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21.07.2017, 10:47
Thoughtful Deba leads France at Women's 19 EHF EURO
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RISING STARS: Dividing her time between handball and studying, France right wing Melvine Deba is eager to shine at the final tournament in Slovenia
 

Thoughtful Deba leads France at Women's 19 EHF EURO

Combining a professional handball career with studying political science doesn’t sound too easy, but 19-year-old Melvine Deba of France is doing just that.

The right wing will join 15 other promising French talents when Les Blues compete in the Women’s 19 EHF EURO in Slovenia from 27 July to 6 August.

‘I didn’t want to find myself empty-handed at 35’

Now on her way to becoming a successful handball player, Deba used to excel in another sport as well.

“When I was younger I played both handball and basketball, but at some point I had to make a choice,” says Deba, and adds with a laugh: “And being only 1.65 metre tall, I didn’t have much chance to play basketball at a very good level.”

The fact that Deba chose handball doesn’t mean she is solely focussing on that sport. Explaining why it is important to keep going with her education as well, she says: “I know that a handball career is pretty short and I didn’t want to find myself empty-handed by the time I will be 35.”

Already mature in her reflection on her life course, it seems she is mature too when she’s on court.

“She’s very curious about everything, both on and off the handball court. Keeping up with the studies helps her keeping her mind open,” the coach of the French national under-19 team, Eric Baradat, says. “Melvine is a very rich person and someone I really like working with.”

‘You have to be an actor in your own career’

At 19, Deba stepped into the spotlight this season with her club, Issy-Paris Hand. With the first-choice right wing out injured, her coach trusted her despite her lack of experience. And it worked out well for Deba, who proved to be up to the task almost immediately.

“She has had a time frame to show what she was able to do, and it was a success,” Baradat says. “When you are that young, playing is very important but playing at a high level is even more so. I already knew she had those abilities so it hasn’t changed anything but I think she gained more self-confidence this season.”

Deba says she learnt a lot during the last 10 months.

“Especially that you can’t rely on your abilities, no matter how good they are. You can have all the talent in the world, it won’t replace everyday work,” she says, adding some words that might sound like her mantra: “You have to be an actor in your own career, you can’t just watch it pass you by.”

Looking up to Guigou and Mørk

And when you ask Deba which players she looks up to, no wonder she comes up with two names known for their working abilities.

“Michaël Guigou, because he is not the most spectacular of players but he has always played in a constant manner. Never a bad game, rarely the guy you remember but always reliable. And in women’s handball I'd say Nora Mørk, because she is only three centimetres taller than me but she’s a back court player. That shows you can achieve anything if you work hard.”

And for things to achieve and goals to reach, what can France do at the Women's 19 EHF EURO?

“We are focusing more on performances than on results. We can beat anyone when we are at our best but we won't win a medal just because we said that we were aiming for one,” Deba says, well aware that France’s opponents in the preliminary round – Serbia, Germany and Spain – will have exactly the same kind of goals.

Photos: Laury Rousseau


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ew / ts
 
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