Author: Tamara Mrázová


Pioneer of children’s rights and famous author Astrid Lindgren

What comes to mind when you hear the name Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking? Endless pages of a children’s book that brought true magic and curiosity into our childhoods. Many of us remember eagerly turning page after page along with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson. Do you remember which author stands behind the character of this nine-year-old girl with a unique appearance and unconventional behaviour? It was Astrid Lindgren herself who brought this beloved book into our libraries. At first glance, she may seem like just an ordinary writer, but the truth is quite the opposite. Who was Astrid Lindgren? She was born in 1907 on a farm in Sweden but spent nearly her entire life in the capital city of Stockholm. After an unfortunate romance that resulted in pregnancy, she gave birth to her first son in Copenhagen. Due to financial difficulties, she had to give him up for foster care. However, a few years later, when her life situation improved, she could finally take him back. After this unsuccessful romance, she later on got married, and two years into her marriage, she and her husband had a child. Their daughter, Karin, became the main inspiration for Astrid’s work. “I write to entertain children, and I want to amuse the child within me, too.” Pippi Longstocking In 1941, Astrid decided to write a book about a curious girl who thrives to discover our world. Astrid did it specifically for her daughter, who was ill at the time, to entertain her. While writing, she looked at the story through children’s eyes, and the character’s nature thus resonated with hundreds of thousands of young readers who got a chance to read the book. Pippi wasn’t afraid to be different. She slept with her feet on the pillow and her head under the covers. Astrid showed that doing things differently, in one’s own way, doesn’t mean doing them wrong. Even though Pippi was just a nine-year-old girl, she had such strength that she could even lift a horse. She was successful The book was translated into more than 60 languages from its first edition and continues to enjoy immense popularity to this day. Astrid received the Hans Christian Andersen Award, considered the highest possible honor for authors of children’s books. The stories of Pippi Longstocking have been adapted into numerous films, television series, and theatrical plays. The most famous is the Swedish television adaptation from 1969-1973, where the main character was played by Inger Nilsson. “Life is something you have to take care of. Don’t you realize that?” Astrid was a rebel As she herself often stated, Astrid didn’t want to bend to rebellion. In her works, she broke societal standards, creating a new image of independence. Even Pippi herself was a feminist. Astrid hid everything that couldn’t be openly discussed between the lines. Pioneer of rights Astrid actively fought for children’s and minority rights. She respected diversity and  physical punishment of children, which was common at the time. She believed that every child has the right to feel loved, protected, and safe. For her efforts, she received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993. Growing up on a farm gave Astrid a close connection to animals. Thanks to her efforts, she managed to change the farming system in Sweden, pushing the country to one of the most progressive positions in agriculture at that time. Because of her, animals suffered less and lived in more humane conditions. What a throwback Do you remember how did the famous story start? “On the outskirts of a tiny little town was a neglected garden. In the garden stood an old house, and in that house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She had no mother or father, which was actually quite nice, because it meant that no one could tell her that she had to go to bed just when she was having the most fun. And no one could make her take cod liver oil when she would rather eat sweets.” “I am frecklier and more beautiful than ever. If it carries on like this I’ll be downright irresistible.” – Pippi Longstocking 


Do you know what benefits meditation offers?

Meditation is an ancient practice rooted in various cultures and spiritual traditions. In recent decades, its popularity has steadily grown. More and more people are turning to meditation as a way to reduce stress, improve their mental and physical health, and find inner peace amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life. Meditative practices can be done sitting, lying down, or in motion, and its duration can vary, from a few minutes to several hours. While there are many different techniques and approaches to meditation, they all share a common goal: achieving a state of inner peace, relaxation, and releasing tension in the body. “Meditation nourishes our mind as food nourishes our body.” – Dalai Lama Benefits of meditation Stress Reduction: Meditation is known for helping to reduce stress levels. The meditative process decreases the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which can help with managing anxiety and tension. Better of Focus and Concentration: Regular meditation strengthens the ability to focus and maintain attention. Numerous studies indicate that meditation can enhance cognitive functions and increase a person’s ability to sustain attention for longer time. Better Emotional Health: Meditative practices can contribute to better emotional balance and mood enhancement. For example, specific techniques like mindfulness meditation help develop a more positive outlook on life and increase self-acceptance. Better physical health: Meditation can have a positive impact on physical health, including reducing blood pressure, improving sleep quality, and strengthening the immune system. It can also prevent one’s body from symptoms of chronic conditions such as headaches and migraines. Better Self-Awareness : Meditative practices fosters deeper self-awareness and awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This phenomenon can lead to better decision-making, personal growth, and increased overall life satisfaction. Here are some facts you might not have known: First Mention: The oldest written records of this ritual dates back to around 1500 BCE, originating from India. Brain Changes: Research indicates that regular meditation can alter the brain’s structure. For instance, meditation may increase grey matter in areas of the brain associated with memory, learning, and empathy. Cultural Differences: Meditation is practiced in various ways around the world. For example, in Tibet, it is often associated with visualisation and chanting, whereas in Japan, emphasis is placed on sitting in silence and breath practices. Impact on HIV: Studies have shown that meditative practices positively influence and slow the progression of HIV. People who meditate regularly are able to produce higher levels of lymphocytes, which are crucial for patients suffering from HIV. There is no one-size-fits-all manual: To experience the benefits of meditation, you don’t need to follow any specific guide. Meditative practice is meant to enrich you, and you should practice it in a way that grants you its beneficial effects. Feel free to change it into what suits you best. “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there—buried under the 50,000 thoughts an average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

10 Fascinating Facts About Diets

Dieting has been a popular practice for centuries, evolving with scientific advancements and cultural shifts. From ancient practices to modern trends, diets play a crucial role in health and lifestyle. Here are ten intriguing facts about diets: 1. Historical Roots: The concept of dieting dates back to ancient Greece. Hippocrates, often called the father of medicine, advocated for a balanced diet and exercise. He believed that food could be both a preventive measure and a treatment for various ilnesses. 2. The Mediterranean Diet: Inspired by the traditional eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. Studies have shown it reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, and it’s associated with long life expectancy. 3. Low-Carb Diets: Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet and the ketogenic diet, have been popular for weight loss. They focus on reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fats and proteins, leading to ketosis, a metabolic state that helps burn fat. 4. Veganism on the Rise: Veganism, the practice of leaving out all animal products, has grown significantly in popularity. Health benefits include lower risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Additionally, ethical and environmental concerns drive many people to adopt this lifestyle. 5. Intermittent Fasting: This dieting trend involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. Popular methods include the 16/8 method (16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of eating) and the 5:2 method (eating normally for five days, restricting calories for two). Research suggests it can help with weight loss and improve metabolic health. 6. The Paleo Diet: Also known as the caveman diet, the Paleo diet encourages eating foods which were available to humans during the Paleolithic era, such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It excludes processed foods, grains, and dairy. Supporters believe it leads to weight loss and better health, although its long-term effects are still debated. 7. Cultural Diets: Many traditional diets around the world are inherently healthy. For example, the Japanese diet, rich in fish, vegetables, and rice, is associated with lower rates of obesity and increased life expectancy. Similarly, the Nordic diet, which emphasises whole grains, fatty fish, and root vegetables, has gained recognition for its health benefits. 8. Dietary Guidelines: Many countries have established dietary guidelines to promote public health. For example, the USDA’s MyPlate and the UK’s Eatwell Guide provide visual representations of the recommended proportions of different food groups. These guidelines aim to help people make healthier food choices and prevent chronic diseases. 9. Psychological Impact: Dieting can significantly impact mental health. While some people experience improved self-esteem and body image, others may struggle with diet-related stress or eating disorders. It’s essential to approach dieting with a balanced mindset and seek professional advice when necessary.   10. The Future of Diets: Advances in technology and nutrition science are shaping the future of diets. Personalized nutrition, which tailors dietary recommendations based on an individual’s genetics and lifestyle, is becoming more accessible. This approach aims to optimize health outcomes and prevent diseases. Dieting is more than just a means to lose weight; it’s a complex exchange of nutrition, culture, psychology, and science. Understanding these diverse aspects can help individuals make rational decisions about their dietary choices and overall health. Find the one that suits your body and enhance your healthy lifestyle!  “Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food.”- Hippocrates The article was written in collaboration with Lea Kovalská.


Are you up for a holiday in Spain? You probably haven’t heard of these cities yet

Spain is a dream for many travelers who long for sunny beaches, rich cultural heritage, and tasty gastronomy. It boasts a diverse combination of history, sun-soaked weather, and attractive sights for every adventurer. Everyone’s heard of Madrid and Barcelona. These destinations are the most popular among tourists, with up to 20 million travelers visiting them annually. But if you want to avoid the crowds and mass tourism, we recommend exploring these Spanish cities that won’t disappoint even the most discerning tourist. Valencia- the city of innovation and gastronomy Valencia is the third largest city in Spain. Situated on the western coast, it offers its expansive beaches. Among the most famous are the Malvarrosa and El Saler beaches, perfect for relax and swimming. The city is easily accessible for tourists thanks to its international airport, which is only a 20-minute metro ride from the city center. Valencia can be proud of its modern design and young vibe, especially with its complex of cultural and architectural buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava. This includes the Oceanografic aquarium, the science museum, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía opera house, and the futuristic Hemisferic building. The city is home of the famous Spanish dish called Paella. Anyone visiting this place shouldn’t miss out on this fantastic dish, Paella Valenciana, and pair it with a drink called Horchata. It’s a refreshing beverage made from almonds, often served with sweet pastries. Alicante- the city that never sleeps If you’re looking for the perfect place for a vacation with a group of friends who know how to have a good time, Alicante will not disappoint you. This city is alive year-round, as it is home to around 33,000 students, which represents approximately one-tenth of all residents of Alicante. There are several universities and student districts here. The nightlife is vibrant, and you can find it on every corner. All of the streets are full of people until the early hours of the morning, and the fun never ends. The end of the clubbing is only when the crowd enjoys the sunrise on the famous beaches of Postiguet or San Juan. In addition to nightclubs, Alicante also offers genuine historical gems. The Santa Bárbara Castle towers over the city, adding to the atmosphere of every view. In terms of gastronomy, we must highlight the delicacy of turrón, a type of nougat, honey filled with dried fruits, which has some of its roots in this city. Alicante is also super accessible thanks to an international airport, just a half-hour away from the city center. Seville- the city of culture We’re moving on to Andalusia, specifically the city of Seville. If you enjoy exploring different cultures, Seville will surely capture your heart. Besides its convenient location, just 10 km from the airport, the city is full of stunning historical buildings such as the Seville Cathedral, Giralda (the former minaret), Alcázar (the royal palace in Mudéjar style), and the Plaza de España. In addition to its history, Seville is famous for its festivals. Don’t miss out on them, even outside the peak season, with celebrations like the April Fair or the Holy Week processions. The city is also the birthplace of Spanish flamenco. Whether you’re in the mood to dance it or just enjoy a performance, you won’t be disappointed. Granada- the city of history The most famous attraction in Granada is the Alhambra, a magnificent Arabic palace complex that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is so big that it takes three full days to explore it completely. It offers a glimpse into Arabic architectural elements. It’s necessary to purchase tickets several months in advance to visit. If you don’t manage to get a ticket, don’t worry. The Generalife Palace gardens are open to all and free of charge. The Albayzín neighbourhood is renowned for its narrow streets, white architecture, and atmosphere preserved from the medieval period. It’s a great place for a stroll and discovering mysterious corners. In Granada, you can taste traditional Spanish Arabic coffee, often served in local cafes along with some sweet treats. Don’t hesitate to try the fantastic tapas, which are loved by all Spaniards. The nearest airport is in Malaga, just 1.5 hours from the center of Granada. Santiago de Compostela- the city of pilgrims Santiago de Compostela is the destination of the famous pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, which attracts pilgrims from all over the world. The Cathedral of St. James, where the remains of the apostle James are said to be located, is the main attraction of the city. This impressive structure is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The old town of Santiago is full of narrow streets, stone buildings, and squares that maintain a medieval atmosphere. Significant places include Obradoiro Square, Hostal dos Reis Católicos (originally a hospital for pilgrims, now a luxury hotel), and various historic churches and monasteries. The Universidad de Santiago de Compostela is one of the oldest universities in Spain, founded in 1495. It has a significant influence on the city and its culture, bringing young people and academic activities. The airport is located directly in Santiago, just 12 km from the city center.


Fun facts about sports that you definitely didn’t know

Sports are much more than just rules, strategies, and tactics. It’s a realm filled with emotions, hard work, and discipline. Sports offer a sanctuary for both professional and recreational athletes. It’s a significant part of our lives, a way to relax, and a path to feel better. We’ve put together 10 fascinating facts about sports that even the most loyal sports fans might not know. 1. Tallest basketball player The tallest professional basketball player in history is Romanian Gheorghe Mureșan, who is 231 centimeters tall. He played in the NBA for the Washington Bullets and the New Jersey Nets. 2. Moon sports In 1971, Apollo 14 astronauts decided to engage in the first sporting activities in space, right on the moon. Alan Shepard hit golf balls, and Edgar Mitchell brought along a javelin, which he threw after landing on the moon. 3. Michael Phelps, god of medals American swimmer Michael Phelps added 5 Olympic medals to his collection during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Throughout his career, he won a total of 28 medals, including 23 golds. For comparison, 28 medals is the exact number that all Slovak Olympians have collectively won throughout the history of independent Slovakia. 4. Gold medals without gold? Despite their color, Olympic gold medals are not made entirely of gold. In fact, they contain only a small amount of gold—approximately 2%. The primary material used in their production is silver, which is more durable than gold. 5. Too much tennis! Would you believe that the longest tennis match in history lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes? This remarkable feat was achieved by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. Isner managed to win this incredibly tense match with a final score of 70-68. 6. The highest basketball court Dubai is a place full of surprises, and one of them is that it offers the highest basketball court in the world. You can find it in the Burj Al Arab at a height of 210 meters above the ground. Who wouldn’t feel like playing sports in one of the most modern skyscrapers in the world? 7. Fastest tennis serve Do you know what speed a tennis ball can reach after being hit? The shots of Australian tennis player Samuel Groth are undoubtedly the fastest. He proved it in 2012 when his serve broke the record for the fastest recorded serve, reaching a speed of up to 263 kilometers per hour. 8. The unique reason volleyball was created Who would want to chase after a ball just to hit it back over to the other side or in a different direction? This question crossed the mind of William Morgan, the man who invented volleyball. His vision was to create a sport where players wouldn’t have to run. The original version of volleyball was static, with players waiting for the ball instead of moving to chase it. 9. Even the USA are not 100% Would you believe that there’s a sport in which the USA has yet to succeed at the Olympics? Believe it or not, there are three! The United States has never converted its sporting efforts into Olympic medals in badminton, handball, or table tennis. 10. Throwback to our childhood in Thailand If you ever find yourself in Thailand and feel like competing, you can even choose a game with kites. In Thailand, it’s a recognized sport, with its own league. What a nice throwback to our childhoods! 🙂 “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi

Theory of creativity

Marketing expert Matej Valo: Creativity isn’t just random improvisation. It has its procedures

Why are we called creatures if we don’t create? Creativity has long been the driving force behind many technological innovations and progressive ideas. Thanks to creativity, we can achieve another significant thing: standing out from the crowd. Whether as an individual or a company. There are no limits to creativity. But what to do when we’re convinced we are simply not creative? Marketing expert Matej Valo argues that it can be learned. And indeed, everyone can discover it within themselves. What’s behind your brand Teória kreativity? (Theory of creativity) The Theory of Creativity is my platform through which I teach how to encourage creative thinking and engage in creative marketing. Whether through quality writing, creative techniques, AI, or brand building, my goal is to help you unleash your creative potential. The name is derived from my life experience, which has proven to me that creativity can be learned by anyone. It has its own rules, principles, techniques, and patterns that you can master and use to generate ideas. I’ve tested this theory on myself because I am not naturally a creative person. In school, I excelled at solving math problems but struggled with essays. I studied management and began working in an advertising agency as a project manager. CREATIVITY CAN BE LEARNED BY ANYONE. Eventually, however, I dived more into writing advertising texts. Initially, I was just an average copywriter. I threw myself into education with a desire to improve. Fortunately, I succeeded. I worked my way up to creative director, won several awards, and became a judge at competitions. After 10 years in an advertising agency, I decided that I wanted to pass on what I had learned. I have always been close to education. Educating myself. Now, I’ve expanded this to include others. This is why the Theory of Creativity was born. And why creativity? I guess it was probably more of a coincidence. I got a job at an advertising agency and had to write copy for websites. And that’s where I struggled. To boost my self-esteem, I always motivate myself to work on things until I become advanced and receive validation from others. This is a great trait in terms of motivation and self-development. However, it’s terrible if strive to have mental balance and a sense of satisfaction (laughter). I TEND TO GET EXCITED ABOUT SOMETHING I’M NOT GOOD AT. IT MOTIVATES ME TO IMPROVE.  What intrigued me about creativity and writing is that it’s not just about improvisation or talent; it has its own steps and processes. I noticed progress in myself when I mastered these. Creativity fascinates and entertains me also due to various scientific curiosities. For instance, creative people tend to live slightly longer or have a tendency to lie more. How do you convince your clients about their creativity? What if they are convinced that they are not creative at all? I either tell them my story or explain a few creative techniques on how to come up with ideas or write something specific (a blog title, a LinkedIn post, storytelling, etc.). They quickly realise, ‘Oh, it really can be done.’ When you know how to do it. I learned it myself through marketing books, dozens of copywriting blogs, but mainly by analysing other texts and campaigns. I tried to understand how those creatives from competing agencies write and come up with their ideas. Who would have thought that being an analytical type helped me a lot there. What I couldn’t find in professional literature, I was able to deduce to some extent on my own. But I always felt a bit sorry that I didn’t have a mentor in the agency from whom I could learn. It’s more efficient. In recent years, I have regularly paid for courses from renowned experts. SELF-EDUCATION IS FINE, BUT MENTORING AND COURSES ENABLE SIGNIFICANTLY FASTER PROGRESS What is copywriting? Although many people think so, it is not about writing any kind of texts. It is about writing texts aimed at sales or another action leading to a purchase (e.g., subscribing to a newsletter). It should not be confused with content marketing, whose primary goal is to create quality content and build a fan base. Although the lines between these two worlds are often very thin and frequently intersect. What is your opinion about artificial intelligence? If you create a lot of content all day long, it would be very inefficient not to use it. At least in the process of research, editing, or finding inspiration for topics. That’s why it is already a common part of the processes in professional advertising agencies. However, if you only write about 2-4 posts per week for social media, you can easily do without it. In many cases, it will even be more beneficial because some people might become lazy and leave everything to AI. In such cases, it is better not to use it at all. If you rely too much on artificial intelligence and let it write most of the texts, it harms their quality and later on also their engagement. People want to interact with other people on social media. They want to know their common values, opinions, experiences, they enjoy specific types of humor. And AI can’t do that well yet. Fortunately. It would be a shame if it could. However, we will see what the future brings. Do you think that artificial intelligence has the real potential to replace us? There are two basic perspectives on this issue. Either it will replace us, or it won’t and we will just use it to help us. I like a third perspective… We will label content created by humans—even if it is more expensive or less efficient and possibly worse over time. But for us humans, it will have a higher value because of the human touch, and we will be willing to pay extra for it. Just as many of us are now happy to pay extra for handmade products. So we will have content from both AI and HUMANMADE, and everyone will choose what they prefer. I personally would prefer if AI development stayed where it is now. It’s a nice compromise where AI just helps us out, like the internet or a smartphone. The creation is still primarily up to us and our own creativity. I hope it stays that way.

Martina Novotná Iniciative

Embassy of Cyprus in Slovakia reacts to the topic of equal roles for women in our society

Gender stereotypes affect societies everywhere, shaping how men and women are perceived and treated. In Slovakia, traditional views still influence roles at home and work, despite some progress. Men are often seen as providers, while women are expected to manage household duties. Unfortunately, women face various stereotypes such as gender discrimination, insufficient ensuring of equal opportunities for men and women, difficult roles of being mothers and so on. By examining these issues, we aim to highlight the progress made and the steps still needed to achieve true equality between men and women. We got the chance to discuss this topic with the Ambassador of the Cyprus Embassy in Slovakia, Paraskevi Tsaparidou, to explore strategies and progress in addressing these vital problems. Are there any typical stereotypes between genders in your home country? Have you encountered any visible differences in Slovakia? Gender stereotypes exist in all countries. Many times, they are so deeply rooted in society or in the collective subconscious, that we don’t even realize them. In Cyprus, although there is noticeable progress in recent years, we are still faced, for example, with stereotypes concerning feminine and male professions. Also, the role of women in the household is something that has changed very little over the years. In this sense, Cyprus, like Slovakia, is still very traditional, where the man is viewed and accepted as the provider, and the woman as the carer. In Slovakia, in the short time I have been here, I have noticed many women working, for example, as taxi drivers and in Public Transport, which is not so common in Cyprus. I am also struck by the fact that many women who belong to one, two or even three previous generations have a university education. The Turkish conflict Additionally, one aspect that is very different between the two countries, is the way the women of Cyprus were affected by the 1974 Turkish military invasion and the occupation of one third of the country since then. This trauma is still very visible in the collective memory of Cypriot women. The development of the society and the social norms, was also very linked with the needs created by the economic and social destruction of 1974. One third of the population was displaced and lost all their livelihood. This forced the displaced women to take additional roles in order to contribute to the family budget, while, at the same time, they assumed great responsibilities to rebuilding their family’s life in displacement. It was quite frequent that they would do this all alone, as their life partners were victims of war (killed, injured or went missing) or emigrated to support the quick economic recovery of their family and the country. Do you believe women can perform their jobs as professionally as men can? Of course! I firmly believe it! Women, as professionals, are perfectly capable to compete with their male colleagues on an absolutely equal footing, if they are given the same tools. Unfortunately, though, even today, in most societies, women are expected to take up more obligations than men within the household. They are expected to be full-time parent, carer of elders, cook, cleaner etc. All those responsibilities, and multiple-roles force them to compromise their professional ambitions, to enable their male partners – providers, to advance their own. It is exactly this stereotype that arms men with competitive professional advantage, as they are not forced to make any hard choice between family or career. What is a role of working mothers in our society? Why is it that they encounter a great deal of criticism at times When women entered the labor market, they did not abandon the other roles they traditionally held, that of mother, housewife, wife. The redistribution of work outside the home between the two sexes did not bring about the redistribution of responsibilities and tasks inside the home. The working mother is constantly asked to balance between alternating roles and obligations, to become a super woman. And she is called upon to be perfect in all these (conflicting) roles, often without the help or understanding of the state, husband or society, which judges very harshly. This pressure often leads to regrets, stress, exhaustion, anger, or feelings of inadequacy. BOTH PARENTS SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO TAKING CARE OF HOUSEHOLDS EQUALLY. What are the characteristic traits that working women have that men tend to lack in professional environment and vice versa? I don’t think there is much difference between men and women in the professional field. More depends on personality, character, type of work. Maybe women tend to show more empathy and be more conservative in decision-making, while men take more risks, but in general, I don’t believe in gendered traits. Each person has her or his qualities and weaknesses, both at personal and professional level. WOMEN TEND TO HAVE MORE EMPATHY, WHILE MEN TAKE MORE RISKS. What is the correct approach to addressing issues related to gender-based violence and discrimination, and what resources are available to support survivors? Cyprus became a member of the Council of Europe Convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence in 2017. In 2021 a new law “on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence” was passed. The law provides for the cooperation of many agencies and non-governmental organizations to support the victims. Strategies have been developed to protect victims from abusive behavior in the family and in the workplace. Penalties for perpetrators have been tightened. The road, of course, is still long and the efforts need to be continuous and coordinated by all services. Looking ahead, what priorities does your Embassy have in advancing gender equality and ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in Slovakia? The Embassy of Cyprus will be very happy to participate or offer its support to any initiatives of local NGO and associations, aiming at raising awareness and promoting all issues of gender equality and equal opportunities in Slovakia. Promoting gender equality in foreign policy is one of the priorities of the Government of Cyprus. In this regard, the Embassy will also try to promote cooperation and possible joint initiatives of the competent authorities of the two countries in the European Union the Council of Europe and the United Nations. We believe that through cooperation and empowerment we can achieve our common goals.

Lucia winning the World Championship

The world champion in footgolf is Slovak Lucia Čermáková: Women complement footgolf with their elegance

After the recent pandemic situation, Slovaks’ desire to be active and live a healthy life has increased. We have returned to activities that the unfavourable pandemic situation had taken from us. Team and individual sports, group training sessions, and exercising in fitness centres have become popular all again.  One of the new activities that has gained immense popularity in Slovakia, especially after previously mentioned pandemic, is footgolf. Have you heard of this sport? The game combines golf and football, where the player tries to get a football into large holes on a golf course. Slovak sportswoman, Lucia Čermáková, transformed her love for this sport into tremendous international success, becoming the world champion in footgolf. Her journey to the title is a combination of determination, hard work, and discipline. As one of the pioneers of footgolf in Slovakia, Lucia overcame numerous challenges and inspired future generations of athletes with her great success. How did you start with footgolf? I came across footgolf completely by chance. I was doing an interview as the captain of a football team with one of the journalists.  At the end, he asked me if I had heard of footgolf and whether I wanted to try it. It was just after the season, so I took the opportunity and later on  signed up for my first tournament. MY BIGGEST SPORT MOTIVATION HAVE ALWAYS BEEN MY PARENTS. Why footgolf? Is it a typical sport for women? This sport is for everyone, raging from children to men, and women to seniors. Women get to play an easier game at some challenging parts of the field, with features like shorter holes. I consider this a big plus since women don’t have as much leg strength as men. I fell in love with footgolf not only because it is an individual sport, whereas my whole life I was more focused on team sports, but also because I can see my own progress and push my limits. WOMEN COMPLEMENT FOOTGOLF WITH THEIR ELEGANCE.  When did you come to a realisation that you’d like to play this sport professionally? Such a turning point came about in my second year of playing. At that time, realized that footgolf began to fulfill me more than football. I made new friendships all over the world and had the opportunity to travel to new countries. I started collecting valuable international trophies, and as Slovak women, we have already “earned” respect among the other players. This was also one of the motivations. How did the journey to the World Championships unfold? I reached the World Championships after five years of training and countless tournaments played. Each tournament, whether Slovak or international, taught me incredible lessons, it made me stronger both physically and especially mentally. Obviously, I had to qualify for the World Championships, which wasn’t a problem because I was achieving top placements in Slovak tournaments. I also placed on the podium in international tournaments. We went to the World Championships with the goal of finishing in the top 5, as long as I could withstand the enormous pressure. Fortunately, my mental preparation helped me endure until the very end of the tournament. I KNOW I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO MAKES MISTAKES. THAT’S WHAT SPORTS ARE ABOUT. Do you have any fun or interesting experience from your career? Once, a raccoon stole cookies from our golf cart and ran off into the woods with them. I was also surprised when a teammate kicked the ball into a lake, and an alligator swam up, grabbed the ball, and swam away with it! 🙂 Is footgolf becoming popular nowadays?  Footgolf has become popular worldwide, and its popularity continues to grow. New clubs, courses, and competitions are emerging. Many people are starting to play it recreationally, outside of competitions. In Slovakia, new clubs have also been established, and we have two new courses, as well as several new competitions for both players and beginners. I hope that even more players, both men and women, will try out this sport, and I’m sure that they will love it. FOOTGOLF ISN’T JUST FOR PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS. YOU CAN TAKE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR LOVED ONES.