JUNE 21 2007 13:19h

Croat Constructs Stadium for 2010 WC in RSA


More than 100 years ago, the Sinovic family set out to RSA, into the unknown, and now the suburbs of the capital in named after them.

2010 World Football Championship will be held in the Republic of South Africa, slightly exotic for the World Championship, but this was a result of a promise which stated that the greatest football competition is to move from continent to continent every four years. For the past few months, opponents of the championship being held in Africa had their fifteen minutes of fame when problems in stadium construction occurred. FIFA president is staying in SAR, convincing everyone how nothing can prevent the championship from being held where it was anticipated. After the Republic of South Africa got to organise the championship, we have found out that a Croat is supposed to participate in the construction of one of the stadiums: Anthony J. Sinovic, born in SAR and his grandfather Jure Sinovic arrived there as a sailor a long time ago, in 1891.

The Sinovic family originates from Mirca, on the island of Brac, while Jure Sinovic commenced his dream by renting a farm and started growing vegetables. Due to the Boer Wars, Jure Sinovic had to return to Brac, while the final return and stay in Pretoria followed in 1902. This is where George Anton was born, the father of our collocutor Anthony. George Anton married Mary Vukovic as the first couple from Croatia with both people born in RSA to get married there. George Anton Sinovich expanded his father`s business and became a famous entrepreneur and he was the Mayor of Hercules, which was later renamed as Pretoria. The City of Pretoria is situated in the Tshawne municipality and it still has not been decided what it will be called: Pretoria or Tshawne. Among other things, he was the representative of the region and the province in which he worked on and he also became an honorary Kingdom of Yugoslavia consul from 1933 until 1948. He was famous for his humanitarian work, especially during World War II when he sent aid to refugee camps in North Africa and Yugoslavia as well.

His relevancy is visible in meetings with the Pope, Queen and King of Britain and he was also welcomed by Josip Broz Tito in his Bled residency. George passed away early, at the age of 52 and he managed to turn his farms into Pretoria suburb ┬ľ Sinoville before he died. Right after his death, his children Ursula, George jnr. (late), Anthony and Vincent turned Sinoville together with their mother into one of the largest suburbs of the RSA capital in his honour, and some of the streets bear Croatian names: Marija (Mary), Vinko (Vincent), Antun (Anthony), Brac, Mirca, Konavle. Ursula, Anthony and Vincent are running the business even today and developing it. The Rainbow Junction stadium is one of the Sinovich Group projects.

Rainbow Junction ┬ľ stadium for world championship

The Rainbow Junction stadium was listed in the candidacy as one of two stadiums from Pretoria where the 2010 WC will be played at. Unlike the Loftus Versfeld stadium, which was built in 1906 and renovated in 1977, the Rainbow Junction is a modern construction. As Anthony J.B. Sinovich told us in August 2005, the government has decided that the land on which the stadium is on will be owned by the local authorities, in this case Metropolitan of Tshawne, with which they have an arrangement to sell the land and continue the stadium construction process with them.

The perfect scenario was ruined by politics, as always, change in power in Pretoria, misunderstandings and poor communication between Tshwane, Gauteng province, the government, South African Football Association and FIFA led to forsaking the new Rainbow Junction stadium and renewal of the existing rugby stadium was taken on. The Sinovic family will not quit and they are continuing with the Rainbow Junction project, which does not only include the stadium. The north of Tshawne in Pretoria will be economically and residentially more developed. As Anthony J.B. Sinovich says: -This are needs economic and social improvement”.

In the end, Sinovich, who married Ilona Korunic, whose origins are from Rijeka and Korcula, points out the pride of Croatian roots and stresses that he visits Croatia every year, while his nephew Vincent returned to Croatia where he is living and is a member of the Croatian croquet squad. Another successful story of Croatian people who have succeeded abroad and are not even known, let alone appreciated in Croatia. Perhaps a Croatian politician or a powerful figure might get an idea that finally, Croatian stadiums are a suitable place for watching matches.