Foreigners in Slovenia join forces and battle locals in football league
Slovenia has one of Europe's most homogenous populations. Foreigners make up a mere two percent of the populace but that hasn't stopped them from kicking up a storm, participating in Slovenia's football league. A new team of foreign footballers has been battling the locals and having a great time doing it.
The British embassy in Ljubljana estimates that there are currently only a few hundred British citizens officially registered in Slovenia. But they're still managing to put their mark on the country. One of the few to make the jump from the UK to Slovenia is Kris Mole, a founding father of the fourth-league football team Ihan Finance. With the winter break setting in, we recently had a chance to talk to him about the origins of his unique team of foreigners and expats:
"It started around two years ago, a chance meeting in the pub of 4 or 5 English guys, all living here, who before didn't know anybody else and were new to the scene - decided to go for a 'kickaround'. Things kept growing and growing until we had so many people that we had to move location to an actual pitch and before we knew it, we were having teams from England coming over on tours, playing us in matches."
Ihan Finance currently boasts team members from England, Scotland, Belgium, China and the United States - easily making it one of the most diverse teams in the country. So far the team's official record has been modest, with one win and eight losses. But the team has had its moments, including a match against local big-fish Olimpija. Kris explains:
"The best game for us so far was definitely the one against Olimpija - now called Bezigrad - simply because we gave them a real scare in the first half. We were only 1-0 down at halftime. (We lost 9-1 in the end.) But also because of the fact that we were playing against such a high-quality team. This was the biggest day - this was when we knew that we had achieved something."
A bitterly early and cold winter put a premature end to the fall football season. The members of Ihan Finance are now resting and regrouping and still optimistic about next year.
"We are on winter break and trying not to get too fat over the Christmas period on the mince pies, because once the winter season is over, we are right back into the swing of it. We are still optimistic that we can finish in the top half of the league table. But this is definitely an expat team that looks like it will be here for many a year to come now."