Connecting Football and Innovations (Croatian Case)

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Croatian National Team is pretty good in football, we are in top 20 teams in FIFA rankings for a long time now. So, Croatia is really strong in the most popular sport in the world despite the fact that it has population of only 4 million. How is this possible and why Croatia is not so good in other areas/disciplines?

The answer is simple, despite the fact that Croats have talent for sport (or we like to think in that direction), Croatia has very good football infrastructure. Every kid can train this sport even before his 5th birthday in many clubs or academies, with 8-9 years they are starting to play games in real competitions. From the very start, trainers (mostly former footballers) teach kids about football technique. We can say that every kid born in Croatia have a good chance to become a great footballer, much bigger chance that in many other countries.

But, where is my connection with innovations? Imagine similar program for “trainings” of creativity or entrepreneurship where kids in kindergarten or in elementary school will be introduced with innovations and where they will start to develop their “inventions”. This program should introduce creative competitions and a possibility of learning through play, which will make future innovators and entrepreneurs.

In oppositions to football, Croatia is not placed among top in innovation scoreboards. European Innovation Scoreboard puts Croatia among bottom 3 countries inside European Union. What is particularly sad is the fact that the Croatian Innovation Index in recent years even declined!?

Although intellectual property, knowledge society or innovation are words that we often hear from our politicians or economists, many Croatian companies are now on that very start to initiate the development of ideas, through a special process that supported the first improvements and then also innovation. The innovation process is possible in any organization, no matter if it is a software company, or a one hundred years old factory. Its results bring savings, profits, competitive advantage, but also happy and fulfilled participants – employees.

In football, we have a coach who leads the team and winning using tactics and skill of its players, here we should have a leader who by using organizational strategy is leading his colleagues through the challenges of innovation. Therefore, it is necessary to invest in innovation, but also to learn how to manage it by building specially adapted process and innovation culture in the organization.

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