How learning from the best created a new star

EHF / Adrian Costeiu

“I am lucky to have great mentors,” Alicia Gogirla said.

For an 18-year-old, ready for her big handball breakthrough, receiving tips from all-time greats like Andrea Lekic or Anita Görbicz is priceless.

When your mother is Simona Gogirla, the top scorer of the Women’s EHF EURO 2000, the standards are raised automatically.

For Alicia Gogirla, CSM’s young right back, the expectations were always going to be high. Her heritage, following in her mother’s footsteps, was definitely going to bring the pressure on her shoulders.

But for a rookie in the DELO EHF Champions League, the words flow freely, unbeknownst of everything that revolves around her.

“When I was little, I was not thinking about handball at all, I was dreaming to be a veterinary physician. Or maybe a top model,” Gogirla said.

“But as my mother was a top player, I started playing handball. First, it was only to take up another sport, but as time passed, I totally fell in love with this sport. I was also doing athletics and karate, but when I started to enjoy handball so much, I knew this was always going to be my life.”

While her mother was a towering left back, who was one of the most powerful shooters of her generation, Alicia is left-handed, therefore making the transition to the right back position, one that the Romanian women’s national team and the Romanian top clubs always fell short on.

“My mum, of course, helped a lot. Even when I was not thinking about being a professional handball player, she chimed in with great pieces of advice. She did not stop until now and I am really grateful to have this help,” added CSM’s right back.

20211119 Alicia Gogirla Full Width 1

Her development has been nothing short of sensational, touted as Romania’s future first choice right back for the next years.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Gogirla anchored the Romanian national team at the W19 EHF EURO 2021. The right back was her team’s top scorer, and the third best scorer of the tournament with 53 goals, as Romania finished fifth in the final standings.

“The tournament in itself was… a whirlwind, one I which will never forget. I lived every moment to the maximum, whether it was joy or sorrow,” said Gogirla.

With a big future in front of her, Alicia was also included in the EHF’s Respect Your Talent programme, which is promoting the holistic development of talented players’ careers; on and off the handball court.

She enjoyed meeting one of her role models, Andrea Lekic, who was a mentor for the programme during the W19 EHF EURO in Slovenia this summer.

“Andrea Lekic was and still is one of my role models, from which I try to learn and mould my game. It was useful, I had plenty of interesting information from Andrea and I met a lot of new people,” concluded Romania’s next big thing.

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Lekic and Gogirla’s mum, Simona, are not the only stars who influenced her career. The all-time top scorer of the DELO EHF Champions League, Anita Görbicz, also had a helping hand in her development.

While Simona Gogirla and Görbicz were teammates at Gyori Audi ETO KC between 2004 and 2007, the little Alicia, who was only two when her mum signed for the Hungarian powerhouse, grew under Görbicz’s watch.

“Anita was like a second mum to me. When my mum and she were traveling and playing away matches, her mum took great care of me. She is one of the closest persons to me, who also helps me to improve whenever she can,” adds Alicia.

With such influences, it was no surprise that Alicia Gogirla is a future star in the making. She had a rough patch during her junior years, with injuries that hampered her development.

Yet making her debut in the DELO EHF Champions League at such a young age, in a team full of stars like CSM Bucuresti was a huge boost for the right back.

She has already scored four goals in the first seven matches for the Romanian champions, including three against Buducnost BEMAX in CSM’s clearest win this season, 30:22.

Gogirla and CSM next take on FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria on Saturday (live on EHFTV at 16:00 CET), the team they narrowly lost to last Saturday in Hungary: 31:10.

But it was her debut against Rostov-Don that clearly left Gogirla impressed.

“I was very emotional when I made my debut in the DELO EHF Champions League. I cannot explain it in words, everything was shaking, my heart was racing. Facing tough opponents, like Eduarda Amorim and Ksenia Makeeva, one of the best defenders in the world, was huge. But when I scored my first goal, I was very proud of myself,” said CSM’s right back.

20211119 Alicia Gogirla Quote
I was very emotional when I made my debut in the DELO EHF Champions League. I cannot explain it in words, everything was shaking, my heart was racing. Facing tough opponents, like Eduarda Amorim and Ksenia Makeeva, one of the best defenders in the world, was huge. But when I scored my first goal, I was very proud of myself
Alicia Gogirla
CSM Bucuresti right back

A huge mark was also left by playing alongside Cristina Neagu, an idol for Romanian players and fans.

History has a funny way of repeating itself or coming full circle. In Alicia’s case, it started, obviously, with her mum, who was Neagu’s teammate in Rulmentul Brasov, when Neagu was only 18.

“I know Cristina since I was four, but I did not expect to play with her so early. The fun thing is that my mom was 33 years old when she was her teammate. Now she is 33 and I am 18, and we are playing together. Cristina has a great character and she is always helpful on the court, it is clear she is at the top,” concluded Gogirla.

While Romania clearly have its flows in educating young players, Alicia is driven by a hunger both in handball and in day-to-day life.

She is studying law, aspiring to represent players in the future, maybe towards the end of her playing career, in a clearly unpopulated market of sporting lawyers.

Until that point, she is focusing on handball.

“I feel that my dreams are starting to get alive, I am in a constant growth. I still miss the trophies, which I got plenty in the junior categories,” she said.

“I hope to help the national team, to be able to improve and get some good results in the future. I want to be the best version of myself I can be, because I care about the national team and I love my country.”

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