The EHF ‘Respect Your Talent’ (RYT) programme, launched in 2019, continued to develop in 2022 with several events and the recruitment of high-profile new ambassadors.
Respect Your Talent identifies the best young handball players from across Europe and helps them develop not just their handball but also their off-court skills, and ability to handle the pressure of high-performance sport, and put them on the pathway to an elite career.
The programme is supported by a host of experienced and often legendary players who act as ambassadors, conveying key messages to the young talents. New ambassadors in 2022 included Ivano Balić, Rastko Stojković and Luka Žvižej, who joined the likes of Carlos Prieto, László Nagy, Vid Kavtičnik, Stefan Lövgren, Victor Tomás, Andrea Lekić, Anja Althaus, Jelena Grubišić, Ana Gros and Kari Aalvik Grimsbø.
A major step in 2022 was the development of digital platforms – the introduction of the RYT app, which will be formally launched in 2023 and online ambassador sessions launched in October this year. A total of 25 training sessions for the programme’s topics – media responsibilities, handling a dual career, sports law, anti-doping, and mental fitness – have been created and will be available in the app. Programme participants also have been given access to online sessions for first-hand insights from ambassadors and topical experts, which will be held twice a month in 2023.
In 2022, the key event was the camp for the M19 EHF EURO and Championships 2021 All-star Team players in Budapest during the Men's EHF EURO 2022 in January, alongside events for the Players of the Match at all the younger age category events in the summer. The Budapest camp was praised by ambassadors and participants alike.
“I am happy and proud to be part of the ambassadors’ team, where we are all trying to help and shape young handball diamonds. I strongly believe that this programme is a game-changer for many of the talents on their mission to become a pro player,” said former Slovenia national team player Kavticnik.
Stefan Lövgren, Swedish handball legend, now RYT ambassador added: “During the camp players are staying longer together, they are learning from each other and from ambassadors. They are coming closer together, they are opening up to help each other, not to see each other as opponents but as friends. “
“I think that after this camp I developed some skills that will definitely help me off and on-court. These three days were great and I hope that there will be more Respect Your Talent camps in the future because this was a big opportunity for us to improve our careers,” added 18-year-old Alexandru Mihai Pasca, a young talent from Romania.
More than 230 talents enjoyed the ‘Player of the Match’ events at various YAC tournaments this summer, one of them being the M20 EHF EURO 2022 in Portugal. Awarded Players of the Match had the chance to meet RYT ambassador Victor Tomas. Tomas led a workshop focusing on ‘What makes a great player?’ The former Barça ace explained the importance of off-court skills from his own experience.
“A player needs to respect himself in every aspect of life, not only when practising, playing, lifting weights. This is what it means to be great,” said Tomas.
The young players also undertook a media management class, which turned into a teambuilding exercise, where players themselves acted as journalists interviewing their peers.
Croatian legend Ivano Balic acted as RYT ambassador at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2022 in Montenegro. Balic gave his insight into a variety of topics during sessions with the tournament’s Players of the Match as well as his pro tip for young players.
“They should always put the maximum effort in to become an even better player. It is up to young talents to decide how far they can go,” Balic said.
“So, we focus on off-court topics as there can be many obstacles they can run into. Media relations, and mental fitness, are just some of the topics I like to talk about. I like to transfer my knowledge about things I had to learn on my own. It is good they have us, the ambassadors, to ease the path for them.”
The ‘RYT Class of 2022’, around 30 All-star Team players of this summer’s EHF's YAC events, will have the opportunity to learn and get first-hand insights from the ambassadors and topical experts at the RYT Camp, which will be organised from 27 to 29 January 2023 in Vienna.