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05/09/2019 23:00
Fisherman and captain Urnaut waiting to catch his European ‘big fish’
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Men

Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 5, 2019. If you were looking for a surname most closely related to Volleyball in Slovenia, you would have to go to the far north of the country right near the border with Austria. To the city of Ravne na Koroškem, more precisely to the town of Kotlje near Ravne. It is home to a large and diverse Urnaut family, whose name is the first association in all of Slovenia with Volleyball. The family has given two national team captains, with Tine, the most successful in recent years, leading Slovenia at a historic EuroVolley held on home soil in a few days only.

“Uh, I probably do not even know how to list everyone in our family who has Volleyball written in genes one way or another. Certainly, my father Adi, former Yugoslavia’s excellent national team player is here, as the best World Championship spiker in the year 1962 in the Soviet Union. My mom Anita was in the national Sitting Volleyball team for a long time. My brothers Andrej and Matjaž were national team players as well, now they are coaches, their children are all in Volleyball, nephew Aljoša is successful in both Volleyball and Beach Volleyball,” Slovenia’s captain Tine Urnaut explained on his 31st birthday shortly before EuroVolley 2019 begins.

He adds that father Adi is his biggest fan and critic at the same time, even though Volleyball was a very different game in his time. “It always seems unbelievable for example when my father explains how long he resisted to using footwear in the Yugoslav national team. If I am not mistaken, he played barefoot at the 1962 World Championship as the last player to do so, after that he just wore his first sneakers. He was not used to using shoes for a long time. It is really amazing to imagine that today.”

In the coming days, when Ljubljana will host EuroVolley 2019 matches, the Urnaut family will cheer for Tine close to the court. “There will be a lot of people coming from Ravne, which is a Volleyball town, and from Carinthia region all around. I will have fans from my town as well as from my house at all matches. Dad will definitely be at all the matches, including other family members such as my grandparents, uncles and aunts, who will be supporters for Slovenia from the first rows in Arena Stožice,” says Urnaut, who has been wearing Slovenia’s jersey for 15 years, looking forward to the biggest challenge in the national team.

At the age of 16, he made his debut for Slovenia. “Slovenian Volleyball has taken a huge step forward from my beginning. Playing the European Championship in front of the home supporters, however, will be a unique challenge for me, and at the same time I am honoured to be the captain of this team,” Urnaut continues, who believes that he will catch as many ‘big fishes’ as possible with Slovenia at EuroVolley 2019. Just like in his spare time, when he is most relieved by fishing: “I was initiated to fishing by my dad who had lectured for many years at the Faculty of Maritime Studies in Rijeka and we fished a lot together. Fishing relaxes me, calms me, I escape to my own world. I have been fishing all over the world, from a big jack fish in the Mauritius and tuna in the Seychelles, while in the Adriatic sea, my biggest trophy is a 9-kilo eel.”

Finally, Tine Urnaut’s insight into the Slovenia team a few days before EuroVolley 2019 starts: “We have some minor injuries but nothing serious, all good actually. We are all maximally motivated and we cannot wait for the beginning! We are not afraid of anyone; we respect every team in our group. This is the only way we can go far.”

Slovenia will play its first EuroVolley 2019 match next Thursday, September 12, against Belarus; Russia, Finland, Turkey and North Macedonia are the other teams due to compete in Pool C.

For further information, visit the official event website

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