Croatian Tihana Nemcic hit headlines around the world earlier this year when she was appointed boss of Croatian football side NK Viktorija Vojakovac, making her the first ever female coach of a men’s football club in Croatia.
Croatia Week caught up with the 24-year-old Croatian international, Dinamo Zagreb defender, part-time model and Miss Sport finalist during the week to find out how it all started and how her side has feared going into the winter break.
Tihana, how did you first get involved in coaching?
I started to coach during my second year at the College of Sport. At first I was working with little girls in kindergarten and teaching them dance. After that I started to coach a 7-year-old boys football school team in my hometown, Krizevci. Then I was coach of a junior football girls team and with years and more and more experience I became coach of the Croatian national U-17 women’s team. Coaching was a logical choice for me since I have played football for half of my life now, and with the profession I choose for myself, this was the natural way of doing it.
When you took over the reins at NK Viktorija Vojakovac, what style did you want to impose on the side?
The style of play depends on the quality of the team you are working with. The team I am coaching is not high quality, players knowledge varies so it is very hard to put them on the same performance level. However, I insist on playing with one (or two) touches on the ball which ensures fast flow of the ball, fast transfer of the ball from one side to another, passes directed vertically on the opposite goal. I ask my side to be aggressive, with lots of movement and communication. But first of all, I try to teach them to perform their defensive tasks correctly, so if that part is well done, everything is easier.
How has your first period in charge gone?
We have a break now in the league (winter break). My team finished in 14th place out of 16 teams, which they considered was good since their goal is to avoid relegation. However, they believe they will have better results in the spring, which is their experience from previous years in the competition.
Which players were some of your idols when you were growing up?
I was crazy about football when I was growing up. I used to put photos of players on the wall, watch games…..The player I will never forget is Rivaldo, but parallel with him I also adored Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has remained my favorite and is the best player of all time.
Sir Alex Ferguson likes to watch his horse race and Jose Mourinho likes a glass of wine, how do you relax away from football?
Football is relaxation for me. When I am not coaching, I have my own training sessions at my club Dinamo Zagreb, Maksimir where I play right back. I also play futsal for my college team so this takes up my time. I also have just started postgraduate studies at the college I have finished. I will study for my doctorate for 3 more years to become a doctor of science. The rest of the time I have I spend on dancing (modern, jazz dance).