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22/05/2020 11:00
Volleyball player Petra Vukmirovic fighting COVID-19 on the frontline
News from the National Federations

Loughborough, England, May 22, 2020. While many elite Volleyball players have been staying at home and motivating fans to stay active and fit through their social media accounts, others – maybe far less known – have been fighting the novel coronavirus on the frontline. The story of Petra Vukmirovic has drawn much attention in England, where she now lives, as well as from people in her home country, Croatia, where she has made the headlines too.

“I have been playing Volleyball since I was 10 years old, in Croatia. It has been something that gave me strength throughout my life, something to always fall back onto and a perfect way to stay fit and socialise,” Petra recounts. “I started playing the NVL Division 2 then 1 in England when I moved to the UK in 2015. I also play and compete in Beach Volleyball in the UK Beach Tour and this year I played BUCS* for University of East London while doing my MSc.”
“I qualified in Croatia and started my Emergency Medicine specialty training in the UK. Life in the National Health System (NHS) before COVID-19 was also very, very stressful with long shift work, every other weekend and at least four nights per month. Every winter the hospital beds are full, there is a chronic lack of doctors, nurses and space in A&E**. The managers are not that supportive and as a junior doctor, you are stretched to the maximum,” Petra continues.

“To be honest in regards to being overworked, tired, and stressed I have seen worse than now during the last few winters and no-one will clap for you then, no-one will pat you on the back. COVID-19 brought in a different toll on us healthcare workers - the numbers of patients are less than normal wintertime but they are all very sick and they deteriorate rapidly. This virus is nothing like I have seen before,” says the qualified doctor.

Petra Vukmirovic playing collegiate Volleyball in England

“Therefore, even though the number is reduced, the ones there need more of our attention. Lately things have calmed down a bit, but a few weeks ago, our whole medical practice was based around COVID-19. As the virus is so dangerous, we did not want to miss it. It was stressful, as we still had to be careful not to proclaim something COVID while it was actually something else like pulmonary embolism. However, we also wanted to make sure that we capture all the patients with COVID and ask them to self-isolate. We all have learned a lot about it in these last few months and now are much more confident around it,” Petra reveals.

“The hardest part was watching young people get really sick and their loved ones could not be there to hold their hand. I had to tell a 40-year-old man he would be put to sleep, intubated and ventilated within a few hours. His face filled up with fear while at the same time I had to tell his wife to leave. They were sick, scared, struggling to breathe and far from their loved ones. It was heart-breaking to see vulnerable elderly people get ill too, as they were at high risk of death within a few days. What kept me going is exercise, yoga, talking to friends and family,” her account from the frontline of the pandemic continues.

“My enthusiasm for my new job in IT was pushing me through the hard times. When this is all over, I am looking forward to playing Volleyball and socialising more with my friends. I also want to go out to a club and dance all night!” she concludes.

Many thanks to the Volleyball England Foundation, the charitable arm of Volleyball England, for contributing to this story. For further information, visit

*British Universities & Colleges Sport
**Accident & Emergency

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