Emina Hadžiahmetović – Queen of table tennis
Emina Hadžiahmetović is the best table tennis player of all time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the last 15 years, Emina has been achieving historical results in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Emina admits that through those 15 years, she was subjected to much prejudice. Luckily Emina overcame the years of prejudice, and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be proud of their table tennis champion.
Sister as role model and motivation
I am Emina Hadžiahmetović and I play table tennis. I started playing table tennis when I was six years old. My sister played table tennis and through her I was introduced to the sport. Then I was still a little girl who was fascinated by the ball and racket. I decided to stick with it, and to develop my skill. Of course then I was not aware of what professional table tennis was, nor what it meant to be a top player in Bosnia and Herzegovina. My biggest motivation is my sister who is also my trainer, and who is with me at every single match no matter the outcome. Next to my sister are my parents and my other sister, few but honest friends, and even acquaintances. But also strangers I meet on the street who recognize me and say lovely things like, “Good luck!” All of that motivates me. It motives me how much Bosnia and Herzegovina needs successful people who can help others within our society. This is one of my goals; to become successful enough to have the ability to help others also become successful in their lives.
Prejudice can do me no harm
As the years went by and as I achieved historical results in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I came across a range of obstacles and discrimination. In that time, I became much more self-aware. I am currently 21 years old, and for the time that I have trained in table tennis, I have met a lot of people and listened to a lot of different opinions. I asked myself many times whether I should continue with table tennis, considering that sport does not have a strong level of support in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, sport is not the only problem, but I often asked myself whether I should play professionally, or whether I should simply stop with what I have achieved so far, and with that end my table tennis career. It is not easy being successful in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be a woman, to not be judged on numerous levels. I had many situations where I was belittled for my results, for my successes, for my sport, especially within the BiH society. I would get goose bumps every time someone said to me that table tennis was a “pick up a racket and swing your arms around” sport. However, on the other hand, when people would praise me for my achievements, that was also not good enough. Out of the jealousy of others, enemies would be made. However this may sound, and I believe it sounds raw, it is simply the reality of it. No matter in what way you are successful in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’re not good enough. I listened to so much talk like that about myself, and was faced with situations where I could not believe the level of judgement others can pass onto you. However, when I finish with something then I finish with it forever. That’s how it was with the prejudice and with the negative commentary that I was so often dealt. I told myself that it was simply irrelevant, because for me it is not easy to give up when I know how much time and effort I put into playing table tennis. When I realized that I was my true self when I played table tennis, I told myself that I wanted to continue. Continue to fight and to play, and to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina. I realized that is doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about my sport or about my results, the only thing that matters is how I feel. I decided to keep playing table tennis when I saw how happy it made me and my family together, and that at this moment I cannot see myself without table tennis. I have had many situations where I have been proud of the medals I received for Bosnia and Herzegovina. But in a way I am most proud that I didn’t let myself quit, even though I was often on the fence. I didn’t allow myself to become something I am not, to throw away all my years of training, and to accept that I had lost in life.
Never give up on your dreams
I am glad and proud that amongst so many obstacles, and unfortunately amongst many people who pushed me down in various ways, I managed to find myself in this moment and decide that that which currently fulfils me and makes me happy, is table tennis. In the end I would suggest to all women, to never give up on their dreams. To never let anyone tell them that there is something they cannot do, because only if they truly want something can they then achieve it; I would encourage them to fight. I would also like to say that we only have one life, and we have to make an effort to live it the way we want and the way we feel. But most importantly, to find that which makes us happy and to follow it. In saying that, it is also really important for us to be human. Everything in life is temporary, be it good or bad. Everything will come to pass at some point, and it’s on us to try in both the good and the bad situations, to be good people. To fight not only for our lives, but for others.
This text was edited and prepared by Sunita Hotić, volunteer at CURE Foundation.
This text was translated by Nevena Ključanin, volunteer at CURE Foundation.