Did you know that Hajduk employs 85 people, and 33 of them are women? And no, they are not all in the kitchen.
It is no surprise that at many men’s football clubs, you can most likely count the number of women employees on a single hand, which used to be the scenario at beloved Split football club Hajduk – they had a secretary, some women working in administration, the kitchen and laundry, and that was it. Today, the situation is entirely different as Hajduk employs 85 people, and 33 of them are women! And no, they are not only working in the kitchen but hold some of the highly acclaimed management jobs at the club, reports 24 Sata on March 8, 2018.
“I’ve been at Hajduk since 1995, and in the last 23 years, thousands of children and players have been through this kitchen. I do not remember their faces and names anymore, but when someone in the town calls me ‘Aunt Mladenka’, I know that they played as a child for Hajduk,” says Mrs. Mladenka Vrzić, who often acted as a mother to the children.
“Many children came from Slavonia, from Dubrovnik, Zadar… mostly when they went to the fifth grade. It was hard for them to be far from their families and they would cry, so they should be comforted, and spoken to.“
Although the kitchen cannot watch the games because they are cooking for the players and guests, they can readily recognize the results from the sounds of the stadium.
“If it’s thundering from the stadium, we know that it’s good and that we are winning. If it is peaceful and quiet, that means they are losing – but if it is a win, then they do not stop talking and joking. Even during lunch before the match, I can tell if they will be good or not that day.”
HNK Hajduk/Robert Matic
Vrzić said that she is retiring in two years, and has only one wish.
“I would like to retire with the championship title. I remember many parties, and somehow I was in the heart of the 2001 championship title when we waited for the team to come back from Varaždin. It was a party I’ll remember forever, full of stadium guests…“
Unlike Mladenka, Petra Nosić came to Hajduk a year ago. She says she applied because she loves Hajduk, and is also interested in sports teaching.
“My entire family loves Hajduk, and my father used to take me to the matches. The first time was for the European game against Inter. And since then I came to games regularly,” said Petra, who works with the children from the Academy.
HNK Hajduk/Robert Matic
“The job is quite different from what I did at school. We started from scratch, set up a new system, work mode, compiled a database with all players’ records, we visit schools, track grades… And we do that for 11 categories of children, who we also regularly organize workshops for. Hajduk is a football club, but the Academy dedicates a lot of attention to the developmental segment of children and their human qualities. We do not just think about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but about what kind of children they will grow up to be.”
And if there are a lot of women working at Poljud, Petra doesn’t notice it.
“I do not see if anyone is male or female, just if they are doing their job. I’m personally tied mostly to my colleagues, but it’s nice that there are plenty of women in the club. We also go to the games together, the kids and the club’s staff mostly sit together in the stands.”
One of the faces Hajduk fans are most likely to encounter is Helena Ramljak, who has worked at the Hajduk Fan Shop for five years.
“At first, everyone was buying tickets and jerseys, asking about the players even though I didn’t even know them because I hadn’t been to many games as my kids were small. But over time, I got to know them,” says Helena, who said the players are the most trusted buyers.
HNK Hajduk/Robert Matic
“There is never a day when someone returns a jersey or a souvenir, and the best customer was Ante Erceg. I do not even know how many jerseys he bought and gave out, but it was a lot… “
She says her job is not difficult, but there is one disadvantage.
“The job is the busiest in the summer when we have the big European matches; then the crowds are impossible. But when the match begins everyone goes to the stands, and we have to stay, fill the shelves, fix up the shop, and count the money, so we never get to the stands before the second half. We’re used to it.”
One of the most responsible functions in the club is Jelena Mikačić, who came to Hajduk as a secretary and replacement for the legendary Vjeročka Mikulandra, who retired after 30 years at Hajduk.
“It was really hard, there were a lot of financial problems in the club, the wages were delayed for three months, and it was all new to me. Every day I woke up to Vjeročka’s help because she was even more than a secretary for over 30 years.”
In the meantime, Jelena was promoted to the Head of the Management Office.
“I went through all of the stages; when I was little my dad and uncle would take me to the stadium, later I went alone or with my friends, of course in the north. I often went with guests and colleagues from the club. I was also at the Cup final against Lokomotiva at Maksimir, that was a special feeling. I remember that on the same day our cadets won the Cup, so we returned to Poljud with two trophies.”
HNK Hajduk/Robert Matic
Jelena is an English and Italian professor who speaks Spanish and her job description, among other things, concerns foreign players, the organization of international games, transfers and licensing. The job is exciting but very stressful.
“It’s hard for me to describe it, but let’s say, in the middle of the summer, there are no free hotel rooms in Split, everyone is on vacation, and Everton is coming. We finish foreign entry and exit transfers for multiple players, arrange visas for travel – and all in one day. When you ask me how many hours I’ve worked, I do not know the answer. Let’s say, we had to travel to Everton last year, the British Embassy in Zagreb was on a collective holiday, and we needed an emergency visa for Hamza, Ohandza and Ismajli. Or the transfers for Erceg and Ohandza, who went to other continents and countries that are in different time zones, so your phone rings at 5 am, or at 1 am.”
Jelena says that just because Hajduk is a men’s football club does not mean that capable and highly educated women cannot efficiently manage it.
“Hajduk is organized in such a way that the management of the club is one person, so it is logical and natural that it is a male for their knowledge of football, but in the case of multi-faceted administration, it wouldn’t be a problem for a woman to have a place. Hajduk leads in a lot, even when it comes to the number of women employed in the club – and we already had President Marijana Bošnjak. At Hajduk, there are all professions, knowledge and experiences, because if anyone wants to and knows how to work, it does not matter whether they are male or female. The relationships here are more than correct; there is no difference except that our male colleagues sometimes surprise us with flowers or chocolate.”
Translated from 24 Sata