GA: MORE THAN JUST SOCCER
Emir Mizdrak and Deni Lulic share a passion for soccer. Both 19, they've played club ball together and were on the boys team at Central Gwinnett High in Lawrenceville.
Sunday, the young men dribbled, passed and shot on goal at a different setting.
No matter that the field was a little smaller than regulation and that the goal posts were made of wood. It was soccer, and the competition was intense, if friendly.
Dozens of young men competed in the daylong series of games at the Bosnian Community Center off Centerville Highway in Snellville.
"The people really get into it," Lulic said of the event, which is usually held on the first Sunday of each month.
Tired and a little smudged by the action, Lulic and Mizdrak took home trophies Sunday afternoon for their exemplary play.
There's more to the 8.3-acre Islamic cultural center near Highpoint Road than just play.
The focal point is its mosque, housed in a converted two-story home.
Bosnians who resettled in metro Atlanta after the Balkan wars hold Friday prayers and a weekly congregational service. The center has religious classes and soon may offer English as a Second Language, said Imam Ismet Zejnelovic, 51.
Census estimates have the Bosnian population in metro Atlanta at about 5,000, but Zejnelovic and others have put the number a good bit higher. Many live in Gwinnett, largely in Lawrenceville and Snellville. Most are Muslims. Zejnelovic said the Snellville cultural center has about 650 members.
Zejnelovic said soccer is a good way to draw people from all faiths to a picnic setting. T-shirts have references to Bosnia or feature maps of the country. Tiny Bosnian flags are attached to car mirrors, while other vehicles proudly tote Bosnia bumper stickers.