Gawlik: “We have nothing to lose”Article
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INTERVIEW: The ambitious MKS Lublin and a Polish national team goalkeeper speaks to about the Women’s EHF Champions League season ahead

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Gawlik: “We have nothing to lose”

MKS Lublin's number one speaks to about the biggest three months of her career, the quality of goalkeepers in Poland and her passion for photography We can already count down the hours before the first Women's EHF Champions League for MKS Lublin. Your team will start the competition in Podgorica. What are your expectations and how do you estimate you chances in group B?

Weronika Gawlik: The Champions League is a big challenge for us. Unfortunately, we lost the last 'test' before going to Montenegro as our main opponent in Polish league, Vistal Gdynia, defeated us in Lublin. We are aware of the fact that the level in Champions League is much higher, we might be a little bit afraid as we have 7 new players and all our group opponents have much more experience in Europe.

Furthermore, Buducnost's newest player is Kinga Byzdra, my friend from the Polish national team, who knows everything about MKS Lublin and it might be another advantage for Podgorica. But on the other hand, we started our preparations knowing that we should reach top form in October and November so I hope it will be fine. Perhaps MKS Lublin's advantage may be the fact that you probably don't have much pressure to win the group or to qualify as it is your first Champions League after 9 years.

Weronika Gawlik: We have a great chance to show ourselves in Europe because we didn't have to face any qualification tournaments. As a player I’d like to do my best and the fact that we are not under pressure might help us. I am sure that the stress will be huge, these are the most prestigious games, but we need to be calm and focused, we have nothing to lose. It's hard to find the handball players in Champions League who are not members of their national teams.  In group B between the posts we'll find national team players from Germany, Croatia, Belarus and Poland.  

Weronika Gawlik: In our team almost everyone is playing, used to play or will play for Poland. We also have a centre back player from Belarus – Valentina Nestsiaruk. From this point of view we are equal to our group opponents, but obviously we do not have their experience on the international stage. Did you follow Women's EHF Champions League last seasons?

Weronika Gawlik: Yes, I did. I watched some games but without analysing single players or teams. I just enjoy watching good handball and observing goalies and shooters. You gained some experience in Polish national team and in Lublin, too - having played in the EHF Cup and qualification phase to the biggest tournaments.

Weronika Gawlik: Yes, I did, but now I am going to have very tough three months in which I will see how far I am from the best goalkeepers in the world. I'd like to become a calm, experienced player who almost always reaches 40% saves and if she has a good day, she is just brilliant. You have also some new roles in the team. You introduce and help the Bulgarian goalkeeper Ekaterina Dzhukeva and you started working with the keepers of MKS Lublin's second team. How do you find these new experiences?

Weronika Gawlik: Me and Kati Dzhukeva are neighbours so we meet often, we talk a lot, I help her also with the Polish language but I do it with pleasure. It's all for the benefit of the team. And it's true that I started here helping younger goalkeepers.

I also used to do it in my previous team - Zgoda Ruda Śląska  when the head coach often asked me to devote half an hour to teach something to the juniors. I can see that in Poland we don't have many goalkeeper coaches, maybe that's why when I meet young players my expectations are much higher than their real level and abilities.

I'd like to start working from the beginning with a group of kids to teach everything from scratch and not to correct some bad habits they already have. I was very lucky as a young player to have professional training sessions with Barbara Henne in Gliwice. She taught me all the basics and I am still very grateful to her. You are well known by Polish handball fans also because of taking marvellous pictures. Is photography your biggest passion?

Weronika Gawlik: I would say so and this is a passion I can share with my husband, Jacek. We do not always have enough time to take pictures, but from our last holidays we took more than 1,000 pictures and now somebody has to take care of this, improve it, put in files and work on graphics.

Sometimes we take pictures of the same objects and we can see that they are completely different. It's much more amusing than just having a walk. And it's very relaxing as well. I also tried to take some pictures during handball games but normally it's my husband's duty. It would be too strange if I had my camera behind me and tried to take some pictures when my team has the ball. What can we wish you for the following three months and a period of great intensity in your handball life?

Weronika Gawlik: I'd like to be fit and in full shape. This, hopefully, should be enough to be successful.

TEXT: Michał Pomorski / cor