Romania, disturbing story after the Belgrade massacre: cup won in memory of murdered daughter

Exactly 10 months after his daughter, Ema, lost her life in the armed attack at school, coach Dragan Kobiljski won the Romanian Volleyball Cup.

Dragan Kobiljski. PHOTO: Marius Ionescu Facebook / FRV

Historic day in Giulesti! Rapid conquered for the first time the Romanian Men's Volleyball Cup – organized by the Romanian Volleyball Federation in Mioveni – after an extremely spectacular final won with a score of 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-14, 28-26 ) in front of Stella. The team dedicated the victory to coach Dragan Kobiljski, who, exactly 10 months ago, lost one of his daughters in the Belgrade massacre.

On May 3, 2023, the world was shaken by the armed attack at a school in the capital of Serbia, when a teenager killed 8 classmates in cold blood. Among the victims was Ema, the only 13-year-old daughter of the current coach of Rapid. Exactly 10 months after that incredible tragedy, Dragan Kobiljiski was able to smile again: he won with Rapidul the first Romanian Cup in men's volleyball in the club's history.

As the technician later confessed, his daughter's spirit constantly accompanied him during the game. He felt it on his shoulders and pushed him to victory. That's why he dedicated this success to him.

Yes, this victory is for my angel. Yes. And I felt it on my shoulders and it helped me enormously” – Dragan Kobiljski, coach Rapid.

One of Rapid's heroes in this Final Four, lifter Filip Constantin, knows exactly what his coach went through ten months ago, because last year he was with him at SCM Zalău when he received the news of the tragedy. That's why he wanted to dedicate the success to the technician and his family.

I was there with Dragan from the very beginning and somehow we dedicate this cup to him and his family. It's a more delicate subject, it's hard for me to talk about it, but yes, we dedicate it” – Filip Constantin, Rapid player.

At Rapid, the Serbian technician leads a true Dream Team, made up of 24-carat world volleyball stars. He says it is an honor, but also a great joy to be able to coach such class players.

It is a team with brilliant players, but first and foremost they are good people. And they know what it means to sacrifice for the team, they know what it means to sacrifice for their teammates and throughout this tournament they showed that to everyone every minute, every point” – Dragan Kobiljski, coach Rapid.

And Filip Constantin is very happy that he can play alongside such valuable volleyball players.

They are world-class players, top 10 guys. You have a lot to learn from them, because they are consummate professionals, and I am really very proud and grateful to be able to be part of this star-studded team, so to speak so. Basically, they are still volleyball players, like us, but with a different status” – Filip Constantin, Rapid player.

The national title, Rapid's next target in volleyball

The son of former international great Marian Constantin, Filip feels that from now on, with this victory, he will no longer be weighed down by the weight of his father's reputation, which is consumed in every game played by the Romanian international.

I think the name clicked on me. Until now it was a push, from now on there will be no problem. Dad gets really drunk at my matches, I know that, even if he says he doesn't want to get drunk. But I can feel it in my voice that he lives every point with me and I'm glad that I made everyone happy. This trophy is a dream come true” – Filip Constantin, Rapid player.

The victory in the Romanian Cup opened the appetite of the speed players for other successes. So the next target is the title of national champion, for which they will fight in the next two months.

Of course, we are thinking of continuing on the same line. We will continue the same, this is not the end, it is just a victory and everything will continue, everything is possible. But before the play-offs I must say that it will be very interesting there, I think there are 3 or 4 teams that can win the title of champion, so we will have to fight to achieve this dream as well” – Dragan Kobiljski, coach Rapid.

There were over 1,000 fans in the stands at the Romanian Volleyball Cup final

The men's final of the Romanian Cup was watched by over a thousand spectators, something also emphasized by the president of the Romanian Volleyball Federation, Adin Cojocaru.

“The boys' result, 7th place at last year's European Championship, brought more people to the Romanian Cup, at least to the final of the Romanian Cup for boys. It was a natural participation, no one invited them, and they actually came and created this show. Having a thousand or so people in a hall, for volleyball for the Romanian Cup, is a first step in our development” – Adin Cojocaru, FRV president.

And the head of the federation says that the presence of world-class stars from Rapid really helps Romanian volleyball.

These players are models and transmit information, desire to play for the Romanian player. This was also proven in the semi-final and final contested by Rapid, with Filip Constantin, who was brilliant in both matches. It means that the Romanian deserves to be in the field. And there are other players at Rapid who have increased in value” – Adin Cojocaru, FRV president.