Yuya Small
Hajduk. Yuya. Fukushima, Japan, 2013

Why Hajduk? I asked.

“I had no idea about Hajduk before my friend gave me this shirt. However, since then I became interested in the club, and that beautiful city in Croatia.”

To my great surprise, Yuya came that day to work wearing a snow white Hajduk shirt. He said good morning and quietly sat to have our usual tasteless bowl of miso soup and rice for breakfast. We are spending days wondering through the exclusion zone around crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant documenting half-lives of poor people of Fukushima and the last thing I would expect him to wear is a shirt of the club of my childhood, together with “Hajduk Živi Vječno” (Hajduk Lives Forvever) written across his chest.

It definitely made my day. It also made surreal scenery of Fukushima’s ghost towns even more surreal. Naturally, I could not stop taking pictures of Yuya as we walked around. This shirt should really be worn on Split’s promenade or at the stadium, something my Japanese friend dreams about since he was introduced to the club. But, parading it for zombies of Fukushima is definitely something very special and I express my uttermost gratitude to the gods of coincidence for making it happen.

What Yuya didn’t know is that my beloved and legendary great-aunt Esma, another hero of my family’s great WW2 partisan heritage, was so in love with Hajduk that she awarded me with its honorary membership card for my first birthday. That was ages ago. Strina Esma had departed her Dubrovnik for heavens since, I lost my card and Hajduk erased its red star from all club related insignia as it never existed. But what I feel about the club never really changed despite the new nationalist orientated commissars abandoning its partisan background. Hajduk, “the outlaw” in English but with somehow historically positive connotations will always remain my club and I will always cheer for “majstori s mora” (masters from the sea) as the club was called in over-romanticized sport dictionary of my late fatherland Yugoslavia. Now we even have a fun club in Fukushima – something those beggars from Dinamo, Partizan and Zvezda can only dream about.

Yuya Fukushima Small
Hajduk walks the empty street of ghost town Namie in Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s