Zagreb, 12 April 2022 - At the traditional annual ceremony, held as part of the 36th HZSN Congress held at the HZSN home in Zagreb, the Croatian Sports Journalists' Association (HZSN) presented awards and recognitions for 2021, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award to 68-year-old Zoran Kovačević, who published his first article in Sportske Novosti (Sport News) exactly 50 years ago.

All his life, Kovačević has been involved in sports, professionally and voluntarily as a journalist and editor, author of books and publications, as one of the closest associates of the Secretary General of the Zagreb Sports Federation and Secretary General of the Croatian Olympic Committee, and as member of executive bodies or president of wrestling, basketball and skating federations and clubs. He reported from the biggest basketball competitions, ranking among the best reporters and commentators of Croatian sports journalism.

For the first time since this election, a HZSN special recognition was presented to a diplomat - the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Japan Dražen Hrastić. On the eve and during the Tokyo Olympics, he helped the accredited Croatian journalists resolve a number of problems related to repeated accommodation cancellations, strict administrative rules of the Japanese government and rigorous epidemiological measures. In direct contact with the highest bodies of the local authorities, Ambassador Hrastić sought solutions for the best possible status of homeland reporters at the most demanding Games in history. On his behalf, his wife Blaženka received the award, and he thanked the Croatian Olympic Committee for its cooperation in a video message from Tokyo.

One of the Croatian journalists at the Tokyo Games, HINA’s (Croatian News Agency) photojournalist Damir Senčar received the annual award for photography. During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Senčar managed to capture all the Croatian competitors, and in doing so all the photos exuded the current moment, sports effort, the mood of the actors, the strange atmosphere for performing in front of empty stands, but also with delight while some of them were receiving the medals.

Croatian Television commentator Stjepan Balog received the award for his television project – a show about the European football championships "Europeo", while Ivan Ljubić from the Croatian Football Television received the award for TV coverage. Branko Stipković received recognition for his story on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the small football club NK Pribić, incorporating into it the story of the greatest man of the region – the Cardinal Franjo Kuharić. Anton Filić from Večernji list received the award for feuilleton, and for reporting from sports events from the islands of Korčula, Lastovo and Mljet and the peninsula of Pelješac, Nenad Kosović from Marko Polo Sport portal received the award for local journalism.

Osijek Football Club’s spokesperson Mario Mihić won the press service award, while the publicist award went to the book "50 Years of the Matchbox" edited by Anton Samovojska and Robert Šola from Sportske Novosti, and Zvonimir Vukelić from the newspaper Večernji list.

The ceremony was attended by the President and Secretary General of the Croatian Olympic Committee (NOC of Croatia) Zlatko Mateša and Siniša Krajač, State Secretary at the Ministry of Sports and Tourism Tomislav Družak, Head of Directorate for Media and Development of Cultural and Creative Industries at the Ministry of Culture and Media Jasna Fila Vaniček, President of Zagreb Sports Federation Vjekoslav Šafranić, President of the European Baseball Federation Krunoslav Karin and many other dignitaries from sports and public life.

Congratulating the laureates, the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Mateša asked media representatives for help in encouraging young people to practice sports. He claimed that tens of thousands of young male and female athletes left sports and sports activities during the pandemic, which in Croatian reality, with a bit under 400,000 young people aged 12 to 19 - can be a big problem in the future.

Before the award- and recognition-presenting ceremony, the working Congress of the HZSN was held, at which its President Jura Ozmec stressed that HZSN had a number of activities in the last year, and recalled numerous limitations that sports journalism faced in the era of the pandemic, starting with restrictions regarding travel, but also at the competitions.

- What is nice is that Croatian sports journalists did not stop working during the pandemic. Moreover, they have been working and creating, as evidenced by the series of books and publications published in the past year. One of them - Croatian Olympians and Notables by Jurica Gizdić - is part of the award to our laureates, for which I thank the publisher Croatian Olympic Committee, said Ozmec.

The President of the HZSN also presented the 82nd issue of the magazine Olimp. Most of the journalists and photojournalists present at the HZSN Congress praised Olimp in the new, redesigned edition and with the new editor-in-chief - Nina Lara Vidaković. The general assessment is that Olimp looks graphically very attractive ("playful"), and the content is also significantly "refreshed". (HINA (Croatian News Agency)/ NOC of Croatia/VK)