Community Spotlight – Josip Kravar & Dinko Irsag

Both Josip Kravar and Dinko Irsag have played a big part in the growth of Australian Football in Europe and their home country of Croatia.

Josip has undertaken a number of roles, from playing, coaching, and being the president of the Zagreb Hawks, to being a commissioner with AFL Europe.

Just like Josip, Dinko has also played, coached and held a number of roles within Australian Rules Football in Croatia, including President and General Secretary of the league.

Now Josip has decided to step down as an AFL Europe Commissioner, fellow countryman and friend Dinko Irsag is set to take his place on the commission.

They’ve both been around the game for a long time now, and they both had a similar introduction to the game. For Josip, he had a family member from Adelaide who introduced him to the game back in 2006 and he has loved it ever since.

Dinko’s introduction and desire to be involved in the sport also comes from family. “I came back from Australia, where my parents wouldn’t let me play footy, and made a deal with my mum, if I found an Aussie Rules team in Croatia, I could play the sport. She regretted that deal,” Irsag said.

Having both played the sport, they know the physical demands it requires at a competitive level. From Dinko’s perspective, he particularly loves the athleticism, speed and communication needed in the sport, while the standout aspect for Josip is the physicality, teamwork and commitment both on and off the field.

Looking forward to the future of AFL in Europe, Josip can see that sport is going in a positive direction.

“We are moving forward with better organisation, better development and a better connection between the countries involved. Lots of good work has been done, and lots more needs to continue being done in the coming years,” Kravar said.

Dinko shares a similar sentiment but also spoke about how the game is growing through the women’s game.

“I think AFL is leaning more and more towards female footy. AFLW did a lot to spur that and women are playing the sport with a passion that helps grow the sport. Other than that, a junior program is probably in the near future. Playing the sport in Australia begins at a young age, the only logical thing is to do the same in Europe,” Irsag said.

Now that Dinko is on the AFL Europe commission, he will continue to look forward with growing the sport in Europe, and it sounds like he already has a number of plans in mind to further that.

As Josip is stepping down, he understands the commitment required to be on the AFL Europe commission but believes Dinko will be a great fit for the role.

“I believe he has the skills to cope with the challenges… This role is very demanding but after all it’s very rewarding,” Kravar said.

“Josip is one of the few players left that remembers the original founders. He has helped footy in Croatia grow from a couple of guys kicking a footy to having a competitive league with multiple clubs in multiple towns. Setting up the CEAFL tournament he expanded footy in our region to help countries with only one experience playing tournament footy and growing their skill level. His work has been instrumental in pushing footy past it’s infancy and into a sport with more than 100 players and over 300 members,” Irsag said.

Both have been crucial for football in Croatia and Europe, and with Dinko stepping up into a commission role, that work is bound to continue at both a local level with the Sesvete Double Blues and Redlegs as well at a national level. Josip has contributed a lot towards the game and will be missed in his AFL Europe role, but will continue to be significant in Croatia and for his beloved Zagreb Hawks.

With these two still involved with footy, it’s in good hands and if the next generation can learn from them, the game has a positive future in Croatia, Central/Eastern Europe and Europe in general.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe