Slovenia Revealed
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In 1932, Kačič played in the first official hockey game ever on Slovenian soil. In the town of Kamnik, he helped Iliirja defeat the home team by a whopping 15:1. Foto: EPA

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A Passion for Two Sports

Slovenia Revealed
19. June 2017 ob 06:08
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

Many older residents of the Slovenian capital fondly remember an inn owned by the Kačič family. But Jule Kačič, the one-time owner of the inn, was more than a restauranteur; as a young man, he made history in two different sports.

Kačič was born in 1913, and as a child, he would spend days playing around the family restaurant. During long winter months, his parents created an impromptu ice rink by flooding a part of the inn’s garden; that’s where the young Kačič learned to ice skate. When a brand-new sport – ice hockey – arrived in Slovenia, Kačič quickly joined Ljubljana’s just-established Ilirija hockey team.

In 1932, Kačič played in the first official hockey game ever on Slovenian soil. In the town of Kamnik, he helped Iliirja defeat the home team by a whopping 15:1. This was just the start of the team’s dominance in the new sport. Ilirija – and Kačič -- went on to become the Yugoslav champions three consecutive times between 1939 and 1941. In sports-mad interwar Slovenia, the nation had discovered a new pastime, and Kačič was one of its most recognizable faces.

But Kačič was not content with his hockey career. He became one of Slovenia’s first competitive bicyclists and joined Ljubljana’s Hermes cycling team. During his career, he broke several course records and helped to establish cycling as a legitimate sport. Always concerned about future generations, he introduced several promising athletes to the sport; some would become champions in the postwar era. Her later worked as a coach while still running the family inn until it was torn down by the authorities in the 1960s and replaced with office buildings.

After retiring, Kačič became a passionate collector of antiques. His colorful and always active life ended in 1987, but the sports he helped to pioneer are as popular as ever in Slovenia.

Jaka Bartolj