Women at the heart of the game: Tanja Medved’s love for handball

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EHF / Danijela Vekić

Women at the Heart of the Game is a weekly series in the build-up to the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 that features former stars who have transitioned into a new role. In today’s fifth episode: EHF delegate Tanja Medved, former Serbian international who has starred both on and off the court.

Three weeks prior to the start of the 15th edition of the Women's EHF EURO 2022, when the 24 best European teams will play with heart for the trophy in North Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia, it is time to meet new women at the heart of the game.

The fifth episode introduces Tatjana Medved, a former top handball player with a bronze medal at the IHF Women's World Championship 2001 with FR Yugoslavia and team captain, long-time EHF Champions League and EHF EURO contender, EHF Champions League Women finalist and EHF Cup Winners' Cup champion, former sports director of Vardar’s wonen’s team, who now works as an EHF delegate, entrepreneur, and the president of the City Handball Association of Novi Sad.

The former Serbian international has been part of the EHF EURO story on both sides of the court, whether it was leading Serbia as a team captain or being nominated as an official for the competition. Medved is one of eight delegates nominated for the upcoming EHF EURO 2022. Apart from her successful EHF EURO story, Medved has been in different roles since her professional career ended in 2010.

Tatjana Medved comes from Novi Sad and her father being a handball delegate meant she did not grow up far from handball. However, her handball path started in school when she was only seven.

“I started handball in school. Apart from it, I used to play basketball, volleyball, shot put, and dodgeball. I really liked sport. Since every school had different sports teams, teachers were working with local clubs in recognising talents and abilities. That's how I joined a local club called Zeleznicar Novi Sad. I was progressing very fast and at the age of 13, I joined the first team,” says Medved about her handball beginnings.

Back in the day, teachers had a big influence on children and were the ones pointing them in the right direction, says Medved. That is why today she is thankful she went through the system and tries to transfer the same knowledge to young players as well.

“When I was little, in Yugoslavia there was a system of sport development among children through school and the subject was called Physical Education. It was very important to be involved in it and give your maximum and I believe it was more difficult than today and very important. The main word was education as we learnt through sport how to build your character, respect your teacher, personal hygiene, effort and commitment to achieve a higher goal, and the basic principles of sports, fair play and sports ethics.”

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Tatjana Medved was 16 when she first left her parent's house and moved to Belgrade. It was a new challenge in the left back’s life, but it was not hard on her as she always had her family's support. Her parents, brother and sister have always been her stronghold, even to this day.

“My family was my support throughout my whole career, they were my wind in the back. It is almost impossible to achieve anything without their support. I first left home in 1991 to go to Vozdovac Beograd. Then coach Dragan Nisevic had a goal of having talented players from Yugoslavia for one Olympic cycle, forming a generation for the future. I spent four years there, and also played for Jagodina on dual registration, and those years formed me as a player and as a person. I was there when I received my first invitation to the national team,” says Medved.

Even though Medved spent almost her whole career playing abroad, there was one specific moment happening to her to make her back to her home country for another two years.

“In 1994, it was my first move abroad with my sister Nina, who was a left-handed right back. We moved to Spain to Arrate Eibar – oh, what a feeling that was. I learned new lessons and gained more confidence. But at the time I met Gregor, my husband, and leaving him was really hard for me. I wanted for him to join me, but the visa system was hard, and we were fighting hard for it. A few months later we decided we wanted to go back to Serbia and I joined Dunav osiguranje Somobor, a team that came all the way to the finals of the EHF Cup Winners' Cup. In 1996 we got married and since that moment, he went everywhere with me'', adds Medved.

Left back Medved spent almost her whole career playing abroad before retirement in 2010. For 13 years she has been competing in the EHF Champions League, she was part of one of North Macedonia's best women's clubs, Kometal Skopje, in Spain with Milar L'Eliana Valencia, Sagunto and Ribarroja won multiple championships, cups and Supercups, the French championship was won with Metz Handball, played at strong SK Aarhus and Zajecar at the end.

“Gregor and I spent 10 years in Valencia, and it is our second home. However, we were nostalgic, and we always knew we wanted to come back to Novi Sad. My family is my fortress, my source of strength and energy to overcome all problems. That's also one of my mottos, overcoming problems strengthens you.”

Tatjana Medved was Serbia's team captain with more than 120 caps for the national team. Playing at the EHF EURO 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2008, winning the bronze medal at the IHF Women's World Championship in 2001, makes her very passionate about talking about it. And there is one thing she never accomplished.

“For me, Olympic Games are one dream that never came true. When my generation started, it was still a war, and we could not have normal development in sports and national teams. I wish the war never happened. It brought evil and bad things to many people and took away childhood for many generations. For example, I played for three countries under one passport: FR Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia. Sang two anthems under one national team jersey. It was really hard because when you are wearing your national team jersey, you feel pride and privilege. All those things were emotionally hard on me,” says Medved.

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Throughout her whole career, Medved knew she had to think about what will come next. She started her education at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education in Novi Sad and graduated. Her husband Gregor and she were handball agents while living in Valencia, and she was thinking about becoming a coach and had different views on handball but there was one thing Medved wanted the most. Becoming a mother.

“At the end of my career, I was thinking about becoming a coach. I believe I have the knowledge and credibility for something like that. There was an idea to start coaching in Zajecar when I finish my career, but it never happened. Children were my soft spot and becoming a mother was my biggest wish. I had an experience with cervical cancer, lost pregnancies, and low chances of staying pregnant. That experience influenced my life. During that period, I started working as a delegate in the Vojvodina region,” says Medved about the tough period in her life.

Medved's biggest wish came true on 11 November 2011, when she gave birth to Lara – and her daughter is part of her EHF story.

“When Lara was only a few months old, my father told me the election and nominating system at the EHF was changing and tried to convince me of applying. He was a delegate for many years, and he had to re-apply, too. To be honest, being a mother of a two-year-old girl with experience from Serbia, I was not attracted to the idea. I don't know what happened that day, it was the deadline for the application, and I decided to apply. Soon I received a call from the EHF to come to Vienna for a test,” talks Medved about how she started her role as a delegate.

“I was happy but at the same time I knew I could not leave my baby girl, I was still breastfeeding and we had baptism right on one of the dates EHF gave me. I called them to say: ‘Thank you, but I will pass.’ I was shocked when they told me it was not a problem to come to Vienna with my daughter and take one person who would take care of her while I would be doing tests. So, in June 2012 my sister Nina, my daughter Lara and I went on a trip to Vienna. That's how my EHF delegate path started. Since that moment, I am very thankful to my father who gave me the idea, and to all people in EHF. The opportunity I got left me close to the handball court, where I spent 28 years.”

Tatjana Medved Delegate
Being close to the court evokes in me the same emotions I had when I was a player. And on the other hand, it allows me to maintain countless sporting friendships that I have acquired during my career. Every match is a pleasure for me.
Tanja Medved
EHF Delegate at the Women's EHF EURO 2022

It is not very often we see former players as delegates, usually, the path is taken by former referees and Tatjana Medved at the time was one of the few. Being on both sides of the court brings a special experience. Now going into her 10th year as a delegate, Medved says she has more EHF EURO experience than as a player.

“Being close to the court evokes in me the same emotions I had when I was a player. And on the other hand, it allows me to maintain countless sporting friendships that I have acquired during my career. Every match is a pleasure for me. I am extremely grateful because the EHF gave me chances both for major competitions and for many finals, derbies, and especially for participation in men's matches, where women are equalised and we are given a great incentive for equality,” adds Medved.

When Medved is not behind the desk at European matches, nor with her husband in their pub/restaurant, she can be seen all over Novi Sad doing her best in promoting handball and introducing young children to the sport. That is something she loves and the main idea behind becoming a president of the City Handball Association of Novi Sad.

“When Milena Delic became the president of the Handball Federation of Serbia, things changed and I decided to join the work. I decided to take the role just because of the idea of working with children. I believe I can contribute a lot to improving work with children in clubs, establishing good and quality cooperation between the clubs, and improving younger age categories competition. I also joined the work of the Competition Committee of the Handball Association of Vojvodina, under whose jurisdiction is the largest handball competition in Serbia for younger age categories,” says Medved.

“My goal is to contribute to the establishment of systematic work in all age categories, to adapt the competition system and to overcome problems that arise due to inconsistent work with children caused by the lack of quality coaches and financial resources. I would like to make a good environment for our young players so that they don't have to leave Serbia too early.”


The junior league of Novi Sad was formed for all mini-handball and youth clubs in the city. She organised educational seminars and started an international handball tournament for children, which is a combination of matches without result significance and games without borders, awarding each child a medal for participation. The main idea is to bring children closer to the fact that handball is a fun and interesting sport in which we are all winners, and that our friendships last a lifetime.

“I have already mentioned how important sport is, but it is certainly never enough to point out how much it contributes to each child's development. Creating healthy habits, gaining self-esteem, strengthening personality, creating friendships, distinguishing good from bad, whether they decide to continue playing sports professionally or not. The biggest problem today are over-ambitious parents, who look for their achievements in their children and thereby deny them to be happy in what they do,” says Medved.

What is the message Medved has for all handball and sports fans?

“What I would say to my younger self, my daughter or young players is, from the first day, when you decide that this is your direction, your life path, give 100% in every opportunity,” she says. “Strive to become a national team player with all your efforts and work and that you always play with all your heart on the court, especially when you put on the national team jersey.”

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