Lekic: “Being an ambassador is an honour for me”
The Respect Your Talent camp in Vienna welcomes this weekend young talented players from the Women’s Under-17 EHF EURO and Championship. In its second edition, the ones we must follow in the future will have unique chance to spend time with their role models in special off-court sessions.
One of the ambassadors of this unique EHF project is Andrea Lekic, a centre-back who has played at the top level for over a decade. She is a well-known face in handball, an EHF Champions League winner, IHF World Player of the Year, medallist with the Serbian national team… but also a person who loves to work with younger generations.
“I am really honoured to be an ambassador of the Respect Your Talent programme. It’s a privilege to be able to teach younger generations because sport gave everything to us and it is our obligation to give back,” says Lekic.
“I want to help them with my experience so they can be prepared for different situations they might encounter. I can’t wait for the weekend and for another work on different aspects with young players.”
Whenever she talks about handball and sport, there is not a chance she will miss pointing out how working with younger generations is important. For Lekic, working with children in sport is one of the best things handball gave to her and for her, that experience is indescribable.
“For children and young players, sport is pure game, source of happiness and love,” she says. “That is what they teach us about sport. Helping us not to forget first feeling we all had in the beginning. We try our best to be motivators. This close communication off-court as we have on Respect Your Talent camp is a good way to broaden their perspectives, give them answers to all their questions but also to hear their story. Each one is a special one.
“My main message to younger generations is to never forget that handball is about love and passion. They have to arm themselves with patience and persistence. They will face many ups and downs in their career, but what matters is the goal they have in their mind and how persistent they want to be to fulfill that dream. I always tell them that working on yourself is a prerequisite for any success.”
The Respect Your Talent project aims to make the players aware of their talent, but also to stress that talent itself is not enough to succeed. A player doesn’t have to be good just on the court, there are many different areas where he or she needs to be at his best like media communication, anti-doping regulations, law or education.
“It is not easy to move from junior to senior handball, more precisely to professional waters,” adds Lekic. “It’s a big step and a challenge we’ve all been through. By my example, I went step by step and didn’t skip any. That is extremely important. I was looking for an environment in which I would thrive and be accepted. Their choices are something that will define their future.
“The most important thing when it comes to choosing a new club is to choose the environment in which they will play and have room for improvement. They have to keep in mind not everything can always be perfect. Starting a professional career is a big leap and change for all young players. With my ambassador colleagues, I try to bring closer to them all those aspects.’’
Lekic is ready for another three beautiful days in Vienna, hoping she will be able to help young talents with her experience, believing, just like Jelena Grubisic, that all of them will have bright careers.
“Young players have to accept that it is a normal process if they run into obstacles while pursuing their dream. Courage and faith in what you are doing, with a mixture of patience is what will lead them to great results.”