Lucky charms give young Slovenians wings


A strong unity - Slovenia's coaches and captain focus on their upcoming challenge

Slovenia, September 13, 2017 – Slovenia’s “golden” generation has delighted the home crowd at the FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship with stunning results and a professional approach to its performances. Key factors in ongoing success include hard work and a strong team spirit – combined with a touch of superstition.

“Over the years, we grew together to a strong unity,” said 21-year-old Slovenian captain Eva Mori. “The majority of us have known each other for five years. We feel a strong liaison.”

Part of the liaison are habits that have grown over the last three, four years. One example are their green-blue-white coloured nails. “I call them ‘lucky nails’,” explained 20-year-old outside hitter Anita Sobocan. “I keep the same colour until we lose, then I try a new one.”

Lucky nails are one of the Slovenian players' habits, here during national anthem right before a match

Another example is the team’s famous singing challenge. “It started with a forgotten water bottle,” stated Mori. “Instead of paying a few Euros into the team moneybox, we installed a singing challenge. Being late or forgetful means singing a song in front of the team.” In the beginning, we felt embarrassed. “Nowadays, everyone wants to sing,” said Sobocan.

The Slovenian locker room is another part of the successful team's story. “We like it proper and well arranged,” said setter Mori. “Shirts and towels have their exact position. Moreover, we always sit in the same places. It gives us a feeling of normality,” Sobocan added: “The locker rooms in Stozice are beautiful. We enjoy and respect them as our own kingdom.”

There is also a ritual with the so-called Swiss balls. The big, inflatable balls are used for therapeutic training. “However, we don’t really use them,” explained Mori. “But we still bring them with us for every game. Apparently, they bring good luck.”

Not always used - but always there - the "famous" Swiss ball

Back to the sporty part: aside from the lucky charms, the success of Slovenia’s U23 team leans on hard work and experience. “We all play important roles in strong club teams, in Slovenia and abroad,” said Mori. “Furthermore, we know each other since many years.”

Indeed: Lana Scuka, Anita Sobocan, Eva Mori and Maja Pahor (all of them starting-six players at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship here in Ljubljana) are all members of the “golden” generation of Slovenian women's volleyball. They won the first Slovenian women’s volleyball medal at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht (NED) back in 2013 where they finished first. A year later, Eva Mori and her teammates won silver at the CEV Youth European Championship in Estonia and Finland, securing themselves a first ever World Championship appearance in 2014 in Thailand.

A strong unity - Slovania's "golden" generation ready for their next challenge

“Our different characters form a complete team,” said Sobocan and Mori. “Some of us are crazy, some are calm, some are quiet and some are loud, some are aggressive and some are controlled. We assist and cover each other – in difficult and in fruitful moments.”

The home crowd looks forward to the next chapter in the story of Slovenia’s “golden” generation. “We want to go until the end here,” concluded Sobocan. “We love big challenges.”

Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017
FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017 - Schedule
FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017 - Teams - Volleyball
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