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Community center grows out of soccer program

Community center grows out of soccer program
Muharem Dedic has led an effort to open a Bosnian culture community center in Rochester.

Soccer has been the main uniting factor for Rochester's Bosnian population for the past decade as families cheer on their fellow nationals on an all-Bosnian city soccer team.

After the games, the players and fans of United BiH, named for the national soccer team Bosnia- Herzegovina, would gather to socialize and barbecue. That gave Muharem Dedic the idea to open a community center where Bosnians could gather and maintain their culture outside of the soccer season.

"In Bosnia we used to be like a family," he said. "Now that we're here, everyone is busy working and with their families or two jobs."

After a soccer game last summer, Dedic had a meeting in his garage and found that many others supported the idea of a formal gathering space. The idea became reality in December with the opening of the United BiH community center in northwest Rochester.

"This is a dream come true," Dedic said. "To have something for the Bosnian community."


The timing is also right to help preserve the Bosnian heritage and language among the children who've been born in the United States, said Armin Budimlic, associate director at the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association. Budimlic is Bosnian, but isn't an active member of the community center. He estimates that approximately 1,000 Bosnians live in Rochester.

So far, 65 families have joined the center and pay a $20 monthly fee to keep it going as well as volunteer with activities, Dedic said.

The center is run by a three-member board; Dedic as president. There are also four women in charge of traditional dance lessons held three times a week and a woman who used to be a teacher in Bosnia who runs classes for children on the Bosnian language, songs and culture.

The community center also helps organize the adult soccer team and is working on youth soccer teams for boys and girls, he said. They also organize outings like an upcoming trip to the Mall of America and a May Day picnic to celebrate the European holiday.

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