Sant Feliu de LlobregatViktoria Mirtxeva (Berdiansk, Ukraine, 1987) is a Barça CBS player who balances her work as a professional athlete with being the mother of a three-year-old boy. The pivot is one of the veterans of a very young Blaugrana team that is contesting the Copa de la Reina in Zaragoza this weekend.
How are you after these first months in Barcelona?
– I feel good. I like the team and the colleagues I have, who are very close. In addition, the weather is very good. The League is new to me. It’s the first time I’ve played in Spain and I’ve noticed the change. I spent the last five years playing in Turkey, where the mentality and style of basketball is very different.
Did you imagine a first stretch of the season so good?
— No, I don’t think anyone imagined that this team would be among the top eight. It’s the team’s first year in the top flight and that always requires an adjustment period. The coaches did a really good job and really helped us build a strong team identity. We like to play faster than most opponents.
What does the coach ask?
— For me, everything is a little different, both in terms of the style of basketball and my role in the team. At first it was a bit difficult for me to adapt and understand how to play. Throughout my career I have played as a winger, very open, and here I have to occupy a more inside position. The other inside player is Ruth Hamlin, who is having a spectacular season and has a more classic profile. I think the combination we make is very interesting.
What should we expect now?
— The second part of the season will be difficult because the teams have improved a lot. Each rival has found his own style. We begin to notice the fatigue. It will be a tough stretch, as we also have to play many games away from home.
You left it for two seasons to be a mother. How do you remember it?
— I was 32 years old and decided with my partner that it was a good time to have a child. It wasn’t a difficult decision. Just then the coronavirus appeared and so it was a perfect coincidence as all activity came to a halt. The boy (Maxim) is three years old. Basketball is very emotional and you’re always thinking about how the game or practice went. Now, however, when I get home, I forget how everything went. Being a mother while still a player changes your perspective. When I’m on the court, I think 100% about the team, but when I get home the child needs constant attention. I am lucky to have my husband with me. He helps me a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever played with a teammate who was a mother, at least I don’t remember. I usually play with girls younger than me.
How is the Russian attack in Ukraine?
— The war is a very disappointing situation. My parents and brother still live in Ukraine. Their area is occupied and therefore neither they can go out nor I can go to see them. I hope it all ends soon, because it’s a mess. Berdiansk, my hometown, is a dangerous place to live. At first I decided not to read much or watch the news. I try to talk to them often and ask them how everything is going. It’s impossible not to worry, and I was a lot at first. It took me a while to realize that it was a real war. Nobody wants to be part of Russia, but we don’t know how things will end. People are afraid of everything, me too.