The next guest in our campaign dedicated to all the women in the handball world is a handball fan and physiotherapist – Diana Veljanovska. Diana is a young woman currently working as a physiotherapy intern in one clinic in Croatian city Opatija. She also works as a physiotherapist on kids’ handball matches. If you want to find out why she adores Nora Mork or what is her connections with HC Podravka Vegeta, HC Vardar 1961, and HC Metalurg but also many more interesting things – just keep reading.
Why do you like handball?
I love sports and every sport is special to me in some way. However, handball won me over because of the dynamic of the game and the virtuosity of individual players, which makes it seem like an easy sport, although it is not. Also, what I still like about handball is that you should never underestimate a team because of the dynamics and fast flow of the ball. It is difficult to predict who will win.
Do you follow women’s handball? Who is your favorite handball player and why?
I don’t follow it as much as men’s handball, but of course, I like to watch the DELO EHF Champions League. The title of my favorite definitely goes to Norwegian handball player Nora Mork. Being a physiotherapist I know how hard it is to get back into sports after an injury and keep playing at the same pace. Nora suffered a large number of knee injuries, serious ones (I think there were ten). Everyone told her that there was no chance of her returning to the court and that she would not be able to play at all. Then when the EHF EURO 2020 came she showed everyone that she is still at the top level. What I like the most about her is the persistence and effort that always pays off in the end.
What is the most interesting part of your role as a handball fan?
It would probably be PPD Zagreb vs Elverum match when I was at the stands with the White Lions (PPD Zagreb’s fans). The team played really well and in a rush of euphoria when Zagreb was in an offence, I shouted ‘Zeljko Musa’, the White Lions started shouting after me. At the time, I felt like their leader.
Do you go to handball matches outside your country? If so, where have you been so far?
Unfortunately, I’m not going to matches outside of my country because of my work, but of course, I’d love to go and see what it’s like to cheer for my club, national team in another state.
Can you single out your favorite handball memory?
I’m too little in the handball world to have any memories, but as I work as a physiotherapist in one of the domestic leagues for younger categories, I’m always kind of glad to see the kids play with their hearts and look forward to every match no matter the result at the end.
Apart from sports, do you have any other interests? We know that you have studied physiotherapy and that you work in the profession. Where does the love for physiotherapy come from?
The love for physiotherapy was simply born. I have always been active in sports as well, so physiotherapy seemed to be the right choice to start my professional career. I’m quite a communicative, social person who doesn’t lack creativity, so I think that helps me even more in my job as physiotherapist.
In your undergraduate dissertation, you combined your love for the profession and for handball. Can you tell us what the preparation and writing of the thesis in collaboration with Vardar and Metalurg were like?
As I have always been interested in some analyzes, I analyzed the work of the club’s professional staff and compared their quality in relation to the frequency of injuries in the club. I rounded off the whole story by comparing it all to data from the European Handball Federation. Honestly, at first, I thought I was going to have problems because email communication is not the same as live communication. However, the physiotherapists of both clubs were willing to cooperate and answered all my questions and sub-questions extensively, helping me with my work at all times.
You worked in HC Podravka Vegeta. What was your role? Describe your experience working in a women’s handball club.
In the second year of college, I decided to do a professional internship in a sports club, fortunately, HC Podravka Vegeta accepted me. My role was to help the main physiotherapist which meant I had to be present at every practice. Mostly these were some small interventions that I had to do because at the time when I was at the club, they had a break from matches.
Do you do any sports yourself?
At the moment, only recreationally, but when I was younger, I was involved in swimming and diving.
Does anyone in your family play handball?
No one in my family played or is currently playing handball. But as a child, I watched Ivano Balic, Petar Metlicic, and others from that famous generation and it simply became a sport that I can watch anytime and no matter which team plays.
Is there a handball match that you especially remember and why?
The match Croatia vs Poland at the EHF EURO 2016. Croatia had to win by 11 goals to secure a place in the semi-finals. Everyone said we have no chance, and in the end, we won that match with 37:23.
What other sports do you follow besides handball?
I follow most sports, but after handball, I mostly follow Formula 1.
Do you have a message for handball fans?
I know we all like to comment on how someone played, then look for the ones who are guilty of the defeat, but let the coaches be the coaches, and you just enjoy the game because handball is first and foremost a game.