Matko Zrilić

Coach from your childhood?

I started to play handball at the age of 10 and the love for handball continues to last. I played in HC “PPD Zagreb” and then HC “NEXE”. So I learned by many coaches.

When I was younger I thought that coaches were not the best role models and that they were doing something wrong, but as time passes I like to think that everyone had good intentions and did their best at work.

These people have shown me something new and different views and I am thankful for that. Their names are: Damir Knežić, Damir Eklić, Hrvoje Horvat and Robert Papić.


The most important coaching virtues?

I would say for myself that I am compassionate, conscientious, and open to learning new things.

I also try to make players enjoy, both at practice and in the game. Each practice I show them I am there for the player, not vice versa, and I think that is what makes coaches do their job well.


Which is the most useful method of the traditional methods of handball coaching, and which of Handball Education?

For a long period, I worked exclusively with traditional methods. What is great about them is the speed of achieving the desired goal, learning to play the elements of the defense and a part of the exercise tactics.

And since I’ve been working for the last two years with Handball Education methods I have been able to see many good aspects of it.

First of all, players are not molded. They use their intellect and sports intelligence to reach their goals. When they master them, mostly by themselves, they will perform them in future without any problems because they have come to the solution themselves, no one has shown them, and they haven’t copied anyone.

You worked in different clubs with different categories of players.

I started my coaching career in HC “NEXE” from Našice. It has been the second most successful club in Croatia for the past 10 years and coaching there was a wonderful experience.

I worked with youth categories for 6 years and for the last 3 years I was a second RK NEXE coach.

I also had the chance to lead the first HC “NEXE” team in the EHF Cup. It was a great experience and I hope I will have the chance to experience something like that again.

Why are Croatians so good at handball?

We are successful in handball for many reasons.

Anthropometry plays in our favour, people here love handball and most importantly, we have exceptionally good coaches.

These are mostly enthusiasts who successfully transferred their love for handball to their players. Croatian coaches indulge themselves in a life-long learning, they deepen their knowledge and are open to learn and follow modern handball.

We also have well-organised league and children are involved in quality work since the early age.


Your goals?

I would be lying if I say that I do not dream of coaching a Bundesliga team one day.

But it makes no difference to me to shape a young person, to attract them to play handball to enjoy it. I think our task is to shape people, not just handball players.