A moment with ... Filip JichaArticle
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A MOMENT WITH: The Czech superstar of THW Kiel reveals his career story which saw a village boy through Swiss Alps and Arabian desert right under the spotlight of German bundesliga and the VELUX EHF Champions League.

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A moment with ... Filip Jicha

As if Filip Jicha wasn't already one of my heroes of handball, after talking with him, he has gone even higher in my estimation. He is the most down to earth guy you could ever meet, driven and always hungry for more. His story from humble beginning on an outdoor court in a small village in, then, Czechoslovakia, to the biggest handball club in the world is extraordinary. It took him through Switzerland, the UAE and back to the Czech Republic before finding his home in Germany.

“You already have a hobby”

As a small boy in the football and ice hockey mad country he played handball with his friends, in a fun way, on a pitch 300m from his flat. It was here that his love of handball was fostered. There was no tradition of handball from his parents.“Formal” training was a coach who would turn up three times a week, but young Filip played before and after until the sun went down. He was handball mad and when he asked his mother if he could play football as a hobby, she said he already had one and would have to choose between them. It was then he realised that handball wasn't just a hobby but a love, his life.

“I was the guy from the village”

He pestered a teacher in school (a former NT goalkeeper) to get him in contact with a club in Pilsen, a big city for the boy from the country. It was here that his education really started. His coach, Miroslav Moulis, had them training as much as professionals. At 15 he won his first championship at underage level, did his first TV interview and it just left him wanting more. He says he was nothing extraordinary at this stage and that no one was telling him he could make it.

“I will do it”

He played at that time with his body and heart. Always pushing himself to be better. But there was no clear pathway. He realises that maybe success might have come earlier, that he might have been noticed had he come from the more traditional countries of handball. He had dreams, he always tried to improve and moves to Qatar, at first, brought lonliness and homesickness, but he always tried to find the positives.

“My dream was to play in Bundesliga”

He achieved that at the age of 23. He moved to Lemgo, but the story of why maybe isn't well known. He could have moved to Kiel, but the driven young man wasn't happy with what his role might be. When he eventually moved to Kiel in 2007/08, as a top scorer in the Bundesliga, he found the playing situation very difficult. “It was a joke”, he says, “I couldn't do anything”. He tells great stories about his time at Kiel with Noka and later with Alfred. It's incredible to think he is now such an integral part of the machine.

This is one of my personal favourites from the “A moment with .... “ series. The young boy who made handball his life still shines through in the man who has won everything, who was named World Player of the Year in 2010. He doesn't shy away from the questions and his humility is there for all to see. His past glories mean nothing, no one gives him anything when he steps onto the court, he has to prove himself time and again. It is a must listen for all handball fans and particularly young athletes who plan a career in handball.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator