Q: Nikola, it seems that you had a special connection with your father. If you look back, how did he influence on you to become one of the world’s best handball players? Was being a handball player himself enough of a good reason that you went down the same path?
Firstly, the fact that my father was himself an international player who played for ex- Yugoslavia and participated at the Olympics in Moscow, gave me a lot to look up to. I really wanted him to be proud of me as a handball player. Also, my father was my sport teacher at school and my handball coach in my club until I was 15 years old, so he helped me in many ways.
He helped me during my trainings, always trying to find new exercises, always being supportive and challenging me since I was always asking for more. And then when I began my pro career at the age of 18, he was my first fan, my agent and my personal coach, always giving me the best advices, always making plans, preparing my games and analyzing them.
Therefore, I had a big advantage in my life having my family and my father always by my side.
Q: From what is known, your father was quite involved in your process of becoming a successful handball player. Would you say that it is important for a young talent to have parents that are greatly involved in their trainings? Or should they leave that to the trainers? What kind of parental support is in your opinion the most beneficial one?
I really think that, for a child who is involved in sport and aspiring to become an athlete, it is really important to have somebody on your side that helps with good advices.
But it’s even more important not to have somebody giving you the wrong advices. I have seen so many young players and kids in all different sports being told wrong things by parents or relatives because they had the wrong motivations. In the end, for the parents I think that being supportive is already a huge thing for your kid.
And then, it is equally important to try also to find somebody (it can be the coach, a relative, a friend, somebody in the club ...) who can give good advices for your kid if you are not able to do it yourself.
Q: What were those life lessons and core values that Branko, your father, taught you and are of such an importance that you want your children to grow up with?
The core values that my father taught me were to respect everybody and that without hard work you cannot achieve anything. That is what I want to give forward to my kids.
Q: Your father is very missed by many but the most by your family. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the chance to meet their grandchildren. What kind of grandfather would Branko be? Loving but strict one or their partner in all their little crimes?
I miss my father every day and my whole family does too. And I am really sad that he didn’t get to know his grandkids. But I know that he was the best dad ever, that I learned a lot and I’m still learning from him. And I think that through me, my kids know their granddad.
Q: It is a close and personal question, Nikola, for the end, but would you share with us in which moments you miss your father the most?
During my dreams, he is still there with us and then I wake up.
Thank you, Nikola!