‘RESPECT YOUR TALENT’ stars rising at EHF EURO 2020
The ‘RESPECT YOUR TALENT’ scheme introduced by the EHF on the initiative of the Women’s Handball Board is on full display at the EHF EURO 2020, with several players part of the project currently competing in the main round: Russia’s Valeriia Maslova, the Netherlands’ Larissa Nusser, Montenegro’s Anastasia Babovic and Hungary’s Gréta Kácsor.
Also part of the ‘RESPECT YOUR TALENT’ scheme but members of teams eliminated in the preliminary round at the EHF EURO 2020 are Czech Republic’s Veronika Mikulaskova and Sabrina Novotna, and Slovenia’s Valentina Klemencic.
‘RESPECT YOUR TALENT’ was introduced in 2019 with the goal of encouraging the personal development of young female handball players who are identified at younger age category events organised by the EHF. The first players forming part of the project were identified at the Women’s 17 and 19 EHF EUROs and the EHF Championships held in the summer of 2019.
One of the identified players currently at the EHF EURO 2020 did not have to wait long to enjoy a pinnacle experience on the global stage. Nusser was part of the Netherlands’ team that won the World Championship 2019, playing an hour and 40 minutes at the championship and contributing eight goals overall.
The Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2019 silver medallist and All-star Team member is still just 20 years old and the future for the København centre back has been marked as very bright for some time by her national federation.
At the EHF EURO 2020, Nusser has played just under 100 minutes and scored seven goals as the Netherlands fight for their third straight berth in the semi-finals at the event.
Russia right back Maslova, aged 19, also has an important role in her team, sharing time in her position with another rising star in Russia’s side, Antonina Skorobogatchenko.
Maslova has scored five goals and played 75 minutes at the EHF EURO 2020. The W19 EHF EURO 2019 All-star Team right back’s best game so far was in the main round opening win, 24:23, against Montenegro, where she scored three goals against many of her club teammates from Buducnost.
“It’s an unusual feeling because you want to kiss them because they are your teammates but you want to kill them because you play against them,” Maslova said after the match. “Thank you so much to my team and Ambros [Martin, Russia coach], that you believe in me and gave me this chance to play.”
Montenegro goalkeeper Anastasija Babovic has more competition in her position in her team, but has played close to 20 minutes at the EHF EURO 2020 and made four saves. Meanwhile, Gréta Kácsor – All-star Team left back at the W19 EHF EURO 2019, where Hungary won the title, and also member of Hungary’s Junior World Championship 2018 winning side and the Youth World Championship 2018 squad that took the silver medal – has played 15 minutes and scored two goals so far in Denmark.
Like Kácsor, Maslova and Nusser were part of both the Junior and Youth World Championships in 2018. Along with contributing to Russia’s fourth-place finish at the W19 EHF EURO 2019, Maslova took the silver medal at the U20 World Championship – losing the final to Hungary and Kácsor – before defending the U18 world title against Hungary and Kácsor one month later. The Netherlands and Nusser ranked fifth at that Junior World Championship, then seventh at the Youth event.
Aside from the young players forming part of ‘RESPECT YOUR TALENT’ at the EHF EURO 2020, project ambassadors such as Norway captain Stine Oftedal and Spain’s Nerea Pena are still on court in the main round, while Slovenia’s Ana Gros and Serbia's Andrea Lekic bowed out after the preliminary round.