Elche's Nascimento hoping unity will take them to finals
Alexandra Nascimento has a handball CV stretching back more than 20 years, with all sorts of impressive achievements on it – 2012 IHF World Player of the Year, 2013 world champion, four-time Pan American Games and five-time Pan American champion, Cup Winners’ Cup champion, and a multiple winner of domestic titles.
Now, Nascimento is hoping that experience will help ATTICGO BM Elche to victory in their upcoming EHF European Cup Women semi-final ties against fellow Spanish side, CB Atlético Guardes, starting on Sunday 19 March (12:00 CET).
Nascimento reveals that the main strength of her team is the sense of unity.
“I believe that the main thing is the unity we have in the group, we are playing more for the team, helping each other more. In addition to good handball, a sense of unity makes a lot of difference in such an important game,” says Nascimento.
The 41-year-old right wing adds that she is hoping her experience will also help Elche to victory.
“In these ties I can make the difference when the ball comes to me. I'm going to do my best and I want to make a difference and be there to help in the decisive moments,” she says.
Nascimento says that under coach Joaquín Rocamora BM Elche have developed confidence and a desire to win.
“We want to play very well in this semi-final, our coach always tells us to give our best and that's our mentality. We go into every game to win, it's never good to go to games relaxed. We are preparing very well for Sunday's game and we will give everything to win,” she explains.
Leading on the court
Many of BM Elche’s players are at the start of their careers, with several teenagers and players in their early 20s on the roster alongside the likes of Nascimento and experienced Spaniards Nuria Andreu, Maria Flores and Ivet Musons.
But few have achieved what Nascimento has in her career; the Brazilian points to her World Player of the Year award as a particular highlight.
“I had the pleasure of being the best female player in the world, it was an impressive moment in my life,” she admits.
Nascimento joined Elche this season after giving birth to her daughter Lia; she previously played for Bourg-de-Péage in France after moving from Érd in 2020.
“The only thing I'm trying to do is give the younger ones more confidence, talk more, especially with the wingers, which is my position. And they always want to listen to me, they are warriors,” she reveals.
But Nascimento does not just talk during training sessions with her teammates. Even during games, this player makes herself heard.
“I can't stop talking when I'm playing. I always have a positive mindset and pass on confidence and security to my teammates.”
Dedication to the cause
Nascimento credits her father, Suemar do Nascimento, for her love of sport.
“I started to like sports when I was very young, my father was a professional football player and I have an older brother who also played, and my father said he had a lot of quality, he was always pushing for him. And this was my way of trying to impress my father,” she says.
“I tried several sports, but handball was what enchanted me the most. I started playing handball when I was 10 and have never stopped since then.”
Having played for clubs in Austria, Romania, Hungary and France, what impresses Nascimento most about the Spanish league is the speed of play.
“It's a very fast handball. The vast majority of players are short, but very fast. And that impressed me a lot. And now my physical part is even more important,” Nascimento points out.
Nascimento says the fighting spirit she has seen in Alicante is an important factor for players who want to reach the top.
“There are moments when we are more tired or when frustrating defeats appear but we can never forget the reason why we play handball. It's because we love this sport,” she says.
“We could be doing other things when we leave the house to go training, that's why we have to dedicate ourselves 100 per cent in training. The work and persistence to continue to learn and improve will always pay off.”
The most important, she concludes, is to enjoy what you do.
“Handball gave me everything, including my family. My husband played handball for the Chilean national team and we met at the Pan American Games. And now we have our little girl, Lia, who is six months old. When things are done with love, everything is worth it,” Nascimento says.