BTA News

BTA Director General: Balkan Athlete of the Year Award Shows Capability to Recognize Neighbours’ Successes

Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) Director General Kiril Valchev and Minister of Youth and Sport Dimitar Iliev conferred the Balkan Athlete of the Year award at Sofia’s Museum of Sport on Monday. Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic won the 50th edition of BTA’s annual poll; Serbian Ambassador to Bulgaria Zeljko Jovic received the award on Djokovic’s behalf.

The Balkan Athlete of the Year poll is conducted by BTA among the national news agencies in the Balkan countries.

In his speech at the award ceremony, Valchev said that for 50 years, the poll has been a symbol of the common things in the Balkans. No one loses in the poll, because everyone in the region is a winner. “Each of the 13 countries whose national news agencies vote is always a winner, because we in our part of Southeastern Europe are so close and connected that ‘Balkan’ is a word we use for our common things,” he noted.

The poll, organized by BTA 50 times already, is not only an expression of regional affiliation but also of a capability to recognize each others’ successes of the neighbours, and in a part of the world usually linked to misunderstanding and conflicts, Valchev went on to say. At the forthcoming meeting of the Association of the Balkan News Agencies – Southeast Europe (ABNA-SE) in Istanbul this year, he will propose that they start publishing separately a piece of sports news from every agency.

Sports news at BTA have a long history, Valchev noted. The agency’s first piece of news from a stadium dates back to March 24, 1902 (old style); it is about a football game in Glasgow between Englishmen and Scots where the audience burst into the field. “There were 3 people killed and 125 injured, of whom 117 heavily injured,” the story reads. On March 25, 1902, it was specified that 117 people were injured in the game and the number of killed people reached 20.

Hundred years ago, on May 21, BTA reported about the first game of the newly formed Bulgarian national football team. Bulgaria lost to Austria 0-6 in that qualification game for the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics.

Balkan news have been present at BTA since its very establishment: out of the six news reported on February 16, 1898, two were from Istanbul and Athens.