7m - Arturs Kugis: ”I want to be on the same level like Sterbik and Milosavljev!”

Arturs Kugis

Some of the main reasons for why Vardar have, in the past few years, managed to make a name for themselves building a huge legacy on the highest possible international stage are their aggressive defense and excellent goalkeepers. Players are however coming and leaving the Macedonian capital and the time has now obviously come for them to find some new answers through the rebuilding process and Latvian goalkeeper Arturs Kugis seems to be the next in line of Vardar’s remarkable goalies. After gaining experience in Germany, Kugis has now made another big step forward in his career experiencing the best possible level European handball currently offers throughout both VELUX EHF Champions League and SEHA League. So far he seems to be on the right way and everyone is expecting him to completely ‘explode’ sooner rather than later becoming new leader of defense. 

You've been in Vardar for several months now. What are your thoughts so far?
My impressions are good. I've felt good here ever since the first day I arrived never questioning whether the decision to sign with Vardar was a good one or not. 

Are there things you miss?
Regarding handball – not really. Of course, I miss some of my friends and family but that’s a part of living a life as a professional athlete. 

Are there any differences between Vardar and all the other clubs you’ve been a part of throughout your career so far?
A lot. This is the most professional organization I’ve been a part of so far in my career. Here I have a chance to compete against national team players on a daily basis playing against some of the best European teams in both EHF Champions League and SEHA League. 

You spend a lot of time on the road competing in EHF Champions League and SEHA League. Do you feel that affects your performances?
For me, the beginning wasn’t easy because of all the travelling. Club is however doing everything to make it as little painful as possible for us. Arriving to the destination two days prior to the match helps a lot because you have extra time to adapt and prepare for all the challenges. 

Filling the shoes you’re supposed to fill here in Vardar after succeeding Sterbik and Milosavljev must be challenging with everyone expecting Kugis to meet their level.
I don’t know what other people expect from me. All I know is that I’m doing my best every time I step of the court – no matter if it’s a training session or an official match. Sterbik and Milosavljev are world-class goalkeepers and I want to be on the same level like the two of them. 

Every player has a story behind their shirt number. What’s yours?
92 is my number. I was born in 1992 and ever since I started playing handball that has been my number. 

What’s your favorite thing about Vardar, Skopje and the country in general?
I love the level of support fans deliver every time we’re playing. They are here for us no matter the result or if we’re having a good or bad day giving us everything they have which is amazing. I also like weather and food. 

Last year not many believed in Vardar but they still managed to book a place in Cologne and conquer Europe. Where do you see Vardar at the end of this season?
Last season they proved everything is possible. I feel like we can reach Cologne no matter which position we finish on after the group stage. Only thing that matters is for injured players to get back and that we all stay healthy until the end of the season.