Brian Jokat

You have to totally surrender to Sarajevo

Brian Jokat is a Canadian who played for the Bosna Hockey Club from Sarajevo in 1985. 30+ years later, and he's back, coaching the BiH national hockey team. He has been living and working here since November 2017.


In the mid-80s he was the best striker in former Yugoslavia's hockey league and, after jobs in Canada, Germany and Great Britain and an NHL career, he is now preparing BiH's national team for Hockey World Cup (III division) qualification matches.

- After I left Sarajevo in 1986, I made occasional visits. The last time was in 2010, when I said that I was open to leading this team at the right moment, so I was glad to hear from the BiH Hockey Federation.

He says he believes in his young hockey team; they show a lot of respect and want to bring back a “flair” to BiH hockey.

- Sport is the foundation for building a future because it develops team spirit, fair relations and humane behavior. A real athlete will always be caring, a good leader and a good man.

He enjoyed being in Sarajevo after the WOG, when sports halls saw capacity crowds, and now he's looking forward to the 2019 EWOF, even though there is much to be done before such an important event.

- Bosnians have incredible energy and spirit; it just needs to be channeled in the right way, and you won’t be disappointed.

He often goes skiing on Bjelašnica and Jahorina and, since he has never spent a summer here, he hopes to do some of this year’s sporting events, like the Sarajevo half marathon, Jahorina Ultra Trail….

He recalls how difficult it was to get used to our language, food and culture.

- I was shocked when I would go into a restaurant and find a menu in Cyrillic. I didn’t understand anything, so I would go into the kitchen to peek into the pans to see what was cooking. I liked ćevapi, and I still eat them at Specijal.

Vučko and Jazzbina

Brian likes to go for a beer at Vučko, listen to good live music at Jazzbina and he is keen to visit Zlatna Ribica and Peoples; Pivnica Sarajevo, Druga Kuća and Rive Gauche. He works out at Avalon, takes in a view at Avaz Twist Tower, goes for morning walks in Baščaršija and gives friends plum brandy, knitted handicrafts and coffee grinders as gifts from Sarajevo.

He says he has always been warmly welcomed by Sarajevans, both 30 years ago and now.

- Before, I was only into sports, but now I’m delving deeper into history, the people and the city.

He was touched by the film, Scream For Me Sarajevo, and is glad Ademir Kenović plans to direct a film about BiH hockey.

He invites those who want to experience something culturally different from other European cities.

- On this planet, there are just a few special places like Sarajevo, where you have to open your mind and surrender totally. Snobs will never feel the multiculturalism, originality, laid-back attitude or the fiery Bosnian spirit.