The Volleyball Federation of Montenegro (OSCG) recently presented awards to the most successful individuals (players and coaches) of 2023.
At the ceremony held at the VOCO Hotel in Podgorica, Benjamin Hadžisalihović received the award for the best male player in the domestic championship for the past year, while the prize for the most promising male player in 2023 was claimed by the youngest member of the senior national team of Montenegro, Nikola Đurović.
Hadžisalihović played a prominent role as OK BUDVA secured a clean sweep of the domestic competitions, while leading them to the top of the EPCG Super League by the end of 2023. Moreover, the team performed well on the European stage too. Đurović was the youngest member of the Montenegrin national team at this year’s EuroVolley Men in Skopje. He is also a member of the U19 and U22 national teams, as well as of the Bjelo Polje-based team Jedinstvo. The two awards were presented by the OSCG President, Cvetko Pajković.
The most promising female player in Montenegro this year is Kristina Božović, who is one of the top players in the EPCG Super League in the current season. The award for the opposite hitter of Luka BAR was presented by the newly elected President of the OSCG Assembly, Milan Franović.
The award for the best men’s coach in domestic competitions was claimed by Miljan Bošković. He concluded the previous season as the head coach of Budućnost Volley and commenced the current one at the helm of OK Budva, leading them through highly competitive matches in the qualifications for the elite CEV Champions League and in the CEV Cup as well. Budva emerged as the leaders at the end of the calendar year in the EPCG Super League and has secured a spot in the semi-finals of the Montenegrin Cup. Bošković is also the head coach of the U22 men’s national team and was a member of the staff of the senior national team at EuroVolley. The award was presented by OSCG Secretary General, Ivan Bošković.
The prize for the best women’s coach in 2023 has gone to Vladimir Milačić, the long-standing head coach of Luka BAR. Milačić guided the ‘Sirenas’ to a second-place finish in the last edition of the national league, a position the Bar team maintained at the end of the first half of the ongoing championship. Additionally, Luka BAR has reached the semi-finals of the Montenegrin Cup. The award was presented to the former head coach of the senior women’s national team by the outgoing President of the OSCG Assembly, Zoran Vukčević.
The best male player competing abroad is the opposite hitter for the national team and Slovenia’s Triglav KRANJ, Đorđe Jovović. He was the top scorer in the last edition of the Slovenian national league and leads in points and serves in the current campaign as well. The best female player performing abroad is Mina Dragović, a middle blocker for the senior national team and Jedinstvo STARA PAZOVA in Serbia. She was part of the team that secured fourth place in the 2023 CEV Silver League.
The most successful female player in the domestic championship in 2023 is the former captain of the Montenegrin national team and OK Herceg Novi, Tatjana Bokan, now a member of Egypt’s Al Ahli. This past season, she helped OK Herceg Novi to a historic double domestic crown.
Due to their club commitments, they were unable to attend the ceremony in the Montenegrin capital, and the awards will be presented at a later stage.
The year 2023 was very interesting and challenging for Montenegro’s Volleyball family.
The men’s senior national team competed in their third consecutive European Championship, participating in the group stage contested in North Macedonia. Meanwhile, there was notable progress made by the senior women’s team, who, as group leaders, qualified for the Final Four tournament of the CEV Silver League and eventually secured fourth place.
The U17 men’s team competed in the European Championship, which was held in Montenegro, with participation of as many as 16 of Europe’s best teams. Volleyball fans in Podgorica witnessed the emergence of the future stars of the sport. Throughout the year, youth and junior teams from Montenegro competed in various age categories in their respective Balkan championships too.
The OSCG successfully delivered the second year of the ‘Free Volleyball School’ project, promoting Volleyball in schools across the country since this past September. The seventh season of the EKO Mini Volleyball is underway. It has gathered a record number of participants – 900 children aged nine to 13 are involved in the most extensive sports project for children in Montenegro.