With the Women’s EHF EURO 2020 groups to be drawn on 18 June, Montenegro are eagerly anticipating the discovery of their opponents.
Placed in Pot 3, the Women’s EHF EURO 2012 champions are in an uncertain position, with the likes of France, Russia, Netherlands or Norway their potential preliminary round rivals.
However, Montenegro captain Jovanka Radicevic pays little attention to their potential rivals, putting motivation and performance of her own team in focus.
“I respect any opponent but I also like to make sure everyone respects Montenegro. Any team will have a tough time against us if we play our best handball. It is up to us, we have to make sure we are ready, both physically and mentally."
Montenegro have a blend of youth and experience in their team, combining the influence of veteran stars like Radicevic with a number of promising youngsters. As one of the senior members in the national team, Radicevic has a task to ensure the youngsters have bedded well into the team, and giving their best in every game.
”The best way to succeed is to lead by example. We have a lot of talented youngsters, but they need to learn hard work is equally important.
“Talent is useless if there is no dedication and hard work. I am the example of that, I always demand more from myself and from my teammates. That is the only way to move forward.
”Every training is like a match, and every match is like a final. That way, we can go into every game of any competition looking to fight for the highest accolades," says the 33-year-old.
I missed handball so much
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a halt to the season, with both matches and training suspended. The players and their teams have found themselves in a very different situation, one which may influence the remainder of the year.
However, for this season’s EHF Champions League top scorer and All-star right wing, it presented an opportunity to work more on physical training.
“I am just about to have some real vacation in the following days. Isolation allowed me to spend time on the countryside and still train hard. After two months of conditioning work, I feel very well physically.
“I just missed handball so much. I could not imagine being away from the game and feel eager to get back on the court.
“This pandemic will leave a mark, no doubt about it. The situation showed me how everything can turn upside-down in one second. But the best thing to do is to stay positive and do whatever is up to you. The most important thing is that we are all well and hopefully life will slowly get back to normal," says Radicevic.
Fighting spirit made me the player I am today
Spirit and hard work are signatures which have followed Jovanka Radicevic’s throughout her career – From her beginnings at Buducnost to continental giants like Györ, Vardar and CSM.
The star right wing is now overjoyed to be back at the place where it all started. Her legacy at Montenegro leads back to the biggest sporting success of the country.
“It will be hard to repeat 2012. National pride, desire an togetherness led us on our path. We did it all – the Champions League, EURO and Olympic finals all in one season. It was unforgettable.
“When I first came into the national team, I felt so much excitement that I could not sleep. I always felt grateful to God to be here and able to achieve all of this. Fighting spirit made me the player I am today, desire and dedication were the leading force in my rise as a player.
“I have continued a family legacy, as my mother was a talented handball player. Unfortunately, she stopped playing to dedicate to family, but the love still remained.
“I was always competitive and learned to fight for any chance I got, which made me the way I am today. I travelled 25km to training and enjoyed every second of it.
“Handball is my love and I cannot imagine being away from it. I feel like I still have several years to give."