Županja-The cradle of football and tennis in Croatia
Županja lies on the Sava River, separating it from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city was first mentioned during the Hungarian kingdom as Županje Blato. Županja began to develop in all sectors, while the economic development in this region was greatly boosted by the English. In Slavonia, as well as Županja and the surrounding area, they were examining the possibilities of wood exploitatin and eventually built a tannin factory. The English introduced their lefestyle, including leisure, which in terms of sports included football and tennis.
English industrialists that arrived in Županja at the end of the 19th century, left also a sports imprint. They have started to employ local people, and then taught the young citizens of Županja their games, mainly football. The English spent their time after work playing with a small, round, compact leather ball. They passed the ball, kicked it and soon they taught the locals the rules of the game and afterwards they also gave them the ball as a gift. Football continued to be played in Županja, while the first football was found in 1979 in a typical border-srossing guardhouse, approximately two centuries old.
The ball was made from natural leather with flaps, one of which was missing. The owner inherited the ball from his ancestors, employed by the tannin factory founded by the English, and he kept varius little things in it. Therefore, he did not pay much attention to the ball. In order to determine the age of the ball, it was sent for an age evaluation to the Karlovac. Technological Center, where it was determined that the leather, from wich the ball was made, is between 90 and 110 years old. The ball was sent to expert analysis in England where it was confirmed that the football indeed dates back to 1880s.
In Županja, on 8 December 2015, a new monument to the first football was uncoverd by the presinen of the Croatian Football Federation Davor Šuker alongside Županja mayor Davor Miličević. The monument is the work of the academic sculptor Krešimir Rod.
The first football and the initial playing activity in Croatia are one of the major features of Županja, and this monument will represent a constant reminder of the Croatian football history to all Županja citizens and visitors.