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16/05/2019 14:00
Montenegro’s Volleyball family proud of their Super Final referee
CEV Champions League Volley 2019 Super Finals

Berlin, Germany/Podgorica, Montenegro, May 16, 2019. Montenegro’s Volleyball family will feature at the historic CEV Champions League Volley 2019 Super Finals as well. Sonja Simonovska will be the second referee of the women’s final starring Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA and Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO. Moreover, she will be the ‘challenge referee’ of the men’s final between Zenit KAZAN and Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA.

It will be a great honour for the Montenegrin referee. “I did not expect it,” Simonovska said. “Some of my friends and colleagues believed in me much more than I did and do. When you do this job and if you do it well, it is somehow normal to attend some of the major competitions, but I am really surprised,” she continued.

She took up Volleyball refereeing almost by chance. “A famous referee, Dragan Grbić, asked me if I wanted to become a referee. I was still playing, but he felt that I could do it. I am not quite sure, but I think that I was the first female referee across all sports in Montenegro. It was in 1994. It was a real miracle. Montenegro was quite closed for such a thing, the question was why a woman?”

Simonovska was one of the international referees attending the Baku 2015 European Games, before officiating at the men’s EuroVolley and has been involved in Champions League for four years now.

“It was a great honour, because I found myself among the best. I also remember the World Junior Championships Final from two years ago in Argentina, between Italy and the Dominican Republic. The first referee was Kang Joo-Hee from South Korea. It was a fantastic match lasting five sets. In Santa Fe, I was referee in a derby between Brazil and Argentina; I was the first referee, and my colleague from France was the second. The atmosphere was like at football matches between the national teams of these same countries!”

By introducing the video challenge, the work of a referee has become somehow easier, but there are still situations that remain difficult to assess. “The hardest thing to make a decision about is a block-out. The challenge system has been helping us a lot, especially in men’s Volleyball, where the game is so fast. With the challenge, the work has become easier for judges, coaches, and players. It is a phenomenal thing, we are all calmer now,” Simonovska says.

Sonja has one more anecdote to share from her playing career. “Serbia’s national team player Silvija Popović, who won gold at the World Championship and the European Championship, has trained with me,” Simonovska recounts.

“Maybe I am not fully aware of the importance of the Super Finals. All of this comes to me quite naturally, because I love this job. I am here because I love Volleyball so much,” she continues.

The Volleyball Federation of Montenegro is obviously proud of Sonja Simonovska and hopes she will be refereeing at many more major competitions. “Sonja earned this honour with hard work and much love for Volleyball. It is a great success for her, but also a great honour and pleasure for the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro, because we will have our representative in the Champions League Finals,” said the President of the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro, Mr Cvetko Pajković.

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