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From ballet to volleyball: Kozuch’s girl power takes Germany to new heights

Kozuch will be a key factor in Germany's performance at this summer's FIVB Women's World Championships
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 18, 2014 - The two FIVB World Championships are the highlights of the year. In the run up to the title showdowns for the men in Poland (August 30 to September 21) and for the women in Italy (September 23 to October 12), we will introduce an international volleyball star each week. In part six of the series, we tell the story of Margareta Kozuch, the German team’s powerhouse.

The international tournament in Montreux is traditionally the first indicator of what the top ladies’ national teams in the world are capable of. This year, the Germans surprised everyone by finishing top of the pile.

And the key factor in their success was once again Margareta Kozuch. The powerful woman was named MVP, recognition not only of the fact that the German team’s playmaker chipped in with a hatful of points in their victories over the Dominican Republic (3-0), Japan (3-0), China (3-0) and USA (3-1), but also of her role as a charismatic leader.

"Incredible. Our best result of late was fifth place, and now this," said Kozuch afterwards. The Polish-born player exudes a zest for life: ecstatic at the triumph in Montreux, she coaxed her teammates into a swim in Lake Geneva. Germany’s ladies are definitely on the way up. Last year they finished runners-up in the European Championship on home turf, with the talismanic Kozuch playing despite a broken finger in the 1-3 defeat to Russia in the final.

This year, the coach of the national team Giovanni Guidetti – who also happens to coach former Club World Champion Vakifbank Istanbul – has his sights set on a medal at the FIVB Women’s World Championship. And he is confident he can count on Margareta Kozuch in particular. "She is an extraordinary character," said the head coach.

"Montreux was an awesome start to an important season. I am very much looking forward to the challenges ahead. We want to continue our climb to the top," said Kozuch. For now, however, Kozuch can enjoy a hard-earned holiday as she looks to recharge her batteries ahead of the FIVB World Grand Prix and the FIVB Women’s World Championships. This time she is in Sri Lanka, last year she headed to Puerto Rico – Margareta Kozuch likes exotic destinations.

"I also went to a beautiful, deserted Caribbean island once. Just me, my book and not a person in sight. It was great," she said dreamily. "The closer I am to nature, the better." Surprising statements from a volleyball star who without doubt enjoys the highest profile on the German ladies' team – not just due to her role as playmaker and her ability to decide matches, but also because she brings a certain degree of glamour to the game.

Kozuch also knows how to sell herself to the public. However, there is also another side to the Polish-born athlete. "I spent all my time out in the fresh air during my childhood. We lived out of tents during the holidays in Poland. There was an open kitchen made of wood and a shower between the trees," she said. "And we often sat round the campfire together while dad played the guitar." Maybe this is the origin of Maggi’s love of rock music, and probably also of her overwhelming desire to break out and dance on a regular basis.

Kozuch is a true volleyball globetrotter and in recent years has usually spent just one season at a club, before moving on to another country, be it Italy, Russia or Poland. Last season she was under contract with Azeryol Baku in the Azerbaijan Super League. Despite all this movement, however, her home city remains Hamburg.

It was in the Hanseatic city that Margareta Kozuch’s astonishing volleyball career began. Although she pretty much grew up with a volleyball in her hand – her parents even met at a volleyball tournament – she only really took up the sport at the age of eleven. A friend convinced her to come down to a practice at TuS Berne. From this moment on she fell in love with volleyball and said goodbye to ballet.

“Ballet really helped my volleyball in terms of coordination, fine motor skills and attitude,” she explained. She has became a poster girl for the sport both inside and outside of Germany, but also has big dreams away from the volleyball court. She would like to have a family with children and maybe study a bit. But before that she has her sights set on doing a lot more traveling: "I am drawn to the jungle or a safari, somewhere where I can be one with nature."



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