This year, Karađorđe stadium celebrates a century of existence, and on that occasion Jelena Kulpinski, the director of the stadium reflected on the previous and upcoming challenges necessary for the improvement of infrastructure and organization at the largest stadium in Novi Sad.

Last year, Jelena Kulpinski took over the function of director of the Karađorđe stadium, and in this interview she describes all the challenges and experiences that come with this job. She announced the works on the stadium’s reconstruction that is expected during 2024, and after which she hopes Karađorđe will finally receive the golden sheen it deserves.

Jelena, as we know, you are the first female stadium director in Serbia. Does this piece of information put pressure on you, and what challenges are you facing with regards to performing this function?

  • The challenge is big, as well as the expectations, especially because it is perceived as a man’s job, and I think that in the beginning it was a bit strange and unexpected to the people who gather around the Club. However, I have to highlight that I received a warm welcome from everyone, fans, management, and employees. So far, I haven’t had a single negative experience. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Club’s president for the trust he has given me, it feels great to be a female director of the stadium, and I hope that in the future, more women will take on this function.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges that you face when it comes to managing and leading the Karađorđe stadium?

  • The main challenge is definitely the infrastructure itself. With all its reconstructions, the stadium is almost a century old, which is, you have to admit, a very long period of time. Besides, the technology of the important components such as the floodlights and the scoreboard, is outdated. On the other hand, the security is another crucial element, especially when it comes to the organization of the matches. Each time when you a large number of people, including children, are present, that is the highest priority. I am truly pleased with the organization of all the matches organized since I took over this function, and we will definitely strive towards even better results. The real challenge will be organizing European matches, that is our goal, and that is where Vojvodina Football Club belongs.

Talking about the reconstruction of the stadium, a new pitch, i.e. installation of the new grass is definitely the most important topic. Could you please tell us what are the expectations regarding the pitch arrangement?

  • What I can tell you at this point is that Vojvodina FC has fulfilled all the necessary requirements requested by the City of Novi Sad as far as the reconstruction goes, and we expect the reconstruction to begin soon. The new, hybrid grass is the imperative if we want to play European matches, and according to my knowledge, we are waiting for the suitable moment regarding the weather conditions and the competitive part of the season in order to begin working on the pitch itself. I would like to pinpoint that the reconstruction of the Western stand, and the installation of the new grass can be done simultaneously, if the opportunity presents itself.

Aside from being the location for championship matches of the Football Club, Karađorđe stadium is also the home of the Vojvodina AC, and quite often a place where youth selections of the national team, as well as the international clubs hold their training sessions.

In that sense, what is your experience so far, and how would you evaluate the previous cooperation with the clubs that held training sessions at the stadium?

  • Since the moment I arrived, I have excellent cooperation with the Athletic Club Vojvodina, they always respected all our pleas and requests. In the last three months, we welcomed some big names of the European football at Karađorđe, such as West Ham and Freiburg, as well as the youth selection of the Serbian national team (U-21). The cooperation was great, a few people from Freiburg complimented us personally on the hospitality and the support during the training organization, so those were all nice experiences and interactions. We also have an excellent cooperation with the Football Association of Serbia. There was a little anecdote before the training session of West Ham. Namely, one employee in charge of the safety of their team and staff told us that we shouldn’t feel insulted if their team decided to leave the stadium upon the arrival, because the head coach generally doesn’t like other people to watch the training sessions. What happened was that they saw the people standing on the roof of the Promenada Shopping Mall, and those are the situations that you can hardly control when your stadium is in the city center. Eventually, the training was held without any unwanted advances.


In your opinion, how important is the exchange of experiences and know-how between stadium directors in Serbia, but also abroad, when it comes to overcoming the challenges?

  • Very important, I had that luck to exchange experiences with other people very quickly after taking over the function, and I received support from the people who manage serious stadiums and sports facilities in Serbia, and I would like to thank them for their help. In our country, it is still a taboo to ask for help, because there is fear that someone will perceive you as not competent enough. However, that is an entirely wrong approach. The more experiences you exchange, both positive and negative, it will always lead to a betterment. Creating good relations with people from the same area of expertise is also a very important segment. The goal for the future is definitely the exchange of experiences with the management of other stadiums from the region and abroad, and implementing good practical examples, so that we can constantly work on improving infrastructural elements, as well as the organizational and service-oriented.


This year, Karađorđe stadium celebrates its 100th birthday on Vidovdan. What would you wish for the stadium in the year of jubilee?

  • I would certainly wish for a quality makeover, and a golden sheen that it deserves. There is a lot of history written on those stands, and it would be nice if it is all saved and displayed in an official museum, that would represent a symbol of the past times, and the opportunity for all generations, especially the younger ones, to learn something new, and to pay respect to all the legends who played their matches at the Karađorđe stadium, and in Vojvodina FC.