Karla Klarić, a 27-year-old 188 cm tall outside spiker of the Croatian volleyball team, after leaving Zagreb’s Mladost ten years ago, in 2011 to be precise, signed a contract this summer, which she says she dreamed of. Her tenth club in her career, and she has played so far in Switzerland, Romania, France, Greece and Hungary, is Gunma Bank Green Wings from the Japanese city of Maebashi, about an hour’s drive from Tokyo.
“I am extremely happy that my long-standing desire to play in Japan has come true. When we started negotiations this summer, during the preparations with my National team, I did not hesitate to leave or not. Although some tried to answer me, I did not allow myself to be accommodated. Even while I was playing in Voller, Switzerland, I had a Japanese roommate, so I was already delighted with their country. And I talked a lot about Japan with Mia Jerkov and Katarina Barun Šušnjar who played there, and who gave me a lot of good advice. After all, I have been playing volleyball abroad professionally for a long time, so I am ready for all kinds of challenges, “said Karla, who after arriving in Japan had to complete a preventive two-week quarantine due to Covid 19.
And first impressions are…
„Fantastic! I feel wonderful here in Japan. Everything is great, starting with how they accepted me, to the culture, the training conditions, the approach to training, the organization, this is a completely different world. Since I had to do a two-week quarantine, I only spent a few days with the team, but it’s amazing how comfortable and warm everyone at the club accepted me from the first moment. I am very happy to be here and to have the opportunity to compete in a strong Japanese league. I am looking forward to training and the start of the championship with my new team,” said Karla, who is the only foreign player in the club, given that Japan’s strict sports regulations allow only one foreigner in each club, which is another proof of her quality.
Karla went into professional waters very early, after the second grade of the Sports Gymnasium, but she did not neglect her schooling all that time. After high school, where she notes that all the professors met her very well since she came to Zagreb every two months to take exams for a short time, she enrolled at the Faculty of Kinesiology and is now nearing the end of her three-year study.
Karla was part of the Croatian national team at the European Championships this summer and still regrets the defeat in the eighth-finals by France.
“I am very sorry that we did not reach at least the quarterfinals, I think we had a good team for that. Unfortunately, in the match against France, our rivals showed more courage, determination and aggression in decisive moments, because they are no better than us in terms of quality “, is the opinion of one of our most experienced national team players, who didn’t really play much at the European Championships.
“I played as many opportunities as I got, and I think I did my minutes very successfully. Of course, I’m sorry I didn’t play more, but I respect every decision of the coach and I’m always ready to submit to the team as much as possible, “said Karla Klarić from Japan.