Empower to inspire: How Pintea has harnessed the power of charity
On the court, Crina Pintea looks to be one of the players who gives every ounce of energy. A defensive specialist, Pintea will always look for contact and try to stop the best players in the world. In attack, she can be a force to be reckoned with, being unstoppable at times, usually defended by two or even three opponents.
On the inside, though, CSM Bucuresti’s line player is totally different. She has never forgotten where she came from, underlining time and time again - whenever presented with the chance - how sport in general and handball, in this particular case, can change one’s life.
We will look into her story now, in the fourth part of our 'Empower to Inspire' series.
“I was born and grew up in Podu Turcului, a small village in Bacău. I usually did the chores in my house and never shied away from anything. Therefore, I know how difficult it is to live an underprivileged life,” says Pintea, in a trip down memory lane.
There are plenty of statistics where Romania lies last in the European Union regarding the quality of life in villages, especially for children. Three years ago, over 4200 schools in rural areas of Romania did not have an indoor flushing toilet. Therefore, the challenges are big and Pintea decided to lend a hand to the ones in need.
“Like many things in life, this came quite unexpectedly. I was with the Romania national team in a hotel near the airport in Bucharest, before leaving for a friendly tournament. I met some lovely women, who were representing an NGO helping children in rural areas. We kind of clicked immediately,” remembers CSM’s line player.
Pintea has a huge heart, which immediately set her mind racing. She was already helping here and there, wherever she could, through her well-known profile in Romania. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she used one of her hobbies to help people in need.
During lockdown, Pintea knitted facemasks, which were donated or bid on, with all the money going to NGOs which helped people during the hard times. It was one way of giving back, in times of need, when lives were totally derailed.
Later, she had another challenge on her hands, which she tackled head on. After the EHF EURO 2022, where she played for Romania, Pintea went back home and set up a plan to further help people.
Alongside Plan B, the NGO represented by the women she met, she started to lend a hand and went to action.
“These children bring back memories of myself when I was a little kid. Once again, I know how difficult their life is, because I was there. They never left their village and such a chance, to go to Romania’s capital, Bucharest, and visit it is huge for their lives,” says Pintea.
The groundwork was laid quickly. The first draft was for Pintea to play a friendly game, with all the proceedings going to the underprivileged children. But she could not play by herself. Therefore, she went to her club, CSM Bucuresti, to help.
Immediately, the answer was positive. CSM decided that proceedings from tickets from several games would go to help the children assisted by Plan B, with some of them coming to Bucharest to visit the city and attend the team’s matches.
Pintea was named the ambassador of the cause, dubbed “Be a Tiger Santa for Christmas”, underlining the nickname of the club, “The Tigers”.
“CSM did an amazing job for the children and we helped them have the time of their lives. Just being there, witness the games, enjoy the city, have some fun, it really helps. Everybody needs an adventure and this was one for them. I am really happy that it worked out,” says Pintea.
“Can handball help model a character? From my part, I would say yes. For me, it worked out, I have learnt a lot, I could not be the person I am now without the power of the sport, without the power of handball. It is an amazing sport, which really helped me grow.”
Pintea will not stop here, though. She was already a speaker in a workshop organised by Plan B alongside some sponsors, with her fee for appearance donated to the NGO, further underlining the bond between the player and the cause.
For CSM’s line player, inspiring other people is not an option. And handball runs in the family. Her sister, Andreea, is also a line player and is Pintea’s teammate at CSM, further proof that sport can change lives.
“It is not about me feeling good or lending a hand. It is about helping others and creating a better life for them. If it changes some lives, it is even better,” concludes the Romanian line player.