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29.07.2013, 11:30
The rising stars of the Women's 19 EHF EURO: Mélissa Agathe
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From Réunion to France and now leading her nation to Denmark
 

The rising stars of the Women's 19 EHF EURO: Mélissa Agathe

There have been a number of French handball stars who have moved from a French overseas territory to the mainland and made it all the way to the top. For example, Daniel Narcisse and Didier Dinart among the men, while Katty Piéjos and Leila Lejeune stand out on the women’s side.

Mélissa Agathe was born in Réunion and is one of the biggest handball hopes in France.

However, that was far from her mind at the beginning, when she just wanted to play handball like her sister did.

"I started playing handball when I was six. Step by step, I played for my island's team, then for the squad representing all of the French overseas territories.

Leaving home

“In 2011, I left Réunion for France and I entered a high-level handball school,” Agathe told eurohandball.com.

After starting her career at a small club, AJRD, she signed with Saint Pierre HB, one of the best teams on the island.

"At the age of 16, I was already playing in the first senior league. I knew that if I really wanted handball to be my job, I had to go to France to make that step," explained the 19-year-old.

"She reached the maximum capacity she could have had in La Réunion. If she stayed for one year more, she would have lost time. She took the best decision,” Mohammed Aliamani, her coach in Saint-Pierre, told regional newspaper Clicanoo.

In France, Pierre Mangin chose her for the first time to play with the under-17 French national team.

"I played the European Championship in 2011 and the World Championship in 2012 with him. Now, my head coach is Eric Baradat and I’m going to Denmark this summer. Things are going so fast," said the Fleury Loiret player.

Influential figures

Pierre Mangin is also the coach with whom she has her best memories.

"The Mediterranean Games in 2011 were amazing. We reached the third position and it was my first medal with the team France. It happened also with the first coach who gave me my chance in France and it was in Italy, a beautiful country.

“Michel Etienne was the first coach who really supported me to continue playing handball. I will never forget him,” said Agathe.

Last season, Agathe had the chance to play her first games in her club with the first team.

"I didn't realise at the beginning that I was playing with stars like Marta Mangue or Ionela Stanca. However, these girls were the one who always supported me and I felt more self-confident,” said the left back.

She heads to the Women’s 19 EHF EURO without any kind of pressure.

"We don't have targets for this competition. We will try to play our best and that is it. Actually, we didn't have a lot of chances to play together. We are going to Denmark relaxed,” says the Réunion native, who refuses to get too far ahead of herself when it comes to reaching the highest level.

"The French senior team? I don't want to think about it. I first have to play well with the U19 team and we will see how things go. Playing with this team is my dream," admits Agathe in conclusion.


TEXT: Clément Domas / cor
 
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