By Kevin Domas
INTERVIEW While she’s just 21 years of age, the (handball) life of Meline Nocandy has accelerated a great deal over the course of these past few months.
Only two months ago, the Metz Handball player discovered what it’s like to play in the French national team, and this weekend she’s about to find out what it’s like to compete in the DELO Women’s EHF Champions League Final4. At the moment, she has no idea what to expect.
“I don’t quite realize what’s going on, but I see all the girls going crazy about it, so I assume this (the FINAL4 ed.) must be incredible, But, for now I’m not too hyped-up about it,” says the young player with a quiet voice. You may think that’s she’s joking and just hiding her excitement, not to get caught up in the moment. But, believe it or not, she remains calm and collected.
No Metz player but one – Gnonsiane Niombla – have ever travelled to Budapest to play in the Final4. Still, the likes of Gnonsiane Niombla, Laura Flippes and Laura Glauser, who have all played in the big games and their experience, are a huge help for Nocandy.
“It helps me to filter my emotions, so to speak. I feel more comfortable experiencing all these new things, knowing that I am by their side. I’m still learning as a player and I sometimes need a shelter of sorts; people who will help me, and this us what they do at the moment,” adds Nocandy.
“You don’t know what tomorrow has in store”
Still, you can’t help but think that for Meline Nocandy the current events are anything else but a thrilling experience. Everything in Nocandy’s career is happening so sudden, while it is only her first season where she has stepped into the spotlight.
“This is like a dream,” she explains. “A lot of things are happening around me, but I try to enjoy it all, while it lasts. You don’t know what tomorrow has in store. So, I want to make the most of it. I want to play again for France, but to compete in another Final4? So many talented players have never qualified and there’s a chance that I will not return to this event, ever.”
It may sound like a cliche, but Meline Nocandy has always been about “living the moment”. From the time she decided to leave Guadeloupe, to pursue handball as a professional sport, she has tried to not “over-think” what the future will hold. If it happens – fine, and if not, it only means that she’ll have to work even harder.
“I left Guadeloupe, my island, with the thought to play for the French national team, one day. That was the only time in my life, I tried to look ahead. I always thought that events, such as the Final4, would come to me, but that there was no point of thinking about it all the time,” she points out.
The time has come
But now, the time has come, when she must think about Budapest, as the DELO Women’s EHF FINAL4 is just around the corner (May 11-12) for her and her Metz teammates. It’s a first appearance for a French team on Europe’s biggest stage, in club handball. Metz will play against Rostov, a team that Grace Zaadi & Co. have already beaten twice this season.
“We’re all looking forward to it (the FINAL4 ed.) and we are very motivated. To be part of this event is a reward for all the hard work, we put in all season long,” concludes Nocandy.
“I don’t exactly know what to expect, but I get the impression this Final4 is something completely nuts!”
DELO – Women’s EHF FINAL4 Tickets: https://en.playhandball.hu/ticket