Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Mario Ivanković of Rolling Wheels Youth Association

Katarina Anđelković

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Following decorations, gifts, and last week’s cakes and sweets, for this week’s edition of Vukovar 365, we decided it was time for creativity combined with movement and sport. And to celebrate this extreme, and to many an unusual sport entering the Olympic realms, I decided to speak to one of its rare representatives here in Vukovar.

Meet Mario Ivanković, the founder of the Rolling Wheels Youth Association, who has been on a mission to popularise skateboarding. In a bid to bring it closer to the general public and to educate the residents of Vukovar on the many benefits of always hitting your ankles with a wooden board, Mario founded Rolling Wheels with his friend Igor in 2009. Icon

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In the twelve years that have since gone by, the Association has successfully organized events and festivals, become known country-wide, and managed to convince the city of Vukovar to finance building not one, but two skateparks. Not too bad, is it? The skateboarding population in Vukovar also grew from the initial two skateboarders (you guessed it, Mario and Igor) to dozens of young and teenage boys and girls practicing this art. A skate park at night

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With skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport, their horizons have broadened and the dynamic duo is looking to transform the Association into a skateboarding club, which would allow them to carry out more activities, and on a larger scale. Not only are there new places to spend time opening up in Vukovar, but they also help us come up with new things to do. We do advise not trying it at home, though.

Tell us about your association. How did you begin and what is it that you do? 

Rolling Wheels was founded in 2009. Our first goal, which we achieved in 2013, was to have a skatepark built in Vukovar. Other than that, we wanted to popularize skateboarding in Croatia. Extreme sports were always put aside and were considered dangerous and mischievous. Skateboards were frowned upon by the City council and Vukovar’s residents. To popularize skateboarding and present it in a more positive manner we decided to get together and organize skateboarding contests. 

A person doing a flip on a skateboard

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What projects did you do in Vukovar, can you describe them? 

Our main project that went on from 2009 until 2018 was Vukovar Street Art. It was a one-day festival of extreme sports (skateboarding, BMX, and inline best trick contest) including alternative cultures like hip-hop concerts, graffiti workshops, and B-boying. Vukovar Street Art was special because it took place in the city center where skateboarders would show off their skills to everyone and anyone that happened to pass by. On top of that, it was the first “best trick” contest in Croatia. Every year the contest grew and had more and more visitors. 

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How many people took part, where were they from? What about those who just came to observe? 

The observers were mainly locals that came with children who were more than impressed by tricks than the skateboarders themselves. It was something unusual and different since it gathered a bunch of different people from all around Croatia that did tricks on a piece of wood, so to speak. The contestants and visitors came from all around Croatia and even from Serbia, Bosnia, Germany, Slovenia, and Brazil. A person sitting on the ground next to a wall covered in graffiti

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How successful were you in acquiring sponsorship? 

Getting sponsors from skateboard shops and skateboarding brands was quite easy, actually. Since it was a different kind of contest everyone was down to support us. Getting the scene together was always a pleasure and the smiles on our friends’ faces were what kept us going. The difficult part was getting the financial support we needed but it always somehow ended fine. The main financial sponsor was always the City of Vukovar.

What’s in the future of the association? 

The Association is now going through the process of change. Since skateboarding became an Olympic sport, it became clear that it is here to stay. In order to join the Croatian skateboarding committee, it now needs to become a skateboarding club. To do so we must make some changes within our organization, including changing the statute. By becoming a skateboarding club, we will secure a full membership within the Croatian Skateboarding Committee and will be able to organize national cups in Vukovar.  


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Are you planning new projects any time soon? 

One of our main goals for 2022 is to hold a national cup in Vukovars’ newly built skatepark. The Cup will be under the sponsorship of the Croatian Olympic Committee, more precisely the Croatian Skate Association. 

Would you be interested in working with CROMADS and taking part in the Vukovar Card initiative? 

Yes, we would. It could broaden our horizons and introduce us to some new people.

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Finally, tell us about Vukovar. Why should people visit? 

Firstly, because of its rich history. The city is filled with beautiful buildings and houses and the river Danube gives it a special atmosphere. Nearby cities are also worth visiting. If you visit Vukovar you should definitely visit the City Museum, the newly renovated Water Tower, the Memorial Centre of Homeland War, and take a stroll through the city centre and the promenades along Vuka and Danube.

Where can we find you?

You can check us out on Vukovar Street Art’s Facebook page.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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