“I realized how much my way of struggle means to others” – says Natasa Kovacevic, a basketball player that had to end her career because of the traffic accident.
Young and perspective Serbian basketball player Natasa Kovacevic, had at beginning of October, a traffic accident where she lost her left leg under the knee and had to stop playing basketball. Ever since accident the words of encouragement came, but she didn’t despair – right after the surgery she positively shock the basketball world when she, leaping on one leg, went to basketball court to shoot. Recovery progressed very well, as well as getting used to prosthetic. These days she surprised the world not only by going on the court, but because she played basketball in France.
In a meantime, Natasa became ambassador for Youth selections in FIBA Europe, she got a prestigious award “Pierre de Coubertin – Sport as school of life”, but also established Foundation that carries her name and has a goal to help injured and ill athletes , but also in promoting women sports.
– It been a year since a serious accident that have changed your life, but you did not stop fighting. Even now we could see you back on a basketball court, when during your visit to France you, almost without a missed three pointer, took some shots. It seems as you can not live without basketball. What does it feel to be on a court?
Basketball is my first love. I go to the court all the time, even when I was in hospital my brother and me used to sneak out and shoot. But in France it was something totaly different, with my new prosthetic I can run, shot a jump shot, even to do a lay up, and that is indescribable. Really there are no words to explain how happy I am to be able to play basketball with my friend for one more time. That is why I would like to thank French basketball federation (FFBB), especially to president of federation Jean-Pierreu Siutatu and mister Goran Radonjic, FIBA Europe and Basketball federation of Serbia.
– Your leg is amputated below the knee, how did you manage to get used to moving with prosthetic? Do you have a wish to play basketball again?
Time will tell if there is a possibility for something like that, but I am not worried by it. Currently I do not think about it, I try to go step by step and to enjoy in every day. Also I try to honor every single obstacle that I manage to pass. If it all will depend on me, I have no doubt that I will succeed.
– Tragedy that you experienced would turn a life to many, but in a negative way. Career was, unfortunately ended, but you managed to find yourself in other activities. It seems that you are doing well. What is the secret?
There is no special secret. It is all very simple. You have a choice ether to despair or to learn from situation, and I have chose the latter. For me the fact that I love to explore was very helpful, but also I never limited myself to only one activity. Basketball was a huge part of me, and it still is, but it is not the whole me. It is just a game, and life have so many other good things that I am ready to explore.
– They also call you “persevering girl” and “courage’s girl”. Do you realize that by example you are representing inspiration for others, athletes and all the people that have to face their tragedies?
I was raised to be fighter and to never quit. I am used to it. It is hard to realize that you are inspiration for someone when you have to fight you own battle. After visiting one girl, who also lost a leg, I realized that the way that I fight is also important to others. All people are different and each of us have a special kind of battle that is unique, but it is important to remember that “there is no chance or faith that can frustrate or tame will of a dedicated soul”.
– How much is support of family and friend important to you?
Support of family is the most important thing without a doubt. They also felt everything that has happen to me, but together we were able to become more stronger. The support of close friends, but also people that I did not knew before, meant a lot to me. My strength most definitely came from them.
– While receiving prestigious award “Pierre de Coubertin – Sport as school of life” you experienced standing ovations, and on the stage you were welcomed by one of the best basketball player’s ever – Vlade Divac, now the president of Olympic Committee of Serbia. How much it all means to you?
That moment really has a special meaning for me. The fact that I was in the same room with all those legends amazes me. It is sure that I will remember and treasure that event for as long as I live. The award was presented by Vlade Divac, and the truth is that my family woke up in a middle of the night just to watch him play for Sacramento Kings. It is a great honor to meet a men like that, and all I can say that he is even great men.
– FIBA has made you ambassador for Youth selection.
This also means a lot to me. I had a chance to participated on different projects and seminars and to be again on the court, but in a slightly different role. It a huge honor and pleasure to share my experience with young people. With great impatience I wait future projects.
– You have established the foundation that carries your name. What are the goals of foundation?
i have established a foundation in May and my wish is to help athletes. Foundation has four goals: Aid and support for athletes that happen to be in a serious health problem; Promoting the importance of Social Security as the result of protecting athletes in cases of adverse events; Aid and support for young talents, not only in sport development, but also in gaining the right education and Promotion of women’s sport, particularly women’s basketball.
– Since the creation of foundation it has been a half of year. What are your first impressions and are there any results?
Every job has it’s difficulties. It is hard to find partners for foundation, but we are fighting. We done a lot of promoting for women sport and a lot of support for young athletes. We also contributed in humanitarian actions. Currently, we are helping a small basketball club from Smederevo. Our wish is to make sure that every athlete is insured, and to educate about importance of insurance, as one can see from my example. Research suggests that only three percentage of athletes are insured. Our wish is to change that.
We invite all the people with good will to support the Foundation in every way, because we are all one big, sports family and we must take care of each other. We also have a goal to progress and to make our work notable in country and abroad.
– Traffic accident ended your career and stop you from getting Serbian women basketball back on the map. Do You believe that through Foundation You can help your former teammates?
Promotion of women basketball, and women sport in general, is one of the goals of Foundation. My mother was a basketball player that played in Red Star, and since I was a child I listened about the games and support from the crowd. Back then the support for women and men basketball was the same. I was in Paris recently and I witness games in front of sold out arena. My wish is to get people back on the stands and we will do everything to make this dream come through.
– You are currently on two Universities, also working on Foundation and on promotion of basketball and sport in general, is there any position that you are interested in?
Currently I am focused on my studies and Foundation. As I already said I go step by step. My interest are management, tourism and sports. I hope that in future I will work what I want.