However, the European Nations Cup competition between Slovenia and Bulgaria with the deserved Slovenian victory was not the only thing that attracted attention. It also had a special family background. The Škofič brothers represented Slovenia at the competition: Jack (28), Max (25), Archie (22), George (21) and Frankie (18). They are not professional athletes and are active in other fields as well. Jack is an economist, Max a graphic designer, Archie a mechanical engineer, while George and Frankie are still students. Max particularly excelled at the competition and was in the end chosen as the best player of the competition. He said: "We liked it. We enjoyed it. The supporters were phenomenal."
Slovenian anthem brings out tears of joy
The brothers live in England but have been visiting Slovenia since their early years. They have relatives in Šentilj in the Štajerska region. As children they have already visited their Slovenian relatives together with their grandfather and father. This time they were invited to Slovenia by the Rugby Union.
They are following the situation in Slovenia. They were used to do that since their childhood because their father and grandfather taught them passionately about cultural heritage and encouraged them to learn more about Slovenia. Usually they visit Slovenia during the Easter holidays and they are happy to participate in the traditional Slovenian ceremonies.
They are not fluent in Slovenian language; however, they know the basic phrases and know the words of the Slovenian anthem. They say the following about their language learning: "We know the basics of Slovenian language and with this visit we also learned a few new words. Because we are planning on coming to Slovenia more often, we are going to start learning the language." Jack even cried at the sound of the Slovenian anthem. "Tears came to my eyes because the atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. I felt that the people present there welcomed me and this touched me deeply. I felt that the chance of the joint performance with my brothers here in Slovenia was really something special. It reminded me of my dad's dreams of us playing in his father's home country. I felt a strong connection with my fellow countrymen and that is why it touched me so much."
The Škofič brothers could not stop praising the Slovenian hospitality. "Everywhere we went we met friendly and open-hearted people. It seemed like we really belong here," is what they said. For them a special honour was also the presence of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, at the game: "We were very honoured when he personally came to congratulate us and took some pictures with us."
Leaving a mark in the rugby history
They are also familiar with the Slovenian sports. "We are aware of the rich history in winter sports and athletics and recently also in team sports. But you do not have true rugby players in Slovenia. And we hope that we will be the ones that could leave a mark in the rugby history in Slovenia."
In the end they all yelled in one voice: "I feel sLOVEnia!" And their pure feeling of respect and love towards the homeland of their father and grandfather and therefore their own was heartfelt.
Tanja Glogovčan, SINFO