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Friday, April 8th 2005, 8:11pm

bojana popovic speaks


Interview with Bojana Popovic and has had the opportunity to interview one of the very best female handballers right now, Bojana Popovic. We asked her about how she started playing handball, about her ambitions for the future and if she’ll return to the national team of Serbia & Montenegro at the World Championship in Russia.

Europamester: At what age did you start playing handball?

-I started playing when I was 11 years old. My big sister played handball so it wasn’t by random chance. Back then I wanted to copy everything she did. Earlier I did some athletics and some other kinds of sport in my spare time.

Europamester: How were your prospects as a young player?

-Right from the beginning I was being announced as a talent, but it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t develop it. In my first years I had an excellent coach. He was very important for my development and he taught me many difficult, technical skills. I really enjoyed this.
A quality coach means the world to a young and talented player. It’s in the early years you learn the most, and it’s crucial you get the game right the first time. This will help you build up skills in the future.

Europamester: Did you dream of becoming the best player in the world and what about role models, did you have any?

-Everybody has dreams of becoming a great player. This is essential if you want to be among the best. If you haven’t got the ambitions, you won’t go anywhere. I never really had any role models nor specific players that I admired.

Europamester: Anja Andersen brought you to Slagelse and the Danish league. Everyone could see the potential, but were surprised that you developed so quickly into a quality player, perhaps one of the best.

-Yes, I started doing things the right way, when I arrived in Slagelse. At first I was short of physical strength, but had many technical skills. Anja could see my imperfection and helped me to develop physical and defensively. Furthermore Anja also helped me a lot outside the arena, but it is always important to believe in you self and pursue your goals.

Europamester: You have taken over the role as team leader from Camilla Andersen. Do the new role and the extra responsibility affect your play?

-I don’t think differently just because I’m the captain, but sometimes the pressure on me increases. Nevertheless I don’t feel like I’m under pressure though the expectations this season certainly aren’t less.

Europamester: Slagelse hasn’t been as dominating this season compared to the last.

-Yes, we are not as convincing like we were last season, but we’re still number 1. We are also in the Champions League semifinal, where we would like to keep the title.

Europamester: How does it feel to be announced as the best player in the world?

-I don’t really think about “being the best”. I work hard at every training sessions and have been doing so all my life. Sometimes I achieve some spectacular things out of the ordinary, but I never plan to do so, it’s quite spontaneous.
I believe no one is perfect; no matter how old you are there’re always things to improve. It’s very important constantly trying to develop your skills. However it’s much easier to become skilled while you’re still young.

Europamester: Many Danish internationals have different rituals prior to a match. It’s usually something small; like tying the right shoelace before the left. Do you have any rituals or things you need to repeat before every game?

-I don’t have any rituals before a match. I stay focused on the tactical aspect we’ve been practising.

Europamester: You have already won the Champions League with Slagelse. - What does the future of Bojana bring?

-I see it this way; when you have won the cup once, you would like to repeat the triumph.
I think Denmark has the best league in the World and I like to play at this level. I really enjoy playing for Slagelse DT and haven’t got any plans of playing in a different club.
I can’t really say what the future holds when I stop playing handball, but I don’t see myself as a handball-coach. I would like start a family in 2-3 years.

Europamester: You didn’t get Anja Andersen as national-coach of Serbia & Montenegro, like you wanted. Will you return to the national team at the World Cup 2005?

-I really think it was a shame we didn’t get Anja Andersen as head-coach. With her pulling the strings, we would have won everything! I will still be a part of the national team, but there are many issues in the federation that needs to be solved.

Europamester: As a professional it could be important to get away from handball from time to time. How do you use your spare time?

-I really enjoy time with my family, where I can settle down. Also going on vacation can be healthy.
I spend a lot of time together with players from Slagelse. In Slagelse we are many players that speak the same language. Ana Batinic and Ana Vojcic from Ikast-Bording are also very good friends of mine.

Europamester: What do you think about “europamester”?

-Europamester is a great homepage. It’s always updated with the latest news and results. Furthermore there are all sorts of information about female handball

Europamester: Thank you Bojana for your time.