Radomir Šaper

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Radomir Šaper
Born (1925-12-09)9 December 1925
Belgrade, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Died 6 December 1998(1998-12-06) (aged 72)
Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia
Nationality Serbian
Occupation Basketball player
Basketball administrator,
University professor
Academic administrator
Spouse(s) Ljiljana Šaper
Children Srđan Šaper

Radomir “Raša” Šaper (Serbian Cyrillic: Радомир Шапер; 9 December 1925 – Belgrade, 6 December 1998), was a professor and Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy of the University of Belgrade, a member of the Yugoslav national basketball team and, later, an official of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia and President of the Technical Commission of FIBA.[1]

Life[edit]

Radomir Šaper was born to a Greek father, Panagiotis Siaperas, a retailer from the village of Eratyra in northern Greece, and a Serbian mother, Vukosava Mihajlović. In 1919, after World War I, his father moved to Belgrade where he changed his name to Panta Šaper. The couple's first son Svetislav "Sveta" was born in early 1924, Radomir, some twenty months later in the family home in Stevan Sremac's Street in Belgrade.[2]

Young Radomir attended the "Vuk Karadžić" primary school and the Second Men's Gymnasium in Belgrade, from which he graduated in 1944. In 1946, he enrolled in the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy of the University of Belgrade, graduating in 1950. He earned his doctorate degree in 1964, became an associate professor in 1968, and a full professor at the Faculty four years later. In 1980, Professor Šaper was appointed Vice-Dean of the Faculty and worked there until his retirement in 1991.[3]

While teaching at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, Professor Šaper published more than 150 scientific and professional papers. He was the author or co-author of five books on analytical chemistry and automatic regulation of chemical processes.[4] He spent 1957 studying in Amsterdam, where he prepared his doctoral dissertation. In 1967, he agreed to start the Chemistry Institute in Khartoum, Sudan, as a UN expert. However, despite the desire of the government of Sudan and the United Nations that he stay longer, after a year Šaper returned to his home country to fulfil his role as president of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia.

In 1953 he married Ljiljana Marjanović, a history professor at Belgrade primary school "Vuk Karadžić", where she also worked as school director from 1980 to 1990. Ljiljana graduated from the Belgrade University of Philosophy. She was also the president of the Belgrade Historical Society and a member of the Serbian Historical Society.[5] Radomir also attended this school, formerly known as the Palilula Primary School, from 1932 to 1936, as did members of Ljiljana’s family from around 1820, when they first settled in Belgrade. Radomir and Ljiljana had a son, Srđan, who is famous as one of the founding members of the popular band VIS Idoli that started a new wave in the music and culture scene of Yugoslavia in the 1980s.[6] Since 1997, Srđan Šaper has been the head of I&F McCann Grupa, a leading marketing communications company in Southeast Europe.

Šaper defined his political stance - democracy and a multiparty system, in 1945 when he, then nineteen, returned from the Syrmia Front. The experience of the conscious sacrifice of an entire generation fundamentally influenced his democratic political views, to which he remained faithful until his death.[7] Never a member of the League of Communists, in January 1990, he was one of the first members of the newly established Democratic Party. He remained in the party the rest of his life, and was at various times a member of its Political Council, chairman of the University Council, president of the Belgrade Committee and a member of the General Committee of the Democratic Party.

Basketball career[edit]

Radomir Šaper
Career information
Playing career 1945–1953
Career history
1945 Crvena zvezda
1946–1953 Partizan
Career highlights and awards
FIBA Hall of Fame as player

Raša Šaper learned his first basketball moves at the Second Men's grammar school from his teacher, Đoka Ilić, and shared enthusiasm for basketball with his elder brother Sveta. They began playing basketball together with the BASK basketball club, which officially marked the beginning of Raša's basketball career.[8]

The International Basketball Federation was formed in 1936, and four years later, on 20 November 1940, the Yugoslavian National Basketball Organisation was established and became a member of FIBA, which had 36 members at the time. The Belgrade Championship was held in 1942, and the history of Yugoslavian basketball began, with Raša and Sveta Šaper defending the colours of BASK. At first, basketball was played in the House of King Alexander, then in Sokolana, but the sport of basketball did not truly come alive until early 1945. The generation of players that grew up during the war years welcomed the end of the war in the spring of 1945, and the first basketball court was laid out on the tennis courts at Mali Kalemegdan. It was at this time that Raša and his fellow players joined the newly formed Red Star basketball club. [9]

Just four months after the war ended, the boys from Kalemegdan played in Subotica as the Serbian team in the first national championship. The team consisted of Raša and Sveta Šaper, Nebojša Popović, Vasilije Stojković, Pavle Kostić, Ivan Dimić, Miodrag Stefanović and Mile Nikolić. In the final game, the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) team defeated the Serbian team with 21-16.[10]

Along with Radomir Šaper, the first players for Red Star were: Aleksandar Nikolić, Bora Stanković, Mija Stefanović and Nebojša Popović, who was also team captain and coach.[11]

Strong rivalry and constant competition were needed for basketball to truly develop in the country and advance as a sport. More clubs and more teams were formed. Mobilised in late October 1944, despite the liberation of Belgrade, Raša had not yet been demobilised. At that time, together with his brother Sveta, he was ordered by the command to transfer from the Red Star team to the Partizan basketball club led by Ratko Vlahović along with Božo Grkinić. Also on the team were Pavle Kostić, Čeda Stojićević, Bora Jovanović, who also played volleyball, Zlatko Kovačević, a hockey player for Partizan and also a volleyball player. Kovačević was multi-talented and played for the national teams of Yugoslavia in all three sports. Slavko Arnerić, the father of the actress Neda Arnerić, was on the team, too.[12]

The rivalry between the clubs intensified year after year in all sports, including basketball. Particularly interesting championships were held in 1950 and 1951 when Partizan and Red Star scored the same number of points, but Red Star won both titles thanks to a better points-difference. Radomir Šaper played for Partizan from 1946 until 1953. Slavko Arnerić, Nenad Kušić, Milan Miladinović, Bora Stanković, Vilmoš Loci, Lajoš Engler, Mirko Marjanović, Zlatko Kovačević, Ratko Vlahović, Boža Munćan and others played alongside him.[13]

The Yugoslav national team played its first international game in Bucharest in 1946, losing to Romania. Their first victory came two days later against Albania. At the European Championships in Czechoslovakia in 1947, the team finished next to last, after which Frenchman Henri Hell became the Yugoslav national team coach. He invited Radomir Šaper to Opatija to prepare for the qualifying tournament in Nice, where Raša played his first game with the national team.[14]

After his career as a player ended, Radomir remained in basketball all his life as an official, primarily addressing the issues of organisation and development of basketball as a sport and improving the rules of the game and the quality of refereeing. Together with Bora Stanković, he worked with the talented basketball players of the BSK basketball club, called OKK Beograd since 1958. Bora was the coach, and Raša was the technical manager. They spent four years together with the club, and their meticulous work produced a remarkable result – the championship title in 1958/59. OKK Beograd produced many talented basketball players, including the first major legend of Belgrade basketball, Radivoj Korać.

Sports official[edit]

At the first World Basketball Championship in Buenos Aires in 1950, Yugoslavia finished last, without achieving a single victory. Three years later, at the European Championship in Moscow, Yugoslavia finished in sixth place. Following these results, Danilo Knežević, then President of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia, invited Radomir Šaper, Borislav Stanković, Nebojša Popović and Aleksandar Nikolić, all active athletes whose playing careers were in decline or completely over, to join his staff. [15]

In the following decades, Knežević’s choices proved to be the right ones, as they became the four pillars on which Yugoslav basketball was built. Back in 1945, when the four played together, they had the same goals, ideas, ambitions and strengths to turn their fantasies of achieving European and global heights into reality. Thus, the strategy to take Yugoslav basketball to the top was set in stone. The coach, Aleksandar Nikolić, immediately went to the United States for professional training. Popović, Stanković and Šaper were just beginning to demonstrate their organisational skills. Raša was the first to receive an official position as leader of the Technical Secretariat, later renamed the Competition Commission. Popović soon became the vice-president of the Federation, and Stanković was the first “team leader” and, later, Secretary General.

In mid-1958, the new management decided to apply to organise the twelfth European Championship, which was scheduled to take place in 1961. Nineteen teams signed up for the championship because at that time there were no qualifying games. They played from dawn to dusk for eight days. With phenomenal performances, Yugoslavia managed to reach the finals against the then-invincible team from the Soviet Union. [16] After an epic struggle, Yugoslavia was defeated, thus winning the silver medal. This first medal in the history of Yugoslav basketball was a result beyond expectations and created new opportunities to compete with the world’s best teams. Coach Aleksandar Popović led the winning team, and Korać won the title of Europe's best scorer with 216 points in nine games. This medal was followed by the rapid popularisation of basketball in the country; new clubs were sprouting up everywhere, and the number of players started to rise. Confirmation that a formula for success had been found came two years later in 1963 at the World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, where the team again won the silver medal, behind Brazil. In this Championship, they defeated both the USA (75-73) and the USSR (69-67). Later that year, at the European Championship in Wroclaw, they won another medal – this time bronze. [17]

In late February 1965, at the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia conference held in Sarajevo, one of the closest associates of former Federation President Knezević, Radomir Šaper, Ph.D. in engineering, was elected president. For the first time in post-war Yugoslav sports, a former national team player became the president of a sports association. [18] In 1967, Šaper was re-elected president, and in the autumn of that year, real basketball began, and a championship for the first time was played on courts, according to the European Basketball Calendar.

In 1970, Yugoslavia was the host of the World Championship and beat the American team 70-63 in the final game, thus winning its first gold medal. Involved in this historical success of winning the country’s first world title were: Ratomir Tvrdić, Ljubodrag Simonović, Vinko Jelovac, Trajko Rajković, Aljoša Žorga, Dragan Kapičić, Ivo Daneu, Krešimir Ćosić, Damir Šolman, Nikola Plećaš, Dragutin Čermak, Petar Skansi, Ranko Žeravica, the coach, and the president of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia, Radomir Šaper. [19]

At the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia Conference, held in Skopje on 26 June 1970, Raša Šaper was once again elected president along with vice-presidents Željko Cindrić and Nebojša Popović. Bora Stanković was elected secretary-general and Boris Kristančić chosen as president of the Advisory Committee. [20] Radomir Šaper was the president of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia until 1973, when he was appointed secretary general. He was also the commissioner of the Yugoslav Basketball Cup and the creator and initiator of the YUBA League, a national championship organised and conceived to be the strongest tournament in the world after the American NBA. [21]

At the Congress of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) held on 24 August 1972, Radomir Šaper was elected president of its Technical Commission, a position in which he remained until his death in 1998. Together with Bora Stanković, he was a member of the Central Board. His contributions to the development and improvement of basketball in the world were invaluable, including introduction of new and innovative rules and improvement in the quality of refereeing.[22]

Radomir Šaper initiated many positive changes in Yugoslav basketball, primarily those related to the ability of the basketball organisation to strategically manage the development of the game. His invaluable contribution to the promotion of basketball rules at the international level has often been acknowledged. Since 2001, FIBA has handed out the “Radomir Šaper” award for significant contributions to furthering basketball in the world. FIBA also posthumously awarded Raša Šaper its Order of Merit. And on 1 March 2007, in Alcobendas, Spain, the FIBA Hall of Fame opened. Together with 38 others honored were five basketball players, coaches, referees and basketball officials from Serbia who had contributed greatly to the sport of basketball. One of them was Professor Radomir “Raša” Šaper.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Book[edit]

  • Jelena Kosanić Podunavac and Bojan Milovanović: Radomir Šaper – How Yugoslav basketball emerged, Belgrade 2005, ISBN 86-85861-02-0
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Danilo Knežević
President of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia
1965–1973
Succeeded by
Radoslav Savić