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Sunday, 19 May 2013 17:54

Interview with Diana Delva!

On a sunny Saturday afternoon on Leoforos Alexandras we met with Diana Delva star player of Panathinaikos Women’s Basketball team. She was casual, very friendly and made us feel like we have known her for quite a while! Now that her responsibilities are over she is planning to simply enjoy her summer and Greece! Sitting outside our historic gym, “Tafos tou Indou”, we began our interview..

What was your first impression after arriving in Athens and was it easy to adapt to the different environment? 

Well, my first year I was in Liosia so I thought that the whole of Athens was going to be like Liosia. But after coming to the center of Athens I saw that it was different! I ‘m used to living in a big city so it wasn't that much of an adjustment for me. I like it so far! My first year in Liosia we were 3 Americans so we would hang out all the time! It wasn't really that hard adjusting because of them! But this year everybody left so I was all alone. Being all alone was difficult, but I managed to meet new people. In the beginning it was hard, but my teammates at Panathinaikos helped me a lot.

How do you find life in Greece? 

It‘s really good! I like how everything is so relaxed and laid back! It’s one of the things I like the most! Even for basketball, I wake up, go to practice and that’s basically it! Sometimes I go out for coffee, or dinner, but overall I have a very relaxed life over here! My only responsibility is to go to practice and I can really just focus on that! Back home I was in college, so I had loads of classes, workouts 3-4 times everyday so it was a lot, it was completely different from the life here! I like it here! I have more time to take care of myself, take care of my body and make sure I’m OK.

What made you want to become a basketball player? 

Well, it was really quite random! When I first started playing it was because I was tall. People were simply asking me to go and play. There was a time when I liked playing organized sports so when I got to high school they asked me to join the school team. And that’s basically how I started playing! I was around 13-14 when I started and when I got to college more opportunities started opening up. When I was in high school I thought “I’m going to play in college”, when I got to college I starting thinking “I can play overseas”. I hadn't planned things like this, it sort of came to be by itself, but I’m really happy things worked out like this! It wasn't a childish dream! I used to be a tomboy at school, running around and playing sports all the time but it wasn't something I thought I could do as a career. But I’m really glad that I did!

Would you have liked to do something else other than become a basketball player? 

Now that I’m playing absolutely not! Now that I’m playing I would not want to do anything else! I’m happy where I am, with what I’m doing. But when I was younger (Major in Marketing), I thought I was going to go into Marketing and that was what I was going to do. But now I’m really glad with the way things worked out!

So how do you feel right now, a short time after winning the championship? 

Feels GREAT! Now I can finally enjoy my vacation time and just relax! I’m a champion now and I can just enjoy my summer, have a great time! All the hard work and workouts paid off! We started work in August and it was a long season! Even the games in the season, we had a couple of hard ones, but in the end, all the practices, all the recovering from the injuries paid off.

What did it take to win the championship? 

It was a group effort! It was the team, the coaches, the president, the fans, everything! In the home games the support that we had made things easier. And then the standings were so that we only needed to win 1 game at home, but everything really helped to become champions! Everyone had a very big part in becoming champions!

How did you “live” the big matches on the hardcourt? You could see the fans getting extremely excited when you were winning. What were your feelings?

Well for me the fans are one of the main reasons we got go so far! I mean, thanks to them we won every game at home! We always had a lot of fans, a lot of support and because of that we didn't lose a single game at home. The big games are always exciting, there are a lot of people there, it's loud, it’s crazy, and they definitely help us win the games! In Athinaikos away game we lost, but here we won by a lot, so it’s a great atmosphere and the crowd really helps us! It was awesome winning them! To me all that mattered was winning, it could have been by 2 points, by 1 point, but what mattered was that we won!

What is it like to play in front of Panathinaikos fans in “Tafos tou Indou”? 

It’s really awesome! The home games are truly awesome! The environment and just the energy that the fans bring to the game, it’s something incredible! You really can’t beat that and it’s something that you can’t find anywhere else in Greece, at least in women’s basketball! There are other big clubs as well and they don’t have that so it’s a really good thing that our fans support our team. It’s not like men’s basketball but the support we get from the fans is great! The support we get is incredible! You might not know everyone individually but you can feel that they are behind you and support you all the way!

Have you encountered similar support in other teams you have played for?

It’s really different. In college we had fans but they were old people that sat there and clapped when you scored a basket. It was a good environment but it was completely different! You can’t really compare this atmosphere to anything else. When I first got here and went to a men’s game, I literally couldn't watch the game, I was watching the fans cheering all the time! I was surprised by the whole atmosphere and support! Even though I don’t understand the lyrics I can still feel the energy and the pulse! In my first year in Greece when we played against Panathinaikos, I had no idea what the fans were singing and yet I could feel their chants! I just like it really much!

What are your plans for the future? 

Right now, I’m just going to enjoy my summer! I want to keep playing for a while. Where I‘ll play ,who knows. The summer is still early and I can’t say I‘ll come back for sure but for now I just want to keep playing, enjoying where I ‘m at and have a great summer holiday! I can see myself playing for Panathinaikos in the future. I want to go try different things and then come back over here. I’ m not really sure. I can see myself playing, because I have played here for 2 years. I know what it ‘s about, I ‘m used to it. Everyone is saying I should stay here and become like Mike Batiste (!) but we will see. I can see it happening but I’m not sure! Or even if I leave I think I will come back , I’m not really sure what the future holds!

We heard about your back injury.. How did you deal with it? 

Well, honestly, the timing of the injury really sucked. I got hurt during the last game of the regular season before we went up to Volos. The timing was really horrible. I was healthy all year and then all of a sudden I hurt myself. And when you are going for the championship and the cup you just want to give all 100%. But I couldn't do much about it so I just sucked it up and did my best! Now I get to rest, get healthy again. I can fix it, I‘ll be ok, it was just the horrible timing that it happened. Thankfully we went very well during the regular season so I didn't have a bunch of games to play while I was injured. During the cup I didn't practice at all so I could get better, I just sat out. I took a shot before the cup game. I wish I could have stayed out and rested more but I couldn't  I took some shots, took my medicine and went out and played. It was just really tragic that I played the whole year and couldn't play at the end! So I just sucked it up and played as best as I could! I took shots to deal with the pain but they didn't really help.. When you ‘re into the game and you have the adrenaline rush you don’t really feel it, but when you sit down the pain strikes you. I remember at the end of the game, during the celebrations I was really excited but I simply had to get out because of the pain! In the beginning of my injury I was afraid that another player might hit me hard on my back so I wasn't posting at all, I was just trying to shoot. But then I decided to just go, play the way I usually play and not to change anything. But things got better. When I first got hurt it was more mental. But when I had more time to relax and practice I got it out of my head.

Who supported you during the difficult times while you were injured? 

Well my teammates were there a lot. They are mostly all I have here, my teammates and my Greek friends. I was with them a lot, in practice, outside practice and they definitely helped me a lot!

What would you like to say to all the Panathinaikos Supporters Abroad? 

Well you won’t believe it, but I went back home and I went to a pizza place and they had a Panathinaikos banner there and I said “Oh I play for that team” and they made a BIG deal! I wouldn't have thought that there were people outside Greece who support Panathinaikos, but I think that it’s awesome that even though people leave Greece they still love and support Panathinaikos so much! Even people who are not Greeks support Panathinaikos and its really amazing! And of course every time they are here in Greece they support Panathinaikos and they support us and that really helps us achieve our goals! So a big thank you to everyone out there who supports us! 

So how do you plan to spend your time in Athens now? 

Well now that it's summer time I love to go to the beach, play some beach volleyball, relax and have a good time! I don’t really have a schedule and I love that! I wake up every morning and do whatever I feel like doing! I love it here during the summer! Everyone is so laid back so that helps me relax and prepare for the upcoming season! Back home everyone has their jobs and rushing here and there, so its different! I love it here! During winter it’s not that great, but I have to be here! I still enjoy it, but you just can’t compare it to the summer time!

We really enjoyed the time we were able to spend with Diana Delva. It was a great experience. Her easy smile and laid back style won us over. It also reminded us of how important it is to support the amateur athletics divisions of Panathinaikos which continue to hold our flag high through this very difficult period. Supporting and strengthening these teams with players who have the talent and character of Diana Delva is our obligation to the club we love. After all, as the picture below says THEY ARE ALL PANATHINAIKOS!


Last modified on Monday, 11 May 2015 04:50
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