Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My first words are of thanks. Thank you for the invitation – it is an honour for me to be here with you. I thank the sister academies for attending. I thank Serbian sports leaders for being here with us. I thank former members of the Hungarian national team for honouring us with their presence. I especially thank János Zsemberi for making it possible for me to be here today. I thank István Pásztor for supporting this programme throughout, and I thank those who took part in the construction of the Academy for their physical and intellectual work.
Sport – and football in particular – is a shared language in Central Europe. It is natural that sport binds together the peoples of Central Europe – in this instance Serbs and Hungarians. It is natural, but hardly usual: we have a difficult history, and for many decades more things divided us than united us. Today, however, different winds are blowing. The winds that are blowing today are filling the sails of those who unite and cooperate. We are living in a Europe where those who cooperate will gain in strength, while those who seek division will weaken and disintegrate. Serbs and Hungarians have chosen the path of cooperation. In choosing cooperation we have chosen well – in politics, the economy, culture, and also in sport. For this I thank President Vučić, whose friendship and support we have always been able to rely on. It is easy to find mutual respect between Hungarian and Serbian athletes, as we are both major sporting nations. I wish our Serbian sports friends every success in the future.
Why has Topolya been chosen? For major undertakings, Ladies and Gentlemen, one needs partners: brave, determined partners with imagination. Fortune led me to János Zsemberi, who agreed to arrange for the provision and rational utilisation of Hungarian funding for sport in Serbia. It was his recommendation that we should begin here; because this is only the beginning. A great many tasks await us: there are sports complexes to be built, and the sporting activities of thousands of children to be organised. In other words, great adventures await us. Why here, in Serbia? The answer is simple: many Hungarians live here, and the motherland has an interest in the success of those who live here. Furthermore, my generation is biased in favour of Serbia. People of my age still remember Serbia as it was in the eighties: it was more developed than Hungary and it was freer than Hungary; and, I believe, people here lived more happily than in Hungary. I am convinced that those who have already reached the top will be able to do so again – this is only a question of time. I am certain that we will live to see Serbia reach the top again.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is a Hungarian saying: “Today you, tomorrow me.” This means something like “Today you are doing better, while tomorrow I will do better.” Whoever is doing better at any given time must commit to more, must contribute more to joint efforts, and must take the initiative. This is why Hungary has taken the first step, and has underwritten the majority of this project. In the spirit of Central European solidarity we did well to make this decision. And, ultimately, most important of all are children. If there are children, there is a future. If the minds, characters and bodies of children are well-developed and strong, then our future will also be well-developed and strong. The surest path to that destination is sport: it develops the mind, the character and the body all at once. To play football one needs smarts, fighting spirit and physical strength. My Friends, those who play sport always do well in the end; the most talented ones may even achieve world renown. Those of us whose passion for sport surpassed their talent did not rise to the ranks of the world’s best, but we have equipped ourselves for life with willpower and the ability to fight. This is also why I am standing here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sport teaches us the two most important things in life: to win honestly, and to lose with dignity. Those who are able to do this are able to do anything.
May you enjoy the blessings of what we have built for you. Be honest, brave and strong. Cover the distance ahead of you – as life is worthless unless you do something with it. And when the time comes, do not forget to return that which your country has done for you. We have faith in you. Make Serbia and Hungary great! Go for it!