EHF Grassroots Convention on January 14 in Munchen - "Handball can teach you valuable lessons for life" | Handball Planet

EHF Grassroots Convention on January 14 in Munchen – “Handball can teach you valuable lessons for life”

Taking a risk in 2009 and founding a club from scratch turned out to be one of the best decisions Nikola Maksimovic has made. The founder of HC Novi Beograd will be one of the speakers at the first-ever EHF Grassroots Convention, which takes place on Sunday, 14 January 2024, in Munich during the preliminary round of the Men’s EHF EURO 2024.

“Handball is one of the best sports for boys and girls, but it’s not just about 40×20 meters. It can teach you valuable lessons for life,” says Maksimovic. That is why he dedicated himself to bringing as many kids to handball as possible.

The Serbian coach and former player clearly defined what he wanted from a club and what should be in focus – attracting children to sport. That is why, in 2009, he decided to leave his coaching job in another Serbian club and start his own. Almost 15 years later, HC Novi Beograd is a strong handball academy, a club with a senior team, and a positive example.

“I had offers from other clubs when I left my job, but I took a risk. I believe in this project. Many of the players I used to train in that other club decided to transfer to Novi Beograd, and that is how our story started. We started in the fifth division and, in three years, managed to reach the second division. In the same year, we also started the handball academy. Today, after almost 15 years, we have more than 300 players, and some of the players we used to train are now playing in good European clubs or were part of Serbia’s national team,” says Maksimovic about the beginning of the project.

Looking back on his decision and comparing it to where they are now, Maksimovic can only be proud of what they achieved with the successful growth of children in sport and handball.

“It was a good call. I’m sorry there are not more clubs like us in Belgrade and Serbia. Not many clubs are working on expanding players’ base, to have as many kids in handball academy.”

Times are changing; technology is strongly present in everyday life. In a world of different online activities, free-time activities, and different sports, how can handball attract kids? To keep them in sports throughout their teenage years and later in life? How do you adapt your club to it? Those are just some of the questions Maksimovic will try to answer at the EHF Grassroots Convention with examples and ideas they have implemented in HC Novi Beograd.

“Competition with other sports is strong. In Serbia, in the last ten to 15 years, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and water polo have been much more successful than handball. We are doing our best to introduce handball to kids and to keep them in sports. We have our model through Physical Education in elementary schools and different actions. I consider Novi Beograd a good example,” adds Maksimovic.

Why is HC Novi Beograd successful in that field? How do Nikola Maksimovic and his associates attract and keep as many kids in handball as possible?

“With customised and amusing training, different activities and projects are interesting to kids and parents. We are working parallel to connect kids and parents to handball and make them feel part of the club. I will explain what we are doing in Novi Beograd at Grassroots, and I believe some of our projects will be interesting to the participants in Munich. They could try our example in their club, city, or country. We all come from different backgrounds and have different conditions.”

Club progress, projects, numerous age categories, and tournaments are all closely connected to finances. That is why Maksimovic considers that topic necessary for attracting kids to handball and having the means to keep them in the club.

“For example, monthly membership fees are significant for clubs in Serbia. They practically live on them. Therefore, it is important to start projects through which money can be provided to the club. With that money, again, you start new projects to attract new kids or help the current ones in the club.”

“When I came to Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2014 as a head coach, the club had only 20 boys in the academy. At the end of the season, there were more than 200. We worked in different conditions than in Serbia or from what they have in Scandinavia, France, Germany, and elsewhere. It is important to point out examples of how to work wonders and have many kids in the academy in different conditions and possibilities, even if you think it’s almost impossible,” explains Maksimovic.

Former Georgia national team head coach and current Serbia’s youth national team coach has a strong belief that children are the future of our sports. Maksimovic has been raying kids from mini handball to the senior stage and can give insight right from the court.

The EHF Grassroots Convention is essential for handball. Children are our future, and we need to be dedicated to them. Also, we need to give something new, interesting, and with a new vision to compete with other sports. I am honoured to be a speaker in Munich, tell our story, and share my vision.”

For more information or to register for the first EHF Grassroots Convention, click here.

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