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08.07.2014, 12:48
Ilina made her dreams come true
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FEATURE: As young player Russian Ekaterina Ilina watched her favourite players on video tapes, but it did not take long for the playmaker to join them on the court
 

Ilina made her dreams come true

Despite the fact that the success rate of four-time world champions Russia has plummeted a bit recently, the nation still continues to produce some great handball talents.

One of the most shining these days is arguably 23-year-old Ekaterina Ilina who plays club handball for Lada from Togliatti in south-west Russia.

In the past season the playmaker’s 41 goals helped her team to win the Women’s EHF Cup (36:25, 32:32 in the final against Team Esbjerg) and with the Russian national team Ilina qualified for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014, scoring 16 times in Russia’s qualification campaign.

Ilina started playing handball at the age of eight in a handball school in Togliatti. Very early on she was amazed by game and the sport since then has surely made his mark in her life.

"When I was a little girl I was watching how handball players were running and throwing the ball. This fascinated me, and perhaps these were the moments when I started loving handball and this has been lasting my entire life," Ilina recalls.

"I was in second class in elementary school when I and my friends were invited to handball training. From this moment I started going regularly and never missed a session."

It was her first coach Sergey Voevoda who back then accompanied her for the very first steps of becoming a professional handball player.

"After the arrival of Voevoda our situation changed. We began to understand the tactical moments of the game and the coach devoted a lot of time to improve our handball skills.

"I was watching taped matches at home, revising them as I wanted to learn more and more. I must say that I adored watching the Russian championship matches of Lada which was led by the legendary Evgeny Trefilov.

This team had so many stars in its ranks and I secretly wanted one day to play with these handball players."

Fast progress

Ilina didn’t have to wait long time for her dreams to become true. She made fast progress from the third team of Lada to the second team and finally in the season 2009/10 she donned the first team’s jersey.

"Looking back at my childhood dreams I achieved a lot, especially with the Russian youth and junior team as we won the Youth World Championship in 2008, took bronze at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2009 and silver at the Junior World Championship in 2010.

"I’m infinitely glad and grateful to all those who participated in these achievements, but there is still left plenty of work ahead of us."

Biggest club success

Shortly after having celebrated her debut with Lada’s team, she transferred to Kuban Krasnodar, a city in Russia’s south close the Black Sea.

In 2013 her contract ended and she decided to move back to Lada and play for Lada again. In her first season she straight away won the Women’s EHF Cup and came second in the domestic championship.

"I had offers to play abroad, but even though I like to play fast handball which the top clubs in the world currently are playing, at the moment I'm much comfortable playing in Russian clubs. I think we should move in the same direction because handball is a game which develops and accelerates."

With the new season and the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in December looming, the Russian international is optimistic about the team’s current shape and its expectations.

"At this point the national team is looking like a good team and the players understand each other which is very important.

"I expect a good result from my team at the European Championship at the end of this year and we will all strive for this and of course fight for medals.

"I have many goals that I want to achieve in handball and I will do my very best because handball is my life. I love handball, and I really enjoy playing this game."


This is the ninth part of a series powered by eurohandball.com and ehf-euro.com throwing 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

Part 6: Kinga Byzdra: From pram to profession

Part 7: Veronica Kristiansen: I want to be a key player

Part 8: Mariana Rebicova: I want to be a role model one day


TEXT: Amina Idrizi / ts
 
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