Final MLEA CONFERENCE - a multiplier sport event

May 26th, 2023

Zagreb School of Economics and Management presented the conclusion of the MicroLearning Entrepreneuship for Athletes (MLEA) project that has taken place throughout Croatia, Germany, Sweden, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The final Multiplier Sport Event was opened by the independent member of International Olympic Committee Madam Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, the Minister of Sports and Tourism Madam Nikolina Brnjac and the Dean of the Zagreb School of Economics and Management Mato Njavro.


'International Olympic Committee supports such projects with public institutions and different educational, cultural and other centres that enable social integration and business orientation of athletes that have concluded their sports careers. We are aware that athletes' careers last relatively short. The prudent option for any society is to integrate all of its members, particularly those that have acquired top qualities, be it personal or team wise, as the ones gained by athletes. It is important to include them in the economic sphere bringing positive outcomes not only for their personal development but also development of their families, communities, state and global development alike' independent member of International Olympic Committee Madam Kolinda Grabar Kitarović pointed out. The dean of ZSEM Mato Njavro added: 'I believe that for Croatia and athletes in general a programme like this that connects education with sports is extremely important. ZSEM has formed a consortium with two top business schools the Stockholm School of Economics and WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and we have developed an innovative programme that will help out athletes in transition from professional athlete career into business segment and entrepreneurship.'


This two-year international Erasmus+ project is dedicated to athletes that find it very hard to keep track of both professional sport career in line with education that often results with their unpreparedness for the labour market.


'Dual career is extremely important question for top athletes. Government of the Republic of Croatia is continuously taking care of dual education of our athletes by state awards and 527 scholarships in the amount of 800.000 euros. The new Law on Sports takes this into consideration, too, via national scholarships for 1.200 new athletes' concluded the Minister of Tourism and Sports Madam Nikolina Brnjac, PhD. adding that 'Through projects such as this one it is important to actively network because we are all aware how hard it is to balance top sports and education. Projects like this one are a pure joy and I congratulate the organisers.' 


'What is entrepreneurship in sports, in what way can we make it attractive for our athletes, what about dual careers, how to enable them having a career in sports as well as the one in academia – those are the questions of importance in this moment that we are trying to provide the answers for. Gordan Kožulj, Dario Šimić, Snježana Pejčić are examples of athletes that have made huge step forward in their careers after sports and that is what we want to enable all of our athletes' said the president of National Olympic Committee of Croatia Zlatko Mateša.

How exactly and what was done during those two years was explained during the second part of the conference by some of the MLEA partners: Dubravka Kovačević (ZSEM), Martin Carlsson-Wall (SSE), Sascha Schmidt (WHU) and Mirna Korčian Lajtman (ZSEM).


In the third part of the conference two panels titled All Star as well as Young Hopeful were held, with leading experts and successful Croatian athletes as guests.


The first discussion in the All Star was opened by the president of the National Olympic Committee of Croatia Zlatko Mateša, former basketball representative and NBA player Damjan Rudež, taekwondo Olympic bronze medallist Martina Zubčić Dušak, another Olympic bronze medallist shooter Snježana Pejčić, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management professor Sascha Schmidt and finally Stockholm School of Economics' professor Martin Carlsson – Wall.


'Two years ago when my sport career came to the conclusion the important question was what to do. I rested for a while and than got involved in various projects, enrolled into university etc. A life of an athlete is a very specific one, with a very particular life style but for many athletes it is nothing out of the ordinary' said Damjan Rudež while Martina Zubčić Dušak said 'In my family education was considered a must, but for many athletes it is not so. Therefore many find themselves facing a wall after sport career and have no idea where to go next. I am glad that this project recognises this issue and therefore makes others aware of it.'


Shooting medallist Snježana Pejčić is a true example of a successful business woman and top athlete. 'Considering my sports career and a current one as a Head of Career Centre, I deem education as crucial. It is hard to combine both, but it is possible, and we very well know that athletes are not quitters.'


Young Hopeful panel gathered young Croatian athletes – kayak World Vice-Champion Anamaria Govorčinović, Croatian swimming representative Nikola Miljenić, Croatian representative in gymnastics Christina Zwicker, best Croatian foil fencer and a representative Dorja Blažić and representative of a company Adecco Matija Mirković.


'I am a swimmer, and swimming is not a sport where one can earn a lot of money which is a great motivation for a new career after a sports one. I am a university graduate and believe it will be a good starting point for all my future plans' Nikola Miljenić concluded.



Multiplier sport event and the final conference of the Micro Learning Entrepreneurship for Athletes was organised by ZSEM. Partners in the project: Stockholm School of Economics, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, National Olympic Committee of Croatia, Olympic Committee of Serbia, Olympic Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Olympic Committee of Slovenia and European University Sports Association Ins.