Nataliya Derepasko about work in Fenix: "Bodniyeva didn't have to convince me for a long time. I quickly agreed"

27 June 2022
The head coach of a just created Chinese team Fenix told Handballfast about the last season in the Champions League and readiness to new challenges in the Russian championship. 
Nataliya Derepasko won the Champions League with RK Krim twice as a player. Her training career started in this Slovenian club as well. After years of work with junior teams and as assistant in core team the appointment as the head coach of RK Krim last autumn became the peak.  
Due to the efforts of Derepasko, the team got through Urosh Bregar’s resigning painless. For the first time in 9 years under her leadership RK Krim broke into quarter-final of the Champions League! The future champion Norwegian Vipers Kristiansand prevented RK Krim from coming to Final Four in Budapest. 
Despite the successes of the team, RK Krim’s management made a decision to appoint another specialist as the head coach in the new season. An experienced Balcanian, the head coach of the Slovenia national team Dragan Adzic became one.  
And Derepasko opened a new chapter in career and accepted an offer to lead an interesting project…
 — The last season became the first as a head coach for you. How does it feel being in this role?
 — At first, I was nervous about it, of course. The amount of work increased multiply compared to assistance responsibilities. But in general, I joined the process rapidly and stopped worrying. I passed this period quickly. 
 — Under your guidance RK Krim won the Slovenian championship and Cup, got to the quarter-final of the Champions League. Can this season be considered successful for the team?
 — Yes, of course. I am satisfied with the season. Though we could play some games much better, we ranked in the Champions League top 8, it’s a really big step forward for the club. 
How to evaluate the game with Vipers Kristiansand in the quarter-finale? I can say that Vipers showed everyone that it’ the best team in Europe. It would have been hard to beat them. Though we were almost holding on in the first match in the group in autumn (Vipers Kristiansand won with 27:26 score).
It was my first play in the Champions League as the head coach, by the way. I remember we even had a 8-9 goals advantage in the first period. There was a chance of success, but Norwegians analysed the situation at halftime and then showed what they really can do.  
 Did you realize at the end of last season you won’t remain as the head coach of RK Krim?
 — When I was appointed in autumn as an acting head coach for three games, I knew that the club’s management communicated with different trainers. Finally, they stopped on my candidacy, they entrusted me with the team until the end of the championship. They were searching for a suitable coach after that, with a view to the next season. So, that is how they came to Dragan Adzic.
 — Were you able to communicate with him and to hand over the work?
 — We communicated a lot with Adzic during the season, he is the head coach of the Slovenian national team. We discussed readiness of players. So, there was no necessity to catch him up on all the latest, he is perfectly aware of everything. I couldn’t tell Adzic something new. 
 — You’ve been working in RK Krim system for 17 years in total — as a player and a trainer. Were you offered to stay and continue the work?
 — Yes, I was offered to take youth team and team two. Around this time the Chinese side made contact with me. I thanked the Slovenians for everything, but refused their offer. I considered, it’s time to take a step forward. After all, I tried myself out as the Champions League team’s head coach. It’s a good time for change.
 — Am I correct in saying that an old friend of you Lyudmila Bodniyeva played an important role in making the decision? Did she find right words to persuade you?
 — She didn’t have to convince me. Lyudmila worked with these girls during several weeks. She told me how it goes, explained everything in detail. Frankly speaking, I agreed to that quickly. 
— Did the decision to move from Europe to Russia in these times caused any doubt of non-sporting nature?
 — No, I didn’t have them.
 — It is known that besides you in the coaching staff of Fenix will be included Oleg Minin and Maria Vorobyeva. Do you already work closely with colleagues? 
 — We keep in touch with Maria closely and are on the phone every day. We are preparing the program of pre-season training camp. We are in contact with Oleg as well, but he is busy with beach handball team.
There is an agreement with Lyudmila Bodniyeva that she comes and participates in training process, she will be able to help us, it’s useful for the team. I really appreciate it. But it won’t be her continuous work on full-time basis. 
 — Not only Chinese players are expected to be in Fenix. Can you open up the veil of secrecy and tell the names of Russian players, their amount and positions?
 — No, at the moment the team consists only of Chinese players. There were discussions about other players but we focused on Chinese members exceptionally. 
 — Do you have an understanding of how you are going to communicate with the players?
 — I asked Lyudmila about it in particular. It would be a new experience for me to lead a training with an interpreter. Lyudmila could cope with this, as well as Evgeny Trefilov, Nikolay Izmailov, so I’ll be able to do it. Of course, it will take more time to explain something, but it’s not a big deal. 
 — Pre-season training camp will be held in Belarus. Are you planning sparring?
 — The training camp will be held July 7-14. We’ll focus on general physical training and add handball practice. We are planning to hold a match with the youth team of Belarus on the last day. 
 — The head of the Chinese Handball Association Wang Tao at the press conference answered evasively that the main team’s challenge is the progress of the players. And the head coach will set the particular tournament goal. Can you name it?
 — Let’s see the team firstly and find out what it is capable of. Later we’ll make some plans. I know it’s a national Chinese project. I am really pleased to be offered to work with Fenix. I understand that the main and only goal at the moment is a successful performance of the Chinese national team on Asian Games in 2023. Concerning Russian Championship, we’ll set the task a bit later, when I see the wards in person. 
 — Goldhand United team, mostly composed of Chinese players, played on the Cup of Friendship in Moscow in April. Did you manage to see these matches?
 — No, I didn’t, but I watched recording of the games held by the Chinese between themselves. 
 — Can you name the characteristic features which distinguish a Chinese team from Russian or European ones, familiar to us?
 — They play in the same style with other Asian teams. The players are not so tall, but fast instead. I really like the team’s play from what I saw. I know exactly what to work on.
Photo: RK KRIM press service
Authors: Sergey Bogodukhov, M.Lyubimova
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