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Dear Sports World: We Seriously Need To Talk About Aleksandar Atanasijevic

In a world of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lebron James and Neymar Jr., be an Aleksandar Atanasijevic.

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There is something we already know: Most people don't follow volleyball. In the US, this sport is only watched in two specific instances: during the Olympic Games every four years and on NCAA finals. As a Volleyball follower myself for many years, I believe it is unfair that it doesn't get that much media coverage. The main reason is because in Volleyball there are many things going on on-court and off-court that should be emulated in other major sports. The fact that Volleyball is not widely covered, had made most of their huge stars somehow anonymous not only in the US, but worldwide. Their good or bad examples are never covered by most newspapers. In rare occasions people will be able to mention an indoor volleyball athlete.

In a world like sports is, most of its figures have a huge responsibility becoming role models for younger generations. There are figures like Lebron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar Jr., who are widely known even by those who don't follow any sport. Volleyball players normally won't make it to that list. Even though there might be legendary figures when it comes to Olympic games, unfortunately we don't get to see them in mainstream media that often. That's why we need to talk in this forum about a not so widely known volleyball star: Aleksandar Atanasijevic.

Who is Aleksandar Atanasijevic?

Instagram: @atanasijevic

Aleksandar Atanasijevic is a Serbian player who plays professionally for his national team and for the Sir Safety Perugia club in the Italian league, which is the current European Runner-Up team of the CEV Champions League. Yup, there is a Volleyball Champions League.

If we talk about his personal achievements, we can say that he's been winning Best Opposite and/or MVP, in European and World Championship levels, since he was U19. He is 26 years old and his most current achievement was the Best Opposite award in the CEV Champions League 2017.

I know his achievements on-court are impressive, but they go deeper than that.

Why we need to talk about him?

The other day, I found this article in Italian that made me realize that we are not speaking enough about the figure Atanasijevic is, and not even about similar figures. The writer of this article, expresses that Bata, as his fans in Perugia call him, is that type of character that this sport loves and makes you love him by osmosis. He is pure, empathic, emotional, enthusiast, and lives what he is doing from a perspective which is pretty close to the fans owns'.

The other day, I found this article in Italian that made me realize that we are not speaking enough about the figure Atanasijevic is, and not even about similar figures. The writer of this article, expresses that Bata, as his fans in Perugia call him, is that type of character that this sport loves and makes you love him by osmosis. He is pure, empathic, emotional, enthusiast, and lives what he is doing from a perspective which is pretty close to the fans owns'.

What makes him so special?

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

During the Champions League final in Rome last April, after Perugia lost 0-3 to Russia's Zenith Kazan, Atanasijevic found his ways to the bleachers, when his fans least expect him, and joined the fans leading all the chants.

Facebook: video.php

Just a couple of weeks ago, Sir Safety Perugia won its first Italian Cup throphy. Atanasijevic did it again. He became the life of the celebration. He grabbed the mic and made everyone chant with him.

The way he treats his youngest fans

Atanasijevic has a really deep connection with his youngest fans. He has shown in many instances how engaged he is with the example role that being such a name in the volleyball world gives him.

Atanasijevic has a really deep connection with his youngest fans. He has shown in many instances how engaged he is with the example role that being such a name in the volleyball world gives him.

My own Atanasijevic experience

Instagram: @traveleira

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had to go to Perugia to cover the Eurochocolate festival for my travel blog. Walking around the center of Perugia, I stumbled upon Atanasijevic. As the volleyball groupie I am, I decided to be that annoying fangirl who asks for a picture.

Aleksandar kindly grabbed my phone and took the selfie. Remember how many times we have seen in the news lately that an athlete treated bad a fan who asked for a picture or an autograph? We can totally recall a few. In this case, Atanasijevic was such a gentleman with me in that moment, considering that I was being that annoying fangirl.

It doesn't matter how mainstream the sport can be, an attitude and a figure like this is necessary. Media keeps on feeding us with sports stars negative news. Athletes entitlement tend to take over the news headlines. There must be someone who put out there those who are role models to follow.

Here is Aleksandar Atanasijevic, an unknown superstar in the sports mainstream world conscious of the role model he represents and making the most out of it. I definitely would love that most of the biggest names in the world of sports, would have at least a bit of the humbleness that Atanasijevic shows everywhere he goes.

As I previously mentioned, that article I read the other day said that Atanasijevic is a figure needed in this sport. I strongly disagree with that statement. Aleksandar Atanasijevic is the figure that every major sport, and the Sports world in general, certainly need.

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