Yevgeniy Trefilov: “My dear ones, I simply must pick on you!”

Information Service of Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) talked to the head coach of the Russian Women’s National team Evgeny Trefilov before the start of the European Women’s Handball Championship that will take place in Hungary and Croatia. The conversation turned out to be frank and emotional. However, as are all  interviews with Yevgeniy Trefilov.


“I am often accused of  saying bad things about the Russian handball. But the thing is that I’m telling the truth. The truth is that now our sport is going through hard times, to put it mildly. Women always go after the men. Girls try to reach men’s results and not to give in. So, unfortunately, the trend is as follows: after the downturn  in men’s handball, the women’s handball is also going through a hard period.

Here is a list in front of me. There are only 28 names in it. That’s hardly enough for  one team. At that we are taking some athletes from the youth team. Unfortunately,  nowadays the number of people involved in handball has decreased dramatically. Due to the reduced amount we get poor quality output. “Hopefully, we will be able to correct the situation in the nearest future.


Talking about the today’s possibilities of the Russian Handball players on the world stage, the indicator here is the participation of the club teams in the European Cups. Almost all our men’s teams, except for Chekhovskiye Medvedi, unfortunately, get away on the first and second stage. I do not want to discuss if they are weak or strong, but today we see their real level. The same situation is with the women’s handball. There was a time when we showed good results in Europe. Talented playersarouse much interest. In Europe promising youth is watched closely. Currently our clubs and players do not cause excitement, and this is unfortunately a clear evidence of what is happening.

There is such a nasty science called statistics. It allows us to find a logical explanation to everything. Why aren’t the European clubs interested in our players? Because we don’t rise, our rating doesn’t ‘appear’ there.  We can reach the high level thanks to our youth. We shout that it [our youth] is promising, but we make very young athletes work on an equal footing with the Senior team …  And that’s not the way it should be!  For example, Anya Vyakhireva, born in 1995, attended the training camp before the European Championship. She has already been years playing in the adult team during 3-4. But the fact is that she has not yet matured as an experienced player, she can break down at any moment. Thus  our young athletes are considered promising, but then the problems begin. We must sit down and discuss these issues in detail. And we are not doing that.


We have 4 days to build a national team. This time is not enough. First day is a  training day. The next day is used to equip the team. Then go education and training activities and so on. There is simply no time to prepare the team for an important match. At the same time, we hear: “Foreigners live in accordance with such schedule.” I have one comment: “Players of our youth teams often come to the training camp with serious injuries. When  Danes or the Dutch lose the youth games   they are told: “It’s okay, keep working!” If we lose – it is a tragedy. We have to treat our young athletes more carefully, and then the results will come.

Psychology is a very serious matter. I am constantly faced with this. Women, in most cases, adopt a stay-at-home lifestyle. Woman is used to have her own table with her perfume bottle and her favourite jam on it and so on. If the training camp lasts for more than two weeks it’s a kind of a ‘small disaster’. That’s why, it is necessary to give her at least one day to go to see her family, and then 2-3 training days, and this is it the training camp is over. Thus in fact, we do everything on the run.


Now we have two equal goalkeepers – Masha Sidorova and Anya Sedoykina. Anya has a little kid, so I am doubly grateful to her for finding time to recover, resuming her training and performing in the national team. We have a number of young goalkeepers, on whom we also count. I like the desire and commitment of each of our girls, this we’ll ‘keep your nose to the wind’.

There should always be leaders in the team at least one. I invited to the training camp  before the European Championship, the girls who had already proved themselves at the previous European and global scale tournaments. For example Katya Malinnikova and Sedoykina, and Sidorova, as well as Ira Bliznova and Yana Uskova. I hope that these girls will form the backbone of our national team. We really need experienced handball players  at the site.  The examples are not far to seek. Here is one. Oksana Romenskaya, Nadya Muravyova and Irina Poltoratskaya were playing in our national team- each of them was a kind of ‘striking force’, ready to strike at any moment of the match. Of course, all of them were women of character. They could have come to me to express their positions and views. Sometimes we even argued, but that’s the beauty of it. We could fight, get angry at each other, but then again we came together to work towards our common goals. And in the end those working moments, that we talked about gave a positive impetus and result.


Before the European Championship we have a goal – to win medals. However I always try not to say that aloud. Yes, perhaps it’s a sports superstition. We must try to quietly put our plans into effect. When we were young, sometimes we played cards. It was believed that luck came to those who ‘cried for the cards’: “I don’t have good cards! Things look blue.” But then he suddenly wins. Therefore, we try to be extremely careful in this regard, because I think that someone is watching us from above. Once you boast you can endanger the success.

Of course, we are faced with serious challenges. Europe allows us to qualify for the Olympic Games and go to the World Cup next year without qualification. So when athletes sometimes think: “Why is he picking on us?” – I immediately comes the answer: “My dear ones, I simply must pick on you!” – Because we all have to work hard.


Remember, there was a World Championship before the London Games. When we played with the Angola National Team of, before the match the light went off at the site for 5 – just imagine! – 5 times. The Anthem started to play in the dusk. I literally ‘kicked’ the team out for  a warm-up. Angolan women are strong enough, almost like Serena Williams (he laughs). I knew that if we lose, we’ll find ourselves in the same group with France, Spain and Croatia, and only 2 teams will go on. Therefore, we had to win. And we won… And when you play with the grandees, noone knows how everything will turn out. Well, who would have thought that we would lose the Holland in Russia? Nobody!  It was a devastating loss. That’s why I say, “better safe than sorry.” 

After London … such a mark… it’s still very hard… Do you remember the movie The adjutant of his excellency? In this movie ‘hegemon came, and everything went crash!’ The same with me…  After London everything went to hell. You must keep trying, there’s nothing else to do. Sport is a core motivator. We really want to rehabilitate ourselves and we will make every effort to do it.


As for the European Championship,  it will also be very difficult for us.  Hungary will host it. Nowadays in Europe priority is mainly given to Scandinavian teams and Germany. I’m not saying that these team are favorites, but still there are some blocks.  Iceland and Holland teams are now close to Norwegians. Teams Germany, Spain and France also have serious power. In general, the continental championship promises to be very intriguing and at the same time complex.”

It should be noted, that  the first two matches the Russian team ended in a 29-29 draw against the host of the championship, the Hungarian national team, and lost to Spain by 1 goal.