Serbian handball legend, Olympic gold medallist and long-time EHF lecturer Branislav Pokrajac passed away at the age of 71
Branislav Pokrajac 1947 – 2018
It is the sad duty of the European Handball Federation to report the death of Serbian handball legend, Olympic gold medallist and well-known personality among the EHF’s lecturers, Branislav Pokrajac.
Born in Belgrade on 27 January 1947, Pokrajac started playing handball when he was a student at the Fifth Belgrade Gymnasium. His playing career saw him taking to the court for ORK “Belgrade”, HC “Red Star” and HC “Dinamo”.
With the national team of Yugoslavia he came third at the World Championships in 1970 in France and 1974 in the German Democratic Republic. In 1972 he was part of the team that won gold at the Munich OIympics – only one year later he published his own account in the form of the book ‘How we won gold’.
He was equally successful as coach, leading teams on club and national team level across the world for nearly four decades.
In 1984, Yugoslavia won gold at the Los Angeles Olympic Games with Pokrajac as coach. Two years earlier, Yugoslavia had won silver at the World Championship in Germany under his guidance. In the 1980s and 1990s he coached Spain, the USA and Egypt. Eventually he returned to his handball origins and led Yugoslavia to bronze at the World Championship 2001.
On club level he coached several Yugoslav clubs, but also, among other, French side Creteil and Porto in Portugal.
Pokrajac equally made a name for himself on handball’s academic side. Being a professor for handball at Belgrade’s Faculty of Physical Education, he was also an EHF lecturer since the very early days of the European Handball Federation and part of the EHF’s first Top Coaches’ Seminar in Paris in 1995.
In 2017, he still worked as a tutor for the EHF Master Coaches who participated in the academic certification programme of the University of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria and the European Handball Federation.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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