Love at first sight for Katrin Klujber
Since joining FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria in 2019, Katrin Klujber’s rise in handball circles has been rapid.
The right back has earned plenty of plaudits for her performances, including two EHF Player of the Month awards, and was recently rewarded for her good form with a contract extension until 2024.
Klujber is the latest up-and-coming player featured in a series of 'Rising Stars’ by DAZN and eurohandball.com.
21-year-old Klujber speaks to eurohandball.com at the beginning of a season-defining month for club and country.
eurohandball.com: How did you get familiar with handball?
Katrin Klujber: As a child, I had plenty of energy. The energy that still drives me on the court. First, my family brought me to folk-dancing in kindergarten. My mom took me to my cousin’s handball practice for children with sponge balls and it was love at first sight, playing with others meant a lot to me. For a short period, I danced and played handball at the same time but as I practiced more, the coach saw something special in me and told my parents that I should play handball more seriously.
eurohandball.com: Why did you choose to be handball player?
Katrin Klujber: I liked its quickness and intensity, playing in a team, practicing every day and that I was more tired compared to dancing. On top of that, I got a lot of positive feedback when I was 8 or 9 years old.
eurohandball.com: Who helped you on the handball path?
Katrin Klujber: Józsefné Takács was my first coach. She was great, although sometimes we felt that she is a little bit too strict, but years later I realised that this helped me a lot. At the same time, she was helpful and empathic. She became my maths teacher in the second half of primary school and we became very close in the five or six years I played under her.
eurohandball.com: Playing a sport does not mean that you will automatically become a professional. What drove you to be one?
Katrin Klujber: There were games during my development where I showed my best, when I performed absolutely at the peak and the experts told me and my family that I was talented. New coaches confirmed this theory. I was only 15 years old when I practiced with the “big” squad and at the age of 16, I had my debut for Dunaújváros. By that time, I did not think about my future as anything else besides being a handball player as the sport meant my whole life to me. I remember, back in kindergarten, I wanted to be a hairdresser but since handball came into my life, I knew the answer: I want to be the best handball player ever.
eurohandball.com: Among your coaches, who did you learn the most from?
Katrin Klujber: That is a complex question, but my coach in the youth team, Rita Meggyes, who is left-handed just like me, helped a lot, she taught me many basics as a left-handed player. Gábor Elek, head coach of FTC, is also left-handed and this benefits me a lot in preparation and in learning the game. In every age group, I learned a lot from my coaches and I am very grateful.
eurohandball.com: What was the most important lesson you learned by yourself?
Katrin Klujber: To be concentrated all the time and to prepare for each match. To learn how to concentrate for a whole bout is not easy. You need to ready all the time for whatever comes towards you. In Ferencváros, we play against the best, so I had to find the rhythm, learn to stay cool and take the best decisions. This comes with experience and age but you can also train yourself.
eurohandball.com: March is going to be crucial for you with the play-offs in the DELO EHF Champions League and Olympic qualifiers. To be successful during that period, what will be the key for you?
Katrin Klujber: I have to pay attention to my efficiency in attack. The pressure is bigger, as are the expectations. Scoring many goals from as few shots as possible, to play quicker and with good-timing, that is my role on that side of the court. In defence, I have to be more aggressive.
eurohandball.com: You are not among the tallest players in your position. How do you turn your height into an advantage?
Katrin Klujber: I believe in myself, that is the most important thing, everything else comes after that. In a one versus one situation, I use my skillset and quick footwork to beat the opponent defender, which happens many times, thankfully. Obviously, the height of the defensive wall creates problems sometimes but it only means to me that I need a workaround and find new ways to score.
eurohandball.com: Is there a particular player’s style of play you adore the most?
Katrin Klujber: My physical details are similar to Nora Mork’s. Her hand and sense for handball are excellent, I always enjoy watching her play. Bojana Radulovic, former World Handball Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003, taught me a lot. Her way of never giving up sparked me, not to mention her scoring abilities. I am lucky enough that she saw me at practices and games and gave me a lot of great advice.
eurohandball.com: What is the next level in your own development?
Katrin Klujber: I want to be faster and to learn to be unpredictable. I also need to be powerful, stronger thus the opponent could not stop me easily. My awareness and skillset can be improved as well.
eurohandball.com: What is your biggest goal in your career?
Katrin Klujber: To play in the EHF FINAL4 with my team, this is our shared dream. We have every chance to be there, we only need to give our best. On the other hand, to play at the Olympic Games would mean something that I have never dreamt of because it seemed too far. However, everything will be decided this month.