From a singing little girl to the top of handball

From a singing little girl to the top of handball
photo: Tamás Csonka

photo: Tamás Csonka

Was born in the capital of Croatia, has grown up in a big, happy family, she graduated in economy-finance, wanted to be a singer as a little girl, but luckily for us handball-lovers she ended up in the goal of Lokomotiva Zagreb as a teenager and she is still keeping the handball goals in different arenas throughout the world. Is used to live abroad, but misses almost always family and friends, her moms fried pancakes with chicken calling her home from time to time.

Gruba ( her friends, collegues, teammates and family calls her) is a sporty girl when it comes to outfits, but there are days when running shoes must be changed to high heels and handball jersey to an elegant dress. We are women after all, and that must be shown from time to time…

After five years spent in Ljubljana, as Krim player, Jelena Grubisic (..yes we are speaking about her) had to make one of toughest and biggest decisions of her career and private life, when the offer from Győr came this august. She arrived to Győr to win Champion League, is aware of the fact at this demands hard work, but she says that her mentality is one of her strengths.

Timeoutmagazin had the opportunity to talk with Gruba, about her career, her life, her feelings and thoughts about everything is going around when we trie peaking into the everydays of a busy handball player.

About family, Croatia, school and the beginnings

“I was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1987. My parents and my older sister are my biggest fans, my biggest support, they are everything to me and I love them so much. I had a great childhood growing up with my older sister and a lot of cousins, relatives around me cause I have a big family.  We are all very close so I keep a lot of good memories about those times.

“My family learned me the values of life and I can just say that I am gratefull to have them. I speak English, a bit of German as I learned it in school and a bit of spanish through tv-series and now I am learning Hungarian.

“I study economy- finance in Zagreb. I graduated and now I am on master-degree but this year it would be very hard to study with a lot of games and traveling so this year I decided to take a break from studies, which is actually a relief.

“When I was a little girl I always wanted to be a singer, I was always singing around the house (..laughing..) but everything went different when at primary school there was a handball legend, Rudolf Carek – who was also my professor and he sent few of us to handball club Lokomotiva to see if we will like it. And so I started to train when I was 10 years old and I am still here (..smiling..) I spent eleven years in my home club Lokomotiva, then 5 years in Krim Ljubljna and now I am in Győr.”

Arena Zagreb, venue for EURO 2014 and Croatian team

Arena Zagreb, venue for EURO 2014 and Croatian team

About idols, favorites in sports, books, movies, spots

“My idol… hm… when I was younger I watched more mens handball, so I liked Thomas Swenson a lot. And later, during the years I can say that Luminita Dinu was one of my favorite goalkeepers. I cannot choose any other sport as favorite. I really like all the sports and I watch a lot of different sports on TV, football, tennis, waterpolo, basketball. As to choose a favourite athlete is impossible for me, there are too many excellent athletes in all sports whom I admire…

My big dream is to visit New York. I like this city a lot and people say it „never sleeps“. Also there is a lot of things to see/do, different cultures, nations all mixed together so I think it would be fun and interesting to see all of that. I like to travel so there are also a lot of other places I would like to visit but NY is on top of the list right now.

My favorite book is Alchemist from Paulo Coelho and the movie Tango and Cash (..big smile..). I used to watch this movie with my father and sister when I was younger, I watched it for sure more then hundred times since then, but I still enjoy it .

My favorite food is my moms fried pancakes with chicken. They are soooooo good, I miss her food a lot!”

About the life and work (play) abroad, homesickness

“I live and play abroad now for six years. At the beginning it was hard to leave home and live alone but after a while I got used to it and now at the moment I cannot imagine moving back home. But of course it is nice to come home and visit my family and friends and of course there will be a time when I will go back to my home town.

“I have never played so far from Zagreb so maybe I cannot talk about being abroad cause I am visiting my home very often.When I was in Ljubljana then I spent a lot of time home. At some moments I miss everything from home, but this is my life, I choose this and so far I cannot complain about homesickness.

High heels and dresses photo: győriaudietokc

High heels and dresses
photo: győriaudietokc

Best memories on handball-court, plans and ambitions

“Olympic games and different championships with the national team. Also during my years in Lokomotiva winning the Croatian championship and Cup – after many years of Podravkas domination and also a lot of great memories with Krim especially semifinal of the CL (2012/2013).

“My ambitions and wishes are huge. With Győr I want to win Hungarian championship , cup and also to repeat the same result in CL as the years before! And with the Croatian national team I wish that we finally make a good result because we play at home and I hope people will come and support us all the way.

About accepting Győr’s offer, the real story

“Well… this is the story. I got an offer from Győr at the beginning of August as I started to train with Krim. It was a very hard decision in one way and very easy in other. I needed to decide in two days if I will stay or leave.

“Győr has already started preparing twenty days earlier and I just started the workouts with Krim. I was with my head already in Krim eventhough I didn’t sign the contract yet. I was talking with my family and also people from handball and at the end I decided to go.

“From one side it was very hard to leave Krim because I spent there five great years – both in handball life and outside the court. But from the other side I was honoured and pleased that a club like Győr is calling me, that I have this oportunity to be part of the team that won CL title two years in a row and to play and work with all those great players and coaches.

“Of course I was talking to some players who already played in Győr and also to Vesna (Milanovic Litre) because she started at the beginning of the season with them and everybody said all the best about the club , making my decision easier.

Grubisic and Lunde photo: Bach Péter

Grubisic and Lunde, photo: Bach Péter

About filling Katrine Lunde’s shoes

“Coming here to replace Katrine is really not an easy role. We all know that she is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and I will have a really hard job. I understand that fans and people around club expects a lot from me and to do the job like she did. All I can say is that I will give my best, to work hard and try to be good and fullfill the expectations.

“For now I am still not satisfied with my performance, it can always be better but I think  it is getting better then it was in the beginning. I hope that I will be in good shape for the CL and that everything will fall to its place. Katrine is still coming to the trainings and she helped me a lot with her advices and her support since I arrived. I am just thankfull to her and also to all other players and coaches for helping and supporting me in the process of being a usefull brick of their team.

“But I am not the only goalkeeper, luckily I have Orsolya Herr by my side and I believe that we will make a great team together in the goal!

First impressions about her new team, coach, playing and training systems, fans

“What can be the first impressions about the club that won two CL titles in a row, played a lot of CL finals, with a big tradition and lot of great players? I am honored and pleased to be here. I can say all the best about the girls and coach, they accepted me really quick and helped me a lot. They are all big proffesionals who are doing their job the best that they can, the atmosphere in the team is really good and I am happy to be here.

Every coach has his system, the way of work and everywhere you learn something new and different. But everywhere you come you need to give your maximum, do the best what you can and what is expected from you.

Grubisic and Herr photo: Back Péter

Grubisic and Herr
photo: Back Péter

“Handball fans in Győr? One of the best I have ever seen! They are great support to the team, they could be found in every European hall. Huge respect!

About relaxing, outside handball- favourite job

Gruba has some favourite spots in Zagreb, her home-town, where she likes to spend the time with close friends and company, enjoying long conversations with good food and music. In Győr she is still looking for the favourite spot!

“My day outside handball-hall: relaxing and enjoying the time with friends. I cannot imagine a day without hanging out with my friends because I don’t like being alone . Just not that type of person. I enjoy being around my people … and having fun with them.
I hope I will still play handball a few more years so I am not thinking yet about a job after career!!!”

We are glad that your plans are still handball related, because we cannot imagine you in the finance least for now!

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Hungarian living in Norway with a great passion for handball, primarly women handball. Travels all over the world to follow handball matches and tournaments and to write good articles on this website.

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