It was a busy and successful summer for the Respect Your Talent programme with more than 450 players joining the project.
Launched in 2019, the programme promotes the holistic development of talented handball players’ careers on and off the handball court, using some of the sports’ top athletes to give advice and support in topics such as dual career, anti-doping, mental performance, media and sports law.
With 10 younger age category events taking place over the summer months involving hundreds of male and female athletes, it was the perfect opportunity for the EHF to introduce the Respect Your Talent programme to next generation of handball stars.
The project was originally designed to encourage the personal development of talented young female handball players but was expanded to included young male players in 2020. However, with the younger age category events scheduled for that summer postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was this summer that saw 450 players — including over 150 male athletes — join the project, adding to the 200-plus women who had already been introduced to the project.
Players at the events were selected to join the Respect Your Talent project by either winning a Player of the Match award or being named in an All-star Team. Once selected, the players had the opportunity to participate in an activity day held during the respective events. The All-star Team players will participate in a Respect Your Talent camp later in 2021.
Stars align to back campaign
In 2021, five top former players – Vid Kavticnik (Slovenia), Stefan Lövgren (Sweden), Carlos Prieto (Spain), Laszlo Nagy (Hungary) and Victor Tomas (Spain) – joined the men’s side of the Respect Your Talent project and participated in the activity days held on the fringe of the summer’s younger age category events.
Kavticnik and Lövgren attended the activity day held during the Men’s Under-19 EHF EURO 2021 in Croatia, while the Men’s Under-19 EHF Championships were attended by Prieto in North Macedonia, Nagy in Bulgaria and Tomas in Latvia.
Former THW Kiel and Sweden international Lövgren said: “As an ambassador in the Respect Your Talent programme, I think we have the task to encourage those talents, to support and help them in any way they want, with information, answering questions or just being there for them.
“That is our responsibility and I like to do that as a former player, to somehow give back to the next generation of handball players.”
At the women’s events, young talents had a chance to meet and talk to the project ambassadors Ana Gros (Slovenia), Anja Althaus (Germany). Andrea Lekic (Slovenia), Katarina Bulatovic (Montenegro) and Jelena Grubisic (Croatia).
The Respect Your Talent activity days took place during Women's Under-19 EHF EURO in Slovenia and Championships in North Macedonia and Italy and continued during women's Under-17 events in Montenegro, Georgia and Lithuania.
Around 150 players who received a Player of the Match award participated in Respect Your Talent Activity day across three competitions.
The next upcoming events include the RYT Camp for Women’s Under-17 All-Star team players in Vienna between 16-18 December, and for the Men’s Under-19 All-Star team players in Bratislava during the Men’s EURO, 20-22 January 2022.
To support the players in their development stage a RYT Toolkit app will be introduced in January 2022 to provide virtual training sessions in the areas of dual career, mental performance, interview training, social media, anti-doping and sports law.