Ravne na Koroškem, 30 September 2020 – The young players of the Fužinar volleyball club, including the majority the junior team, who are the reigning national champions are starting the new season with a mind of steel and with the experience of going through a very special training session, which was made possible by the SIJ Group and its company SIJ Metal Ravne, who are the club's long-standing sponsors. This time, they trained under the baton of Petra Majdič and her team and without a volleyball net. The two-hour get-together just flew by, thanks to just the right amount of laughter, a serious attitude and an intriguing approach to high-intensity training. Dripping in sweat, the high spirits made the athletes oblivious to their sore muscles.
If last year's training focused on the mind – motivation and the importance of setting goals – it was focused this year on motion and physical activity. It was dedicated to training agility, coordination and performing exercises for improved balance and faster responses by incorporating elements of plyometrics. This is an approach not know as well in the general public. It is based on different patterns of muscle and nerve activation and is geared towards improving the ability of performing fast and explosive muscle contractions. It is also becoming more and more prominent a method for exploring the limits of one's own body.
"We chose this type of training because agility, namely rapid response capacity, and volleyball coordination are the two qualities that players must possess, so training them is particularly important," coach Mitja Jež explained. "The boys were looking forward to seeing Petra Majdič again after the outstanding training session we had with her last year. These kinds of training sessions are absolutely welcome. And if they are led by a champion such as Petra Majdič, it gives them all the more added value. Not just for the players, but for me as a coach as well."
This activity was also part of the SIJ Group's Mind of Steel project, which allows volleyball players to learn motivational and coaching methods from the former world-class cross-country skier. For the second year in a row, Petra Majdič shared her vast knowledge and experience with the young volleyball players and awakened their minds of steel, which, as she believes, allows us to achieve even the most ambitious goals.
The young volleyball players worked together with a lot of dedication and trained hard. They were fascinated by different things.
Jaka Kokol took part in the training session with Petra Majdič last year. "This was another amazing experience. This year's session felt even better than last year's, but even that one was exceptional. The agility exercises I learned how to do today will help me respond more quickly, which is crucial in volleyball. I learned a lot of new things. Many of the drills I learned for the first tome today will be of immense help in my future volleyball career."
Sharing the sentiment is Žiga Hribernik, "After the experience with Petra Majdič last year, when we learned how to operate as a team, the importance of focus and coordination was at the core of this year's training. I think the most important aspects of volleyball are how to think correctly and how and in which direction to react quickly. Personally, my favourite exercises were the lateral sprints, where we had to focus on our partner and the instructions on the other side simultaneously. In volleyball, this is how focused you have to be when tracking the ball, so that you can position yourself under it correctly."
Ultimately, everyone agreed that training with Petra Majdič is something they will want to do again.
Based on her wealth of experience, Petra Majdič knows that it is a very welcome change to have trainings complemented by other approaches, because, in her own words, "It is vital to expand the horizons of young athletes and introduce them to new training approaches. This prevents them from getting stuck in a routine in their training process. In sports, it is crucial that you can react quickly in any situation and to surprise your opponent, or – when you are left entirely to your own capabilities and willpower – to train your mind to keep it from holding you back, which allows you to go further than you previously thought possible. Even if only by a millimetre. Willpower training is just as important as physical training, because it allows you to look at challenges from different angles and to not back down from reaching your goals.
With its sponsorships and partnerships, the SIJ Group affirms its mission of a socially responsible company through the Made of Steel project. Using different events and activities, it keeps on spreading the message that “achievements in any area require a dedicated mind of steel. This has always been part of the SIJ Group's character, but we also want to develop it in Ravne na Koroškem and Jesenice, where we live and work. Being a club's sponsor is a social responsibility, particularly in smaller local communities, where financial means are very limited. The SIJ Group is aware of that. As a result, working with the local communities and supporting local sports clubs is the priority of our sponsorships and donations," mag. Sara Wagner, the Head of Corporate Communications of the SIJ Group, points out.
In October, Petra Majdič will also lead training sessions with the players of NK Fužinar Ravne Systems and NK SIJ Acroni Jesenice football clubs. For the swimmers of PK Fužinar Ravne swimming club and players of the HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice hockey club, Petra Majdič will lead cross-country skiing training sessions.
SIJ Group is active in numerous sports partnerships in Jesenice and Ravne na Koroškem, where its companies operate. SIJ Acroni, SIJ Ravne Systems, and SIJ Metal Ravne sponsor several sports clubs in their local communities. Through this and numerous additional activities and events for reinforcing the mind of steel, their support is taking on a new dimension and added value for SIJ Group’s employees and local communities. To raise general awareness of healthy living and the importance of recreation, and to spread knowledge about the importance of steel in sports and sports infrastructure, SIJ Group is also a leading partner of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia at the national level. Together they strive to set up open-air steel workout stations in various Slovenian cities and towns, as well as grant sports scholarships to young athletes whose parents work in SIJ Group. With its approach and sponsorship strategy, SIJ Group follows the corporate vision of sustainable development, which far exceeds the social responsibility towards the environment and the local communities.
Petra Majdič, the ambassador of the project Mind of Steel, is a former Olympic athlete and the most successful Slovenian cross-country skier in history. The general public knows her story from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, when she won an Olympic medal, despite a fall that left her with broken ribs. With her personality and life story she personifies what it means to have a “mind of steel”. She is now spreading this message through the sponsorship project Mind of Steel, working as an ambassador of SIJ Group’s sponsorship and donation partnerships among local communities, employees, and the general public.
SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group, d.d.
mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
Phone: +386 1 242 98 27
Mobile: +386 41 313 532