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Meet the First Woman in History to Sit on Croatia’s Bench

Iva made history on Sunday (photo credit: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Iva made history on Sunday (photo credit: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

Croatia’s opening match at EURO 2016 will not only be remembered for Luka Modrić’s superb match-winning volley, but also for being the first match in the history of the Croatia national team that a female has sat on the bench…

The team’s manager, Iva Olivari, became the first woman to sit on the national team bench at Parc des Princes in the country’s history.

“I would be lying to say that I was not excited. Everyone was a great support, the staff, the team, subs. I think they liked it, and we even achieved a huge result,” Iva, who is well liked among the team, told Hina this week.

Olivari first joined the Croatian football federation in 1992 and worked in the international department before taking on a new role as team manager when Davor Šuker took over the presidency. She was the team’s manager in Brazil at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 but watched the matches from the stands then.

Iva’s role is varied, from organising all travel and logistics, to sorting out any personal issues the players may have.

“The guys are great, I love them a lot and they respect me. With the earlier generation I have a brother-sister relationship with them as we have been together for a long time, since I was Teta Iva (Aunt Iva) to them,” she adds.

Iva with the coaching and backroom staff from FIFA World Cup 2014

Iva with the coaching and backroom staff from FIFA World Cup 2014

Iva was a top sportsperson herself, as a 14-year-old she was the Croatian tennis champion, and even beat the former world number one Steffi Graf in her day.

“They say I was talented. I then got injured and had to stop playing. If someone told me then I would end up in football I would not have believed them,” Iva concluded.

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