Croatia, obviously one on the island of Vis, which is made up of all local Vis-born players and captained by a Yorkshire man who has lived on the island for more than five years. We have a club in the Dalmatian city of Split, again all of its members are local Croatians, and we have two teams at the Zagreb Cricket Club which is made up mostly of expats living here.
I grew up in New Zealand and we a real mix at the club with players from Australia, South Africa, USA, the UK, India, Canada, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and a handful of local Croatians.
It’s easy to see when reading your article how much passion you guys have for the sport and you’ve overcome lots of obstacles to keep it alive so far. What do you think was the hardest challenge you faced?
In a football-mad country where just a few years ago most locals thought the game of cricket involved riding around on horses, there are a number challenges we faced.
Getting locals to grasp cricket’s complicated rules and trying to explain that you can play a game for 5 days in a row and still now have a winner was pretty hard. Other obstacles such as finding large flat oval-shaped fields, funding, lack of support/interest from the government with school programmes and lack of media (TV coverage of matches) exposure does make it tough.
A women’s league will soon be formed in Croatia as well. Can you tell me a bit about that? How easy or hard do you imagine it will be to put together a women’s team, and why?
One of our next goals here in Croatia is to form a women’s team. I think the fact that Zagreb cricket club is sponsored by a winery may make the task a bit easier, but we actually already have some girls keen to play here.
The interesting thing I notice when I teach cricket in schools here with the young kids, is that generally the girls pick up cricket a lot faster than the boys and are some of the better players. Unlike a lot of other sports, there are no real physical attributes required to play cricket, so the game can have a wide appeal and I think we can get girls hooked once they realise how social and fun cricket is.
I hear cricket has some unusual and pretty comical terms. Can you give us a few of the odder or funnier ones and maybe explain them?
Cricket has loads of unusual terminology and can be pretty confusing for someone new to the game. From names for fielding positions, to ways to get out, there a literally hundreds of terms. Here are a just a few.
Chinaman – a left-handed bowler who spins the ball from left to right
You’re originally from New Zealand. Is your family Croatian? What made you decide to move here? Is there anything you really miss about New Zealand? Anything you’re glad to have left behind? Top 3 things about living in Zagreb as opposed to anywhere else you’ve lived?
My family is originally from Pupnat on the island of Korcula in Croatia. I had been coming back and forth from New Zealand for many years, and a few years ago ended up living here in Zagreb permanently. I don’t miss the 24-hour flights getting over here but do miss family and friends, but I am fortunate that they do pop over often to Croatia.
Zagreb is a great place to live, it is not too big and has everything you need. Top 3 things about living here would be morning shopping at the Utrina farmers markets where I live, playing cricket followed by a BBQ at the lovely Budenec Oval and going up Sljeme mountain during the winter.
What would make you happiest with the state of cricket in the Balkans? What are your hopes and dreams for the sport here?
Croatia has already achieved a huge amount in a short time in cricket. In just 10 years we managed to work our way from nothing to the top division of European cricket, winning many ICC tournaments along the way. I would be happy if the legacy that is about to be left behind can be continued. I would like to see more junior teams come through with local kids choosing to play the great game of cricket. I would also like to see the women’s game develop here.
Where can we watch your team play, and when?
In Zagreb we play at Budenec Oval in Sesvete every Saturday from May to October from 2-5pm, and from December to April we play indoor cricket at the Trnje Recreation Centre in Trnje every Saturday from 2-4pm. We also practice at Mladost. You can find out what is going on via the Croatian Cricket Federation Facebook page or website.
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljiĉ
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