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Every single point has been hard-earnt

2021. June 08, Tuesday 15:09 | Talent Development

The men's team of NEKA could celebrate an outstanding success, winning his men's second division (NB I / B) Western group for the first time in the history of the academy, thus gaining promotion for the first division, the top tier of Hungarian handball. Head coach László Sótonyi highlighted in his evaluation among other things the immense amount of work and training based on a conscious way of play, and stressed that they would be preparing for each match with maximum effort again next season.

–      Had the team started their league matches in September already in the hope of earning promotion, or did it only come into the picture when you were seeing the results?

–      At the beginning of the season, the target had been set to finish in the top four, promotion was just a dream, a secret goal that we were only talking about among ourselves. The boys had been encouraged to always focus only on the daily work and the upcoming match, not least so because of the uncertainty and difficulties caused by Covid. Fortunately, we managed to handle the situation and the team in such a way that we finally reached our goal, I consider this to be a huge feat, a dream come true. I would like to emphasize that this is not a success that was handed to us on a silver plate, but the result of a lot of work, we worked hard for every single point – started head coach László Sótonyi his annual evaluation.

–      You took over this team three years ago. Could it be said that the work invested has come to fruition? 

–      Yes indeed, this success includes not only the work done this year, but also what had been completed last year and the year before. The guys would work very hard, train highly motivated, had improved a lot, and I am very happy that it has resulted in a championship title. We have had matches where I have seen each player stand on the court the way it is drawn on the board, the way I want it, and solved their tasks as it should be done. We set a general principle that our defence had to function well and the goals against number had to be low. And then, we could score fast goals from that. Since there has only been one team in the second division (NB I / B) that conceded less goals than we did, and our goal difference of plus 177 is also commendable, I think we can be satisfied. And let us also mention here that Gergő Kovács finished second among the top scorers of the Western group with 138 goals.

 

–      What was the area where NEKA has grown on top of its opponents, and how could the team eventually win 21 of its 22 matches?

–      Success has got many ingredients. On the one hand, the conditional part was okay, plus it was important that we could avoid serious injuries resulting from exhaustion, we could also withstand the massive match load, we had the physical bases to play the running game that is typical of us. In addition, our group was mentally strong and motivated, the boys became more and more aware of what was happening on the court and why, they believed that they could successfully manage more complex tasks, and they also knew what they wanted. I have seen progress, for example, in the collection of mandatory points, as I no longer felt the kind of uncertain approach in these matches the way we had it a year ago, for example. While we have grown particularly to meet the challenges presented by key matches on every occasion.

–      Where can you see clear improvement and how can further progress be made?

–      Understanding the technique, the tactics, the game are all areas where we have evolved, it seemed that the players enjoyed what they were doing because they knew their job within the system. This was especially clear to see in man disadvantage scenarios, but the same can be said about other situations as well. Of course, there is still room for improvement, we are young, there are significant reserves in the team, especially regarding their physical abilities, as a boy will typically become a strong man, a complete adult player at the age of 24 or 25. But there is also room for improvement mentally, technically and tactically. And if our progress continues, I am sure we will stand our ground in the first division (NB I), too.

–       Several members of the team graduated from secondary school this year. How important is it to “educate” young people and prepare them for professional sports?

–      Consciousness not only matters while playing, but also in other areas of an athlete’s life, such as eating and relaxing. Steering them out of their youth into adulthood is not easy, but we try not to keep the children under cover, but to prepare them for the future and give them the foundation at the academy to thrive in a new environment.

–      The players form a great community, they not only meet during training sessions, but also live, study and play sports at NEKA. How much has this situation contributed to their success?

–      My philosophy goes like this: the team is above all, and it cannot be overwritten by a player – everyone here with us realizes and knows this. We must work together in this spirit; we have no other way. If we look at the individual skills of the players, we were not the strongest team in the second division (NB I / B), and neither are we going to have next year such players who can decide the outcome of matches by only their own brilliance, so we trust in teamwork, the performance by joint effort, we believe in the system where everyone has his own specific role. Of course, many people have assisted us in our efforts throughout the year, we thank the work of the professional staff and the support of everyone, we want to prove ourselves next season as well.

 

Márton Dely, team captain: „One of the biggest strengths of the team is that we have been playing together for a long time, we are used to each other’s plays on the court, we have a very good system that has given our game a solid foundation throughout the year. From the beginning of the season, we have built on our strong defence, the goalkeeper performance behind that as well as on the fast breaks, and thanks to these we won a lot of matches. Due to the coronavirus, many of our matches were cancelled last minute, players dropped out, there was a lot of uncertainty, which made it much harder to prepare our minds, plus the match schedule got very tight in the spring, but we finally have managed to overtake all the obstacles.”

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