He was reliving the best days of his life, she experienced one of her worst nightmares on the pitch. However, by the end of the Football Friends tournament in Foca, big brother and little sister were laughing their way home.

Veselko Njegus was back at the place where his dreams came true. At last year's Football Friends tournament, the Sutjeska teenager's performances earned critical acclaim. As one of the best two players at Foca 2006, he was selected to form part of a Balkan team competing at the 'streetfootballworld festival 06' in Berlin.

"It was the best thing," says Veselko, now 19, who spent 17 days in the German city. "We slept in a school that was turned into a small hotel in one of the poorest parts of Berlin, Kreuzberg, but even that is better than most places in Bosnia.

"We made friends with everyone but spent most time with Argentinians, South Africans and Norwegians as they were the most sociable. The South Africans were cool - they played matches with music and drums and had their own style. To be honest, almost every moment was funny though," smiles Veselko, who after speaking English and Spanish in Germany is determined to keep up his language skills in order to keep in touch with his new-found friends.

"We told each other about our own countries, our cultures and what we did for fun. Of course we held some parties, went to discos and played football in front of famous buildings. It was the third dimension of the game, to make friends. We even got the chance to play with Bobby Charlton and Boris Becker."

On the pitch, Veselko and Co. gave as good as they got, finishing fifth in the 22-team competition played days before the FIFA World Cup™ final.

"We watched the final on a giant screen," adds the teenager who despite playing in a club admits to preferring street football now. "Berlin was a great experience, just having fun and meeting friends."

Sister act
Vesna Njegus meanwhile had been at the heart of things in the inaugural 12-team street football tournament in Foca, bringing together teams from Serbia, Macedonia, Sarajevo and the region around Foca, Trebinje, Gorazde and Visegrad. Mixing audacious skill with a steely determination her brother would have been proud of, Vesna propelled the local side, Sutjeska, to the final of the two-a-side, mixed sex competition against Sarajevo rivals OFFS.

Stirred by the booming background music and cheered on by hundreds surrounding the portable plastic boundary boards fitted together like Lego bricks, the 14-year-old was in rampant form as the Foca side stole an early. With players going on and off in the four-to-five strong teams, the speed of play was relentless as the action switched from end-to-end with excited spectators turning heads as if watching a table football game.

OFFS were determined to spoil the party though. They fought back tenaciously and roared into a lead and ultimately victory 12-10 in the 10-minute-a-half final. Exhausted, Vesna could not contain her grief and wept openly before being comforted by her teacher.

"I was crying because we were in the lead the whole game and then we lost," she says matter-of-factly the following day, now smiling. "We were all very upset but the others didn't want to cry in front of everyone. Later we all cried together. At the time, our teacher said it's the taking part that counts more than winning."

Her brother may have won the ticket to the FIFA World Cup but Vesna is already quite a celebrity in Foca, kicking the ball up against the wall of her flat long after dark.

"I started when I was a small child when my brother took me to play. I play all day after school, mostly with the boys because not many girls play around my area. The boys at school encourage me as I'm one of the best in the class and they want to beat the other forms."

Despite the loss, Vesna says she will never forget the Football Friends festival in Foca.

"I think I was so emotional because I was excited. I wanted to make everybody here proud but I will never forget this weekend," says the teenager whose idol is Ronaldinho. "I've made quite a few friends here - one good one with a girl from Macedonia. We usually talk about football and about our favourite players."

The girl's unrestrained tears may not have gone unnoticed but it was her composure on the ball that caught the eye of more than the watching Premier League observer. With the tear stains still on her cheeks after the award ceremony, Vesna was approached by a coach and asked if she would like to join the women's side of Leotar Trebinje, the team she had helped Sutjeska defeat 18-12 in the semi-finals.

"It's so exciting," she beamed, breaking into the broadest of grins. "I've never even seen a women's football match before. I hope I will be able to travel there."

With brother Veselko giving Vesna a helping hand, one way or another the name Njegus could become known well beyond Foca's borders.