“It’s been a tough season” is a huge understatement from a hugely understated player. However difficult the season has been though, the Hungarian national team player, Kamilla Farago (and her UVSE teammates) really dug deep over the past few months, culminating in securing the club’s second European honour.
In an exclusive interview with Total, Farago (no relation to Tamas) talks to us about UVSE’s shock Euro Cup win this season and the rest of the season.
Farago starts by explaining the significance of lifting their first piece of silverware this season. “It’s a very special win for us because we have a lot of young players in the team who had to prove themselves quite early.”
With Ujpest losing all five of their previous meetings with Ferencvaros this season ahead of the second leg of the Euro Cup final, winning at Nepliget looked like an impossible task for UVSE. Farago, never doubted her team’s chances to cause an upset, crediting her team’s unwavering belief in their ability to win as the key to their success. “We learned something from every game we lost, and it showed in the first final game when we were only down by one goal,” she says. “Nobody hesitated for a second, and that was the key.”
While the odds and recent form are still stacked against UVSE ahead of a potential clash with Ferencvaros in the Hungarian Championships, the Euro Cup triumph will no doubt give Marton Benczur’s team a much-needed boost for the rest of the season. Farago, however, is not getting carried away, recognising the need to stay focused and maintain a winning mindset. “We don’t think for a minute that the road to the championship final is going to be easy. In fact, we have to get there first,” she says.
In recent times, UVSE has sought to promote opportunities for their younger academy graduates rather than relying on recruitment in the transfer window, like the strategy employed by their Budapest rivals, Ferencvaros. Farago, however, has faith in her club’s philosophy:
“UVSE has gone through a big generational change in the past years, but before each season, young players have been brought in who have been able to stand their ground. I really hope that this will continue. Fortunately, the team will stay together next year, and we will work to achieve as much success as possible together.”
Farago is a youngster herself, aged only 22. However, the Hungarian international is undoubtedly a leading light in the UVSE team. As one of the older players on the team, Kamilla takes on a leadership role by setting an example for her younger teammates with her game and training. “It’s nice to be with them every day because they are very motivated and hungry for knowledge,” she says.
“I think they are all very talented and motivated, not to mention what they put into this sport every day and the sacrifices they have to make at such a young age. All those morning practices, school, and 3-4 games on the weekends, and it’s great to see how much they enjoy it.”
Farago’s influence has only increased since the departure of Rita Keszthelyi, and the long-term absence of Ujpset’s all-round star, Natasa Rybanska. However, according to Farago, it hasn’t changed her mindset:
“The whole team and staff worked to ensure that none of us felt under pressure. However, I’m always more critical of myself, so the pressure is always more on myself, but I have been working on it, and I feel like I am succeeding. Of course, Keszi is irreplaceable, and Natasha’s injury didn’t come at the right time, but she has been (in the Euro Cup final), and she will be back to help the team at the most important time of the season.”
While things are rosy for Farago now, UVSE’s number eight was dealt a huge blow when she was left out of Hungary’s Olympic squad for the Tokyo games. The team went on to take the bronze medal. Farago admits she took the news hard:
“Missing out on the Olympics was as hard as anyone could imagine. The hardest part was that after I talked with the coach and he told me I won’t be in the Olympic team, I was training with the team and helping them until the end. I even went to Japan with them when they trained there for a week before the Olympics started, and then I went home by myself.”
Travelling back from Tokyo alone on the plane, while leaving her biggest dream behind her, was undeniably painful. But Farago promised herself to remember that setback to give her the grit she needs for the future:
“This battle has given me a lot. It was a great opportunity to learn and improve, but it was very hard mentally and physically as well. The harder the fight, the sweeter the win, so by overcoming all of this, it made me even happier that I was able to be there and represent the Hungarian flag at all the recent national events.”
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