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19.08.2016, 13:34
Balić: "These talented kids have to continue working hard"
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INTERVIEW: Croatian handball great Ivano Balić has taken on his role as youth coordinator for the Croatian Handball Federation and he is following as many matches as possible at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2016
 

Balić: “These talented kids have to continue working hard”

Ivano Balić is a true legend of handball. Many fans all over the world wanted him to prolong his playing career for as long as possible. Unfortunately for, it was about a year ago that Balić decided to call it a day.

Fortunately for the Croatian Handball Federation though, he always stayed close to the sport and has taken over the task as youth coordinator. In this role he monitors the development of young Croatians who are set to be future of the nation’s handball teams.

At the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2016 in Croatia he travels between Zagreb and Koprivnica, the two hosting cities, to check what European nations on the under 18 level have to offer.

eurohandball.com: Ivano, after ending your career you became the coordinator for young handball players in Croatia. How do like your new job?
Ivano Balić: It is not the same excitement like when you are playing handball, but the good thing is that I’m close to the sport. It’s very interesting to watch young players and see if there are talented players, if they have potential. There are many interesting parts in this job, so for now it’s really good and I like it.

eurohandball.com:  You have been to every boys, youth and junior Croatian championship. What have you seen and how does the future of Croatian handball look like?
Ivano Balić: There are many very interesting players. Tall, fast, short, good goalkeepers; there are many good boys. That means we are still talented, but the kids need to understand, they need to work a lot to succeed, to reach top-class player status. It doesn’t matter how good they are in their generation, they need to work a lot to become real players.

eurohandball.com: How do you rate the latest results of Croatia’s under 20 national team at the EHF EURO in Denmark and this under 18 team competing now?
Ivano Balić: The under 20 national team had great tournament in Denmark and I’m very pleased with what they did. They played really good, and in my opinion did everything right. In the end they came fourth which for me is a good result. The younger players are also doing great. They have been playing better and better in each match and now they reached the semi-final.

eurohandball.com: How do you like the Men’s 18 EHF EURO in Croatia? There are many good players that seem very powerful and they are only 18 years old or even younger.
Ivano Balić: This is a very good tournament. I watched almost every team that is playing here. There are many really interesting teams to watch.  I got the impression that you can easily see that these young teams have same style of play as their senior counterparts. Or at least they are close to what senior selections play. That is good because each national team has its own identity. Of course, there are many interesting players and there is definitely something to see at this EURO.

eurohandball.com: How important are these youth championships for the development of young players and how does it help them to make the transition to the senior team?
Ivano Balić: Championships like this are very important. You need to be among the best in your generation, they need to play many matches when they are young. Progress can only be achieved by playing a lot of matches. For every national team that qualifies for championships, this is a good way to rise and become better and better.

eurohandball.com: Who has impressed you the most? Who do you think has a chance for the big win here at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2016?
Ivano Balić: Croatia are playing really good and the Germans are as well. I like them best so far. They play great, really fast with a good goalkeeper and an aggressive defence. Croatia and Germany stand out, I would say. Spain are always technically strong, but they lack physicality. On the other hand, France are physically strong but they lack technique. I also like the Slovenians; they showed they can compete with the best.

Photos: HRS


TEXT: Jelena Bagaric / ts
 
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