Over 200 male players join Respect Your Talent project
With the four highly successful M19 Younger Age Category (YAC) events held over the past weeks in Croatia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Latvia, the Respect Your Talent (RYT) project saw its launch for male players. The holistic development project began in 2019 and has seen two iterations surrounding women’s YAC events, while the summer of 2021 is the first for men’s championships.
Originally designed to encourage the personal development of talented young female handball players, the RYT project was launched based on an initiative of the EHF Women’s Handball Board. The project was intended to expand to included young male players in 2020 but the YAC events scheduled for that summer were forced into postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
RYT’s core objectives are to promote the passion for handball in young players and to identify talented players and track their careers, supporting them in their development on and off the court. Within the EHF’s philosophy, talent is what a player makes of it — the main responsibility to become a professional player is in the players’ hands.
This summer, more than 500 players — including over 200 male athletes — have joined the project, adding to the 200 plus who were part of the first women’s iteration.
Players at the EHF YAC events are selected to join the RYT project by either winning a Player of the Match award or being named in an All-star Team. Once selected, the players have the opportunity to participate in an activity day held during the respective YAC events. The All-star Team players will participate in an RYT camp later in 2021.
In 2021, five top former players joined the men’s side of the RYT project and participated in the activity days held on the fringe of the summer’s YAC events: Vid Kavticnik (Slovenia), Stefan Lövgren (Sweden), Carlos Prieto (Spain), Laszlo Nagy (Hungary) and Victor Tomas (Spain). Kavticnik and Lövgren attended the activity day held during the M19 EHF EURO 2021 in Croatia, while the M19 EHF Championships were attended by Prieto (North Macedonia), Nagy (Bulgaria) and Tomas (Latvia).
“As an ambassador in this 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,” said Stefan Lövgren.
For Kavticnik, the EURO and activity day were particularly special, as the younger brother of one of his former Slovenia national teammates (Blaz Janc), Mitja Janc, was named not only All-star Team centre back but was MVP and joint top scorer of the event alongside Sweden’s Elliot Stenmalm.
"My personal definition of talent is that someone is born with some talents and this is only the beginning. I think it's around 10-20% and then it depends on how you develop this talent with your persistence and discipline throughout your career. It means you are respecting your talent; you know you are good but then you are also responsible for yourself. It's your responsibility how will you develop, how would you like to develop.
"It's not only about handball, but it's also for after your career, what will you do. You will always work in teams. Not always but most of the times jobs are to work in teams and if you are capable of doing something good with the handball team then you are capable of doing it anywhere else.
"My motivation to be an ambassador in this project is that I'll learn something from it. I'm happy if children or young players are telling me some of their experiences because I'm always open-minded. I was a little bit shaking because it's the first time for me but it's okay, I got this," concluded Kavticnik.
The players in RYT will benefit from other development aids aside from the in-person events, with a special toolkit having been developed and published. The toolkit includes, among other topics, information on media communication, use of social media, dual career, anti-doping and fair play. This will form a core part of the future education and training for all coming intakes of the Respect Your Talent project.
"This is a very nice opportunity to meet the best players from other national teams and especially top-class players like Vid Kavticnik and Stefan Lövgren," said Croatian player Marin Bozicevic.