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01/01/2018 13:54
Getting to know – 2017 European champion and Developres captain Jelena Blagojević
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Rzeszow, Poland, January 1, 2018. There is no denying that Jelena Blagojević, the captain of the team, is one of the best players on the roster of Champions League rookies Developres SkyRes RZESZOW this season. However, on top of her Volleyball skills, there are a few more things that you should know about such a talented player.

So, let us start from the beginning – Jelena Blagojević was born on December 1, 1988 in Olovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. As she grew up, she soon showed an interest in sports – she tried some basketball and football and she was extremely good at it. However, she was quite bored, and some of her friends, who played Volleyball, asked her to come to the practice with them. She agreed, and once she started, she already knew that this was the right path for her. “I chose Volleyball definitely because of my friends and I fell in love with that sport with the first touch of the ball. Once I started, I knew that I was going to continue, and here I am now,” she explains.

Jelena began her professional career about eleven years ago – in 2007, she signed a contract with a team from Belgrade, and that is how it all started. After spending four seasons in Belgrade, she moved to Italy – her first contract there was with URBINO, where she played for one year. After that, she received an offer from Foppapedretti BERGAMO. “It was always my dream to play in Italy, so when I signed my first contract with Urbino, I was sure that I did not only have to enjoy that time, but what is the most important – to do my best. I had a good time there, the team was special and we achieved good results. Then I spent three years in Bergamo, which I really consider as one of the best clubs in the world, and I really felt there like at home. Those three years were amazing. Playing in Italy and living there is special. People there love Volleyball so much, they are very supportive,” Blagojević said.

After that time, she moved to Turkey, and the reasons of this choice were purely financial: “I had a good offer and it was the main reason why I went there. It was a good lesson for me to learn that money is not everything. I was sad when leaving Italy, but sometimes we need to move on, to do that step. Playing Volleyball as a pro is also about money, so sometimes you have to do what is better financially, so that was the reason.”

One year there, and then, in 2016, it was time for a new experience, which was her transfer to Poland. Jelena signed a contract with Chemik POLICE, the best team in Poland. “I knew that people here love Volleyball. A lot of them follow our sport not only when it comes to the national team, but to the national leagues as well. I went to Chemik mainly because my friend Stefana [Stefana Veljković] shared many good things about that club with me. The other reason was that we wanted to play together. We always were together, like in the national team, in Italy, in Turkey. Therefore, when she said to me that Poland is a good place to live and play Volleyball, I chose Poland. I feel really good here, so I think I made a good decision.”

In 2017 came an offer from Developres SkyRes RZESZOW. After some thinking and a talk with Adela Helić, Jelena made the decision to move to southern Poland. Why? Because of the coach. As she admitted, Blagojević has a lot of respect towards Lorenzo Micelli, and she regards him as a very good coach. What is more, she loves working with Italian people, because they really love Volleyball and their style of working is special. After that, a very important thing was the club’s goals. Last year RZESZOW played for the medals and this year they created a good group of players, so the team have some high goals, including their ambition to play in the finals of the national league. Jelena felt some positive energy from Adela after the time she spent in Rzeszow. “It is always easier to choose when you speak to someone who has this experience on site,” she said.

The fact is that this year’s roster from Rzeszow is not only full of good players, but some good friends as well. The girls get along well with each other, which, to Jelena’s mind, is very important. “Maybe we are not the best players in the world, but we are a good group, and it may have an impact on the results. However, as I said before, I really like this group of players, we are so much together, when we need to decide something and on the court as well, we fight together and I really enjoy this positive energy. Of course, playing Volleyball is about the technical abilities, about the tactics, but being a strong group of friends makes a big difference in team sports,” she explains.

As many know, Blagojević is the team captain. As she claims by herself, she is very proud of that: “It means a lot to me that the coach and the girls trust me that much. However, it is really easy to do my job as a captain when having such a great group.”

Let us now move off the court. Jelena is a very passionate person – one of her hobbies is photography: “When I have some free time I like to go somewhere and take some photos. In this last period, unfortunately I did not have a lot of time. Photography is something that helps me relax. When I go somewhere to visit a new place, and I see something interesting, I like to take a picture of it, because when I have this photo with me, I can relate back to that moment.”

She likes spending her free time with friends from the team: “I have good friends like Helene [Rousseaux], Agata [Sawicka], Adela, so we usually go outside to walk and they show me new places.” Jelena admits that she has some favourite places in Rzeszow, like Kawa Rzeszowska (a coffee shop) or Radość (a very famous restaurant in town). However, what she misses here is…Starbucks. “I really like Starbucks – to sit there, to watch people. When I came here, I asked Adela: ‘Do you have Starbucks?’ and she said: ‘No, but we have something better’, but I was like ‘no, there is nothing better’. Obviously, I have some places in Rzeszow that I really like, but Starbucks is special because of having this specific atmosphere,” she said.

Blagojević is still a student at a Serbian university. “Lots of my free time I spend studying, because I have to finish university. Sometimes it is hard as I am far from the university and I cannot follow every class, so I am always a step back. However, I am trying to do my best because I really like my university and want to finish it. After ending my professional career, I want to stay in sport somehow,” she concludes.

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