Zagreb, Croati. At the end of April, and more precisely on April 27, just before the start of the preparations for the national team season, the setter of Croatia, Lea Deak, will turn twenty-one years old. She very much hopes to celebrate her birthday at home with her family, especially because the season she has spent in Switzerland with Volero ZÜRICH will not be one to remember. Not because of the game or the results, but just the opposite – because the championship could never really take off.
“The national league is currently at a standstill, but as things stand, and time goes by, I do not think it will resume and continue, just like last season, when it also stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Lea says. “After the stop to the championship, we went to France, where we trained together with Volero Le Cannet and RC Cannes, which helped us keep fit, but as nothing happened in Switzerland regarding the continuation of the championship, we ended up returning home. Now we train here, we play some friendly matches, but that is not the right thing to do. In Switzerland, as in most European countries, a lockdown is in force, everything is more or less closed, and you cannot go out anywhere,” she continues.
That is why Lea is even more looking forward to the gathering of the Croatian national team, which is due to compete on three fronts this summer; in the European League, namely the Golden League, in the FIVB Challenger Cup and especially at the European Championship in August, with Zadar being one of the host cities. “I cannot wait to see my teammates from the national team and play some games. I just hope the coronavirus does not spoil that pleasure for us,” she says.
After such a rocky year with very little competition, it is not easy to say whether she is in form or not at this stage. “It is difficult for me to assess it myself, because we actually played only three official matches, but I think I have progressed this season. There was plenty of time for individual work, and my coach, Svetlana Ili?, is a top expert so I am pleased with my progress. That is why I look forward to showing everyone at home how much I have improved. I know that there will be a lot of pressure as far as the results are concerned, but I am preparing for that.”
Lea, just like her former club teammate from Mladost Zagreb, middle blocker Božana Butigan, is studying at the Edward Bernays College of Communication Management. It is her second year, there are two more exams left until the end, so everything is going well in that area. What about languages? “People speak German here in Zurich, so I enrolled in that language in college, but I am not that satisfied with my progress. I have roommates from the Balkans, so we do not communicate in German, and everyone in the club actually speaks English. However, as I have a contract for next year, I will certainly make progress in that area too,” Lea concludes, while looking forward to the many exciting challenges that lie ahead.