Platon: Identifying and creating quality players before achieving results as a team

The public knows the coach of Vardar's youth categories, Andzela Platon, as the former national team player and European champion from 2002, when she played for Kometal Gjorche Petrov. Now, Platon works with 28 girls aged 16 to 19, who compete within the cadet and youth MHF league.

We talked to her about her expectations from the girls, and the development of young players through activities organized by the Vardar Handball Academy and the Vardar Junior League.

* After the successful player's career, you decided to coach and you started with the youngest. Is it hard to share your experience and knowledge with them?

During my whole coaching career, I realized that a good player, with a rich career as mine, should put more efforts as a coach. The experience gained through playing many matches helps me better understand the psychology of the player that first trains individually, and later finds his/her place in the team. Every second in the court, the player must predict when to play individually and when as a team.
Considering my work with youth categories, where identifying and creating quality players comes first and achieving results as a team comes later, I think that the job of the coach is more than difficult and responsible. Together with my colleagues, we create new players that will play in Macedonian teams, within the Super League. They will represent us with dignity in European leagues and in national teams, which is an honor in every sport. Therefore, the work is complex and it requires a lot of energy and dedication to every player during training sessions and matches.

* Vardar is the only club in Macedonia with two teams in the youth categories. You are a coach of Vardar SCJS. Are you satisfied with the results you achieved so far?

Yes, the Vardar Handball Academy made a "small revolution" in the approach toward the youngest. At the end of each season, players from all Vardar's schools in Macedonia are selected to fill the youth teams. Coaches are looking for players that deserve and contribute to positive affirmation of the club. Of course, this working principle set by Vardar's management composed of top home and international handball stars, motivates all players to give their best, because no one's place in the selection is guaranteed if the player does not show serious personal improvement compared to the previous year.
Therefore, it is difficult to answer this question because I know that the Macedonian public knows all handball secrets, but I am not always satisfied when we win. I want my players to give their best through the whole 60 minutes and to play with their hearts and brains. I constantly repeat to the girls that I am not interested only in winning. First, I want them to show me that they learn everything I tell them.

* Do you see a difference in children's dedication now, when the working conditions are excellent, and in the past?

Of course, the working conditions these generations have are a "sci-fi movie" compared to those previous generations had. However, dedication and persistence give results, not tracksuits and trainers.

* Vardar often sends its teams to international tournaments. What is the influence of these tournaments on child's development into a handball player!

Competitions are essential moments in the development of every player. When you are young, before you start training, you think that all you need is to enter the court, win and everyone will love you. Reality is different and not so bright if we do not work on ourselves. Matches upgrade training sessions and contribute to creative development of the child. Six teams compete in the youth and cadet categories within the Macedonian championship and we play only 10 matches, which is not enough. Therefore, tournaments are more than welcome. We have information that in the former Yu-republics, teams participate in 5-6 tournaments per year, but they also have more teams, which means more matches.

* We expect great results to come out from this Vardar's project. When could we expect these results?

Results are evident and we have a couple of young players in the 1st and 2nd teams. However, we cannot expect good results overnight and we cannot wait for miracles. We have to work hard, zealously and gradually.

* You also guide the team Novo Lisiche Vardar from the Vardar Junior League. Are children more interested in handball now?

Of course, Vardar as a brand is in the hearts of every citizen of Skopje and probably of every Macedonian. With the success of the men's and women's seniors, the interest in handball in all Vardar's schools has grown. The Vardar Junior League is the first step the youngest players in every Vardar's handball school make, and the goal is that children should learn the game through matches, they should learn what fair play is, but they should also have fun.
Sometimes this is hard for the parents to understand. It is important for us to create at least one good player in each generation who will make us proud. We are not interested in diplomas that hang on walls in offices and sports halls.

* Are there talented children in Macedonia?

Yes there are! All coaches of youth categories share that responsibility every day.

*You were part of the golden generation of Kometal Gjorche Petrov (former European champion) and of the most successful Macedonian national team. Has the understanding for handball changed?

The difference is huge. I remember when I started playing, the older players in the Russian league envied us, because we were better paid and had better working conditions. Like everything else, handball has modernized too, in the context of tactics, rules, speed. However, I will repeat, only 100% dedication brings good results; it has always been like that in handball. Everyone should be dedicated, starting from handball schools' level down to federations' level.

Thursday, 9 March 2017 - 16:33