BELGRADE, Serbia – Former Poets James Constancio (2010) and Ryan Rowlands (1991) have recently continued the resurgence of football in Serbia, which began nine years ago and is becoming one of the fastest growing games among both men and women in the country.
Constancio and Rowlands recently met in Serbia three months ago where Ryan heads the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy and where James is a member of the Belgrade Blue Dragons, one of the city’s two football teams. Both are working together in teaching the finer points and spreading their love for the game. Recently, James and Ryan had the opportunity to visit a two hundred year old school where they explained the fundamentals of the game and then played with some of the current students.
Surprisingly, more than 70% of the audience was female and what is even more intriguing is how a nearby town has their own women’s football team. Back in 2001 NFL games began being televised in Serbia and two years later in 2003 teams began to form throughout the country and it wasn’t until 2005 when those teams acquired equipment allowing them to play full contact football.
Athletics has always been an important piece of the Serbian culture housing the top professional tennis player in the world in Novak Djokovic, and top tier teams in basketball, volleyball, water polo and soccer. Now, Ryan and James are trying to use their knowledge and expertise in adding football to the list of most popular sports in the country. Who knows, maybe there is someone in Serbia that will join the “Poet family” in the near future.
"Football has always been a passion of mine and I find it to be absolutely amazing that I am able to experience living in another country and have a part in building up the popularity of football by playing and coaching while making memories and friends that I will never forget," James explained.
To view other pictures of James and Ryan from Belgrade, Serbia click here.