Five Mums in EK AT THE BALL: “The Most Important Family” | handball starting point

Source: EHF / Adrian Costeiu – On the pitch, champions decide matches by throwing the ball at over 100 km/h and scoring crucial goals. Or by throwing himself in the way of those shots. Off the court, they are stars who work hard and prove that women don’t have to choose between their career and motherhood. In fact, they can have both and pass all the tests and challenges with flying colors.

And they’ve proven it time and time again at Euro 2022 so far, in candid moments with their children after giving everything they could on the pitch. That hug, that warmth, that split second when everything seems to stop? Absolutely invaluable.

“The most important thing for me is the family. Handball comes next, I’m happiest when I have the ball in my hand. But all I do is for my family,” says Estafana Pullman after two years of knee injuries. Handball again, because I wanted to prove to my family and myself that I can do it. With every challenge you face, there is a great opportunity to overcome it and improve.”

Peace of mind

Pullman’s daughter Ghislaine is with her for the second time at the European Championships. She is back again with her grandparents, just as she was in France four years ago. Pullman cherishes every moment she spends with her daughter in her spare time. In Skopje, where the Netherlands played the preliminary round and began their series for the main role against Germany on Friday with a stunning 28-36 loss, Pullman’s parents help take care of Jeslin, giving the Dutch star peace of mind during the tournament.

“Of course you have to juggle a lot of things, especially organizing everything,” says Pullman, who is married to former international footballer Raphael van der Vaart. “My husband also has a son, and we had to arrange a lot, because he will also work in the World Cup. But believe me, it’s worth it,” adds Pullman.

for travel

So, what are the main challenges for a handball player to balance career and motherhood? The hardest thing in handball is traveling, according to Norwegian goalkeeper Catherine Lundy. With a prominent role for Champions League winner Vipers Kristiansand and defending champion Norway, Lunde is one of the most capped players in handball history. But Lundy’s main job is to be the mother of seven-year-old Atena, who has been on the goalkeeper’s mind since last month after he left home for training camp and the final tournament of the 2022 European Championship.

Photo EHF kolektiff

“I’m thankful and happy to be a mother and a player at the same time,” says Lundy. “This time it was quite a challenge, because it’s been almost a month since I saw my daughter.” “Both the club and the Norwegian Handball Federation have allowed me to spend as much time as possible at home. It is very difficult to fit in without your child around. But technology has made it easier. We are always in touch, talking on the phone and sending a lot of messages, So we are taking good care of this point.”

I tried to come back in the best shape (from a knee injury) and start handball again, because I wanted to prove to my family and myself that I could do it. With every challenge you face, there is a great opportunity to overcome it and get better. / Estafana Pullman

While Lundy has yet to see her daughter in person, Montenegrin playmaker Milena Rajicevic was close to her son in Podgorica, where the co-hosting home defeated opponents to reach the main role in Skopje. Rajicevic returned to play a few months after the birth of his son Vuk, in March 2021, and played again in both the Champions League and the Montenegrin national team.

How exactly has her life changed? “I know how important a mother is because I lost my country when I was 14. So I really wanted to be a mother and when that happened it was one of the best days of my life. Everything changed in a second and had a different meaning,” says Raisevich. After every Montenegro match in this European Championship, Raisivic appeared in the mixed zone with her son Vuk, as happily as possible. While fans did their part to present at the all-sold Moraca Arena, Raisevich had two special guests in the stands: her son and husband.


“I know a lot of people say it’s hard to play handball or work after giving birth. But for me it’s just the opposite. My family is everything to me, I love my son so much and it’s really easier to play. It’s my team, but also my family, which is something Very important. It just helped me discover something I didn’t know existed.”

Photo EHF kolektiff

Romanian playoffs Laura Prestavita and Slovenian right-hander Barbara Lazovic are also finding their strength in getting their kids close to them at Euro 2022, giving them the sheer strength and motivation that pervades the stands. Little ones may not be interested in the game of handball yet; Lundy says her daughter always asks where her teammates are and wants to talk to them. “I want to be a role model, but I want her to choose her own path,” says Lundy. “I try to be the best I can for her and always tell her to be true and loyal to herself. I think that is the best advice a parent can give.”

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Photo EHF kolektiff

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