Respect Your Talent alumni impress at EHF EURO 2022

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EHF / Adrian Costeiu

Eleven alumni from the Respect Your Talent class of 2021 have been part of the Women’s EHF EURO 2022, underlining once again the importance of the programme.

Launched in 2019 by the EHF, the Respect Your Talent programme promotes the holistic development of talented players, both on and off the handball court, addressing topics such as dual career, anti-doping, mental fitness, media and sports law.

During the past years, a plethora of young players has taken part in the programme, mentored by former stalwarts, like Anja Althaus, Nerea Pena, Katarina Bulatovic and Jelena Grubisic or current players like Ana Gros, Andrea Lekic or Stine Oftedal.

A piece of advice or just listening to such accomplished stars meant the world for many of the young players taking part in the programme. Some of them have now made the next step in their careers, shining on the biggest of stages at the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

While success at a young age serves also as a huge motivator for players who are just starting their careers, obviously their performance at the top level is what really makes or breaks a player. And the first steps are crucial, especially when representing the senior national team for the first time at such a major tournament.

A total of 11 Respect Your Talent alumni from the class of 2021 were in this situation when they made their debut at the EHF EURO 2022 for their national teams, with excellent results for some of them, with their games getting the praise from coaches and teammates alike.

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With a strong shot and a great handball IQ, projecting as one of Sweden’s top weapons in the future, left back Tyra Axnér looks to be one of the next stars of handball. The All-star left back at the W17 EHF EURO 2019 scored 13 goals and had two assists in her team’s run to the fifth place.

Another RYT alumni representing Sweden was right back Nina Koppang, with the Scandinavian side’s future looking bright.

Romania also had two RYT alumni in their squad: left back Diana Lixandroiu and right wing Mihaela Mihai, with the former playing meaningful minutes in the game against France, where she scored four goals in her full debut at the senior national team.

Mihai, on the other side, deputised on the right wing in the last game of the main round against Germany, and is one to watch for the future, especially in a position where Romania lacked impetus.

Switzerland made their debut at the EHF EURO, as Mia Emmenegger and Sev Albrecht shone for the side. Emmenegger, one of the top prospects on the right wing, had three of the six games where a player covered the largest number of kilometres, with 5.36, 5.32 and 5.25 kilometres run per game.

Montenegro’s left wing of the future, Nadja Kadovic, celebrated her side’s bronze medal after scoring six goals in the competition. Kim Molenaar scored three goals for the Netherlands, as the MVP of the 2022 Women’s Junior World Championship became accustomed with the senior national team.

France’s Léna Grandveau, Serbia’s Natasa Cetkovic and North Macedonia’s Marija Jovanovska were also players born after 2000 who got their first taste of the senior EHF EURO, as the Respect Your Talent programme surely helped them envision a bright future.

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Several players who featured in the Respect Your Talent class of 2019 have also taken the court at the EHF EURO 2022, with the programme already yielding results since its inception.

Dutch line player Nikita van der Vliet has been an integral part of the team’s defence, as she is slowly starting to get her ground in the senior national team. She impressed at the W19 EHF EURO 2019, where she was one of the best players in the competition as she helped her side win the silver medal.

One of the other alumni of the Class of 2019, Hungarian left back Gréta Kácsor, who made the All-star Team back then and was one of the top players of her generation, was also a part of Hungary’s team at the EHF EURO 2022, which finished in 10th place.

Kácsor finished the tournament with five goals from 15 shots and featured in all six games played by Hungary in the competition, and is set to be one of the top left backs in handball in the next years.

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