IWD | Biljana Crvenkoska: ‘’When you raise the trophy you feel as if the world is yours!”

IWD | Bojana Jelicic: ”Be aware of the need to continuously invest in yourself and your knowledge’’
March 4, 2022
IWD | Diana Veljanovska: ”After watching Balic and Metlicic, handball simply became a sport I can watch anytime!”
March 6, 2022
Show all

IWD | Biljana Crvenkoska: ‘’When you raise the trophy you feel as if the world is yours!”

Do you know that our next guest, in the IWD series of interviews, is the first female assistant coach in the history of the SEHA League and the EHF Champions League who won those two competitions with Vardar 1961 in the same year? We proudly present you the star of this interview, former handball player and current handball coach – Biljana Crvenkoska. Working with the handball legends like Roberto Parondo and Kiril Kazarov, Biljana has gained valuable experience. She truly lives handball because as she said handball is a masterpiece. 

You have spent many years as a professional handball player. What has been the main thing that led you during your career?

I started playing handball in elementary school, learning about the benefits of sports at that age. At that time there was a stereotype for handball players in North Macedonia who had to be tall and shooters, unlike the situation in Scandinavia where appearance was not important, but technical-tactical readiness. Because of that, I was somehow underestimated, and I wanted to show everyone that if the Scandinavian countries (leaders in the handball world) have not-so-tall handball players, it can also be like that in my country. I am very committed by nature, and I never give up and I think that is how I managed to prosper.

During your career, the most common numbers on your jersey were 15 and 51. Is there any symbolism of the numbers or a special reason why the combination of these two numbers?

I never had an idol, I liked a lot of handball players, their style of play, but I did not want to be like anyone. When we were children and we had to decide what number we want to wear, most teammates chose the number of the jersey according to their idols and which numbers they had. I chose 15 because no one in the senior team wore that number. I took the 51 when the number 15 was already taken.

During your playing career you played in several different countries (North Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Turkey). Are there any differences in the position of women’s handball in those countries?

In North Macedonia, handball has been the number one sport for years, unlike other countries where football, basketball, and volleyball are where the investments are made. In all the countries I played in, in those years they started to invest more in handball. If we compare the successes at the club and national level between North Macedonia and those countries, North Macedonia is very much ahead.

After finishing your playing career, you decided to stay in the handball world, but in a different role. Has your perception of handball changed now that you are in coach role? If so, can you explain the difference of the perspective on handball when you were a handball player and now a handball coach?

After finishing my career, I got a role as a deputy director of HC Vardar and a few years later I started working as an assistant coach of the team. Tasks and work as a player and as a coach are very different. When you are a player, you only think about implementation of what the coach requires of you and you specifically have a few tasks to focus on. Unlike coaching, where you need to focus on all the players as individuals and all the players as a team. I must emphasize that coaching is the hardest job I have ever done, but that’s why it brings the most satisfaction.

The year 2019 was very successful for you. In the role of assistant coach of HC Vardar, you won the SEHA League and EHF Champions League in the same year. Can you describe what that felt like?

That feeling is very difficult to describe. Due to the great competition, it was an extremely difficult season in both the SEHA League and the Champions League. A hard season, with many oscillations, but when you ascend the throne, when you raise the trophy, everything is forgotten, and you feel as if the world is yours.

Winning the SEHA League in 2019, you became the first assistant coach in the history of the League to achieve such great success. What did that mean for you? In your opinion, what does this mean for sport and handball in general?

Yes, I was the first female assistant coach in the history of the SEHA League and the Champions League. In the SEHA League, I was the first woman to lead a team as the first coach. I did a historical thing, I have taken a step forward and I am extremely proud of myself. I hope that many clubs will take this as an example and start practicing it because coaches should not be defined by gender, but by their competence.

In your rich professional career as a handball player, you have experienced a lot of wonderful moments. Can you single out your most beautiful handball memory?

What I can’t forget is the European Women’s Championship in Macedonia 2008 and the first match in the new playing hall in Skopje, with the full stands.. The Macedonian anthem started, and 8000 spectators sang in one voice. Of course, I must mention the moment of winning both trophies in the EHF Champions League. We won the first trophy with a goal in the last second. I could not believe that it happened. Also, I have the feeling that we won the second trophy in the semi-final match when from minus seven we managed to beat Barcelona 27:29. Unbelievable!

What is the most interesting thing in your job as a handball coach?

Now I am coaching HC Alkaloid, which is an ambitious club with excellent organization and structure, excellent conditions, and many young talents. Therefore the most interesting thing is that the coaches have preparations for every match, and not every match goes as we imagined, so everyone has a different course. Every match is a challenge and it has its own story, especially in the youth categories.

Living a sports life is quite dynamic, with very little free time. How do you spend your free time?

I really have a dynamic life and little free time. So I’m always trying to make a good use of that free time. Sometimes I’m using it for further education, but also to spend time with family and friends.

Do you have interests outside the world of sports and handball world?

While I was a professional handball player, I could not ski to avoid any unwanted injuries, but now that I am able, I want to ski.

Who from the handball world had the biggest impact on your career?

It was a great fortune for me as a young coach to start my coaching career with Roberto Parondo, from whom I learned a lot. The knowledge I gained with Roberto, I upgraded and perfected with Kiril Lazarov. It is a real privilege to work with two professionals and people who are dedicated to handball.

Why do you love handball?

Handball is a masterpiece.

What advice would you give to all women who have the desire and ambition to work in sports?

Working in sport is a privilege and responsibility. There is nothing better than creating future handball players, and nothing gives greater satisfaction than creating something of your own. I encourage all the women who have the desire and ambition to start today because with our help the players are realizing their dreams and with that, we are realizing ours.