When you first see Poki, you are not 100 percent sure what he actually represents. Is he an animal, or is he just a big cuddly creature? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but one thing is for sure; he looks big and strong, but also friendly and cool!
Poki first appeared at the beginning of the 2014/2015 season. Celje’s intention with launching a new mascot was pretty obvious. They wanted to bring the club closer to the young fans, especially children. That is why the mascot isn’t too athletic, but rather big, friendly and cuddly. The idea of Poki is closely related with the characteristic of the handball club Celje Pivovarna Lasko. They play in ‘Zlatorog Arena’ (Zlatorog means Goldhorn, a trademark of their main beer sponsor) and therefore wanted the mascot to have characteristics of a Goldhorn. Goldhorn is a mythological creature that looks like a Capricorn, but has gold horns and has been developed upon a myth. Capricorns live in groups, they’re strong and are everything a club wants a mascot to represent. That was the exact reason why Celje had an easy time choosing their mascot a few years ago. No other ideas would be more appropriate.
The story of how Poki got his name is quite interesting. Celje had released their mascot without an official name, so they need some help from the fans. The fans submitted their proposals, then the club chose the top 3 suggestions. Fans were again encouraged to participate by voting for their favorite name. Again, it wasn’t a hard choice, since Poki is a dialect name for a Capricorn. Poki is also a short and funny name, which again brings the mascot closer to the children.
Interaction with children is one of Poki’s favorite activities during the match. Sometimes when he goes to the stands to take pictures and enjoy the match with the youngest fans, the children don’t let him leave. They absolutely love spending time with him, but wants to meet as many kids as he can. He is also always there to support the squad, and is the first person to step on the court during pre-match player presentation. Poki behaves like every fan should, he loves his club, but has a great deal of respect towards the opponents and referees.
Apart from cheering Celje PL on and having fun with fans during matches, Poki also tries hard to entertain everyone in the Arena. He is even trying his best and sometimes dances with the cheerleaders. It’s all about having fun and making everyone happy. Poki also wants to make the atmosphere as good as he can, so everyone goes home with a nice memory of the game.
How exactly does he do it? He doesn’t speak at all. Poki never ever speaks, but uses gestures to communicate with everyone. He became so good at it, that he rarely makes a mistake when trying to interact with people. He is approachable, fans can always take pictures with him, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s before the match, at half-time or after the match. Poki loves to be in photos. Even though it sounds fun, Poki’s life isn’t just about having fun. He takes dance classes, trains a lot and analyses every opponent before Celje’s next match. But it’s all for a good cause!
Poki is big, brown and friendly, but his appearance also has a deeper meaning. At the same time he represents power, unity and strength, but in a friendly way. He’s a team player, passionate about his team and cares about the youth community surrounding his club. Poki also represents all the important sporting values including respect, fair play and inclusivity. Simply put, you just have to love Poki!