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04.04.2014, 13:02
From pram to profession
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FEATURE: 25-year-old Kinga Byzdra, who got her first touch with handball when she could barely walk, is nowadays seen as one of the most promising talents in Polish women's handball
 

From pram to profession

Some people believe in destiny, some in good genes and some in hard work which makes you achieve your goals. But who is right? Well, there is a woman that proves that success is actually the result of all three factors.

The 25-year-old Polish back court, Kinga Byzdra, who currently plays for Buducnost, is one of the most promising talents in Polish handball.

However, she had to go a long way to finally get to where she is now. She was training every single day, commuting to different towns and even attending sport sessions for boys when there was no female section.

No surprise. After all, she has handball in her blood as both parents played the sport on high level as well.

In a pram on the court

"My parents never urged me to play handball, but I know that when I was a baby I was spending a lot of time in the sports hall where my mother used to train," remembers Byzdra.

"The coach, Adam Pecold, and the manager, Diter Kubicki, were carrying me in a pram. I was running around and I didn’t care about anything!"

Byzdra’s real interest in handball came a little later, when her mother changed clubs and she was old enough to understand what the sport is about.

"I was present at every training session and at every match of my mum’s team, and this was the time when I decided to become a handball player, too."

Against all odds

Kinga Byzdra’s career started in Jarosław, a picturesque town in south-east Poland. She attended training sessions for girls three years older than her as there no group for her age. But this was nothing yet! When she moved to another city as her mother changed clubs again, she had to train with... boys!

"I was the only girl among boys! For sure it must have been a little shock for them. You know, those were the times when hormones ruled the mind, different things happened. Sometimes it was very funny!” she remembers with a smile.

But she always faced all obstacles in her way. “All the time I knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to achieve and I didn’t care about anything.”

"I had to commute to the school in Puławy as I lived in a small village 15 km far from the town. My classes started at seven o’clock in the morning and the buses were driving every single hour, so I had to wake up at five in order to catch the bus at six."

"I was coming back around five in the afternoon and for the weekends I was driving to the neighbouring city in order to train and play matches and I was coming back on Sunday evening so at home I was only a guest."

Character formed by sport

Soon she earned the rewards for her hard work, when she was at the age of 17 nominated for the Polish national team ahead of a match against Italy.

"It was a special day for me. I was very stressed! I didn’t expect I would receive a call-up, I owe this to the coach back then, Zenon Łakomy. I will never forget it. It is amazing to play with an eagle on your breast. I am very happy I can still perform for my country, it’s an honour for me!" says Byzdra.

She further underlines the importance that debut had for her: “It’s crucial for the development of a  young player when he is able to gain experience playing with older athletes, learn from them not only physical abilities but also controlling your mentality.”

"After all, I think that sport forms your character. It teaches you to manage with your life where sometimes you need to take a risk, just like in sport. Thanks to handball I am where I am."

Great success after six years of absence

The next step in her club career became the move to a former team of her mother, Zagłębie Lubin, with whom she won the national championship as well the Polish cup.

With the national team, however, the wait was much longer, until after six years of absence from major tournaments Poland qualified for the World Championship 2013 in Serbia.

And what comeback it became as the squad reached the semi-final and eventually finished fourth.

After defeating France 22:21 in the quarter-final Byzdra’s teammate Iwona Niedźwiedź said: Handball is a woman!

"This quote will go down in the history of Polish handball forever," Byzdra laughs. “Many people didn’t believe in us, but we knew our value and our strong points, we believed we could achieve a lot together.

"The most beautiful thing about sport is that everyone can win against everyone. Sometimes it’s about your form on the actual day, sometimes it’s about luck, but nobody is crossed out before the match starts."

Always upstream

Polish trips to the Balkan regions have happened very seldom recently. Most of times there is an opposite tendency what can be observed by the amount of Serbian, Slovenian and Croatian players in top Polish men’s clubs.

Kinga Byzdra, however, decided to fearlessly head south as she joined Buducnost in summer 2013.

"It wasn’t an easy decision; I had to discuss it with my fiancé. But you know, the telephone from Buducnost doesn’t ring every day. Podgorica is for me the Real Madrid of handball. It is an honour to be here."

With the club having advanced to the inaugural Women’s EHF FINAL4, she has an opportunity to be the next Polish woman winning the EHF Champions League, a success not being achieved since Agnieszka Matuszewska lifted the trophy with Krim ETA N. Roberts Ljubljana in 2003.

"It is my dream to win the Champions League, but I have both feet on the ground and I never praise the ford till I get over."

And what about the national team?

"The atmosphere in team is good what is our biggest advantage. The team is my second family, we all like to play together and feel comfortable in our company."


This is the sixth part of a new series powered by eurohandball.com and ehf-euro.com. In the weeks to come we will throw the spotlight on the many young female handball talents all around Europe that are likely to make an impact on the international stage in the months and years to come.

Part 1: Sweden's Maria Adler: "My time will come"

Part 2: Austria's Sonja Frey: A pair of coaching brothers paved her way to handball

Part 3: Shenia Minevskaja: Handball in her genes

Part 4: Koumba Cissé jumping into the spotlight

Part 5: Aniko Kovacsics: Step by step towards her dreams


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / ts
 
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