Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Robertina Meceska: I’ve looked death in the eye, now I put my entire heart in handball

I wish to go back to handball with all my heart. I want to be better than before, that's my goal, as well as to conquer Mount Everest. I am not giving up on Macedonia, I am not giving up on the jersey

She is famous as a fighter in the handball field, true professional outside it. After recovering from the fall of the fifth story of her building in Skopje settlement of Aerodrom, the girl from Struga who is part of Macedonia’s national handball team, is prepared for new successes and new challenges. She says that the past is in the past. She lives in the same apartment, she is grateful to God for still having a chance to enjoy life. She is active – she is preparing her own camp in Struga.

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You have been preparing to open a handball camp in Struga on 17 August. What will make your camp different? We have had several camps, those of Kire Lazarov and Lekic among them.

MECESKA: Yes, it will be the fourth camp, first camp in my handball career, but not the last one. It will the first time children will be able to learn from me. This year will mostly be with domestic male and female handball players, and the plan for next year is to bring international guests. I had the idea for the camp this summer, when I visited the camps of Lazarov, Lekic and ‘Metalurg’. One evening, as I was riding my bike to return from the camp in Ohrid to Struga, I had the idea to make my own camp. Inspired by all the fun kids have there while still training and learning, I went to ‘Majski Cvet’ recreational resort. I asked for accommodation and got down to business immediately. I am organizing this camp by myself, I am looking for the sponsors by myself, I am organizing everything. I am planning to include many gifts, boat party with buffet.

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Are children interested?

MECESKA: There are children. I still haven’t promoted the camp in the media. Lekic and Lazarov have been organizing the camps for five months, I’ve started a month ago. Many kids don’t even know there will be a camp. I have not placed any ads, except from “Facebook”, where I have been posting myself. Those who know are the ones who follow me on “Facebook” and they apply. If many children apply, there might also be a second tour.

Are there special criteria for the children from your birth town Struga?

MECESKA: Yes, the price for everyone else is 9.000 denars, while the price for children from Struga who will be accommodated in ‘Majski Cvet’ is 6.000 denars. Those children who will sleep in their own homes will be paying 2.200 denars. Everyone will have their own benefits. The children will be welcomed with music, live band. I want to start the camp with music and to end it in the same way.

I see life differently now because I’ve looked death in the eye several times. When I was in hospital I had troubles breathing, I was in pain, I spent a month in a shock room

Are your fellow handball players being supportive? Are some of them going to attend the camp?

MECESKA: There will be many guests because the camp is taking place at the same time as the traditional handball tournament in Struga. It is an international tournament attended by many good handball players and some of them will also be invited to be our guests. There will also be former and current national team female handball players, as well as potential female handball players from Metalurg. There will also be fellow female players from Vardar, if they don’t have any obligations with the club at that time. Many of my fellow female handball players who play abroad won’t be able to come. The children will be watching the tournament matches in a group. There will be a special part for the children from the camp, but there will also be fun, beach visits, visit of Vevcani Springs, sightseeing with panorama bus. There will be a trip to “St. Bogorodica” monastery. I promise it will be fun. I am looking for sponsors, I do need support. Diplomas won’t be ordinary, they will be made on hammer paper, written in indelible graphic pencil.

How did you start playing handball?

MECESKA: I have started in Struga in the far 1995, when I was 11. I wanted to play basketball. I was a huge fan of Dejan Jovanovski and his generation. One day, my grandfather was watching handball. I asked him what kind of sport is it. He told me it was handball, he explained to me how it’s played, who the players were. I remember Boro Curuleski, Tomce Petreski. This is not bad, I’ve said to myself, but I want to be a basketball player. But, there was no basketball club in Struga. When I was told there is a handball club, I’ve said to myself: “It’s OK, as long as it’s a ball…”. I was so young that I had to wait for an year, so I started training in the 5th grade. We were 50-60 kids and we were fighting to get to the ball. In the end, it was just me. Then I went to Kometal, Eurostandard, then Kometal again, I trained simultaneously in Kumanovo, then in Serbia, Turkey, Metalurg, Turkey again for several months and I ended up in Vardar.

You are now taking a break from handball. However, your devotion, fighting spirit and persistence are typical for Robertina Meceska. Do you plan to go back to handball after your accident?

MECESKA: I wish to go back to handball with all my heart. I want to be better than before, that’s my goal, as well as to conquer Mount Everest. I have had a difficult spine surgery, I have six screws and two rods which need to be removed so that I can play again. Handball is not a gentle sport as all, especially for my position – pivot. Doctor Hristijan Kostov, who did my surgery, said the rods will be removed in May. If not, he said, I will be removing them myself. When he heard I had climbed the 2.258 meters high mountain top just 4 months after my fall, he was shocked, he couldn’t believe the miracle I was. God forbid anything happens with the rods, I will be an invalid.

I am not giving up on Macedonia. I will remain to be the captain in October. I can run out in the field and score a penal. I want to be the captain and support from the bench. I also want to be an assistant-coach of the main selector who will be selected in the upcoming months. I do not want to give up the jersey. I would also like, if given the opportunity, to sign a club, Vardar for instance. It doesn’t have to be the first team, I can sign for the second team so that I can get a license. Why not also be an assistant-coach of Sime in Vardar’s second team, where I can also wear the jersey, equipment, still be member of the national team?

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Your persistence and fighting spirit have been proved with your activities after the fall – riding a bike, climbing numerous mountain tops.

MECESKA: I love conquering tops. I climbed Crn Vrv on 7 June. I’ve climbed ‘Rtanj in Serbia just now. That mountain is like pyramid. It is not too high – just 1.560 meters, but it is a challenging terrain. I have been in the mountain whole day. My legs keep swelling, my knees keep swelling. Doctors told me not to push myself. I am planning to climb Korab in September, the highest mountain top in Macedonia. Than I also plan to climb Mount Everest . If the Government supports me financially, I am ready to do it. I am grateful to God for giving me this after all, I enjoy life.

I am alive, I’m not an invalid, I have many plans, it feels great

How do you see life now, after the fifth floor fall?

MECESKA: Much better. I now look at life in a different way because I faced death a few times. During my hospital stay, I had difficulties breathing; I was in pain, spent one month in the trauma room. It was a very difficult time, I couldn’t move. After that, I spent two weeks in the trauma unit. My mother, my boyfriend, my friend Milka were of great support to me. I had the media support, the support of many friends, I read and heard that everyone prayed for me. HC Vardar and the representation also supported me. The great support made me what I am today, I thank everyone that stuck by me and loved me selflessly. I thank the entire medical staff in Skopje and Struga. I was conscious the entire time except for the first few days when I was sedated.

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I could see everything, I was aware of what is happening, I could talk but I was in great pain. I am mostly thankful to God that let me live and be healthy, made me much stronger now, gave me more positive energy, made me think of life as if there are no difficulties because all problems are minor. The most important thing is being healthy. I am ambitiously starting the life closer to God after I fell. I want to establish Handball schools, not only in Skopje but also in Struga, Valandovo, Ohrid, Demir Kapija, Vevchani, maybe in Veles as well, towns where handball has been neglected. I will try to be present everywhere a little, appoint sport professors for coaches, provide them with work program and visit the kids when I can.

You look at things differently now, disregarding problems and realizing that they are not so important in life and don’t deserve attention.

MECESKA: Of course, I don’t stress myself with anything. I am happy that I didn’t have so many injuries; there was a great probability that I would be an invalid if I survive. But I am alive, I am not an invalid, I am happy and have plenty of plans, I feel great. I wish the same to everyone – not to stress over anything, what is done is done, everyone has problems in life but we should approach them more positively. Anything can happen in life but there is no need of turning back. There is a solution to every problem. 

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By: Biljana Zafirova

Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski