Talents enjoy summer of inspiration at Respect Your Talent events

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Imagine you grew up watching and admiring Ivano Balic. And then, when your own talent has started to blossom, you suddenly meet the Croatian great in person. And – even better – he is there to support you and your handball career! It all happened at one of the Respect Your Talent events alongside the various YAC tournaments in July and August.

Balic visited the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2022 in Montenegro last week for an inspiring session with some of the biggest talents of the game.

Like at the other Younger Age Category (YAC) tournaments this summer, each awarded Player of the Match in Podgorica was invited to the Respect Your Talent (RYT) event with the former star player – an Olympic and world champion with Croatia.

With his class and experience, Balic is a perfect RYT ambassador for the up-and-coming stars from tomorrow. The talents can learn a lot from Balic: they all are on the road to become high-level players, but the mentoring is focusing just as much on off-court topics.

The Player of the Match event is centred around the question: What is talent? It is not all about training as a player for handball, but also about training as a person – ultimately to become a better player.

Started in 2019, the RYT programme promotes a holistic development of talented players’ careers – on and off the court. In EHF’s philosophy, talent is what a player makes of it – the main responsibility to become a pro player is in the players’ hands.

And Balic couldn’t agree more with this philosophy.

“We ambassadors are here to help the young players in the best way we can,” says Balic.

“My pro tip for the young talents: 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 is one of three former players who have joined the RYT programme as ambassadors this summer, alongside Rastko Stojkovic and Luka Zvizej.

A total of six RYT ambassadors have been in action during all seven M20 and M18 EHF EURO and EHF Championship tournaments this summer:

  • M20 EHF EURO in Porto (Portugal): Victor Tomas (ESP)
  • M20 EHF Championship 1 in Varna (Bulgaria): Carlos Prieto (ESP)
  • M20 EHF Championship 2 in Varna: Rastko Stojkovic (SRB)
  • M18 EHF EURO in Montenegro (Podgorica): Ivano Balic (CRO)
  • M18 EHF Championship in Tel Aviv (Israel): Rastko Stojkovic (SRB)
  • M18 EHF Championship in Riga (Latvia): Stefan Lövgren (SWE)
  • M18 EHF Championship in Craiova (Romania): Luka Zvizej (SLO)

The RYT events made it in inspiring summer for more than 200 talents, who were awarded Player of the Match at one of the seven YAC tournaments across Europe and used the opportunity to soak up as much advice and experience as possible from the ambassadors.

But the RYT programme hasn’t stopped here for 2022.

All players participating at the EHF YAC 18 and 20 tournaments this summer have been invited to register for the RYT app, which will be launched this year and offers digital off-court training sessions.

Also, the All-star Team players of the four M18 tournaments can look forward to joining the Respect Your Talent Camp in January 2023, where they will dive even deeper. The talents get the chance to broaden their knowledge about topics such as dual career, sports law, anti-doping, mental health, and media.

Also, they have the opportunity to spend more time with the ambassadors, getting first-hand insights from the players who have all seen it and done it on the biggest stage.

Finally, ‘RYT virtual ambassador training sessions’ are scheduled for the upcoming autumn. The All-star Team players of the EHF YAC events will be invited to join and benefit additionally from EHF’s mentoring programme.

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