Croatia is a country of a thousand islands, but also of what seems like ten thousand summer festivals. Come high season, we always make sure our guests don’t lack in entertainment, and wherever you set course for, you’ll find at least one attractive event to keep you occupied every single evening.
Sometimes the locals need to have some fun too. Imagine you’re living on an island, enjoying your peace and quiet, and then every year as soon as June rolls around, those peace and quiet get replaced with hordes of enthusiastic travellers looking to explore each corner of your town. Day in and day out, for three months, keeping our guests happy is our first priority. And yet, when the crowds dissipate and the heat dies down in the evening, the residents of popular tourist destinations find their own way to unwind.
There’s a special tradition on the island of Korčula, one that goes back a long time but has been revived in 2007. The 4 historic neighbourhoods in Korčula town hold a small water polo championship to crown the town champion each year. And let me tell you, they take it very seriously – large banners are hung around town to show support for each neighbourhood, the entire town population gathers to cheer for their favourites, and the matches end up having more spectators than your average Croatian football match.
The players are not to be messed with either. There are guys over 60 in age who are still killing it like young champs, and everyone keeps a sharp focus on the endgame: defending the honour of your neighbourhood. In recent years, this hasn’t been such an easy task, as this year’s championship was again won by Borak neighbourhood team – and by again, I mean for the fifth time in a row, making for a total of eight victories since the tradition was renewed ten years ago.
Biline took second place, the third went to Stari Grad, and Sveti Nikola finished last. More luck next year! Until then, no hard feelings; the competitive spirit was quick to dissolve as the whole town got together to feast on grilled fish and other local delicacies, making sure the fešta lasted until the early morning hours.
It’s a bemusing tradition, one that has even the mayor participating (and scoring a goal or two), and it’s one of the rare examples of manifestations that haven’t been concieved as part of the tourist offer. Of course, if anyone visiting wants to join in on the fun, they won’t get turned away, but first and foremost, the Korčula Town Championship remains organised by the locals, for the locals.
Photo credit: Iva Tatić