Nika Lesic Reflects On Her Time With Croatian National Team, News (Kitchener Soccer Club)

PrintNews Article
Click to view full-size image
2019 Outdoor Academy - U17 Girls Academy - Nika Lesic Reflects On Her Time With Croatian National Team
Submitted By Danielle Byers on Wednesday, August 28, 2019
U17 Girls Academy player, Nika Lesic, reflects on her time training with the U17 Croatian National team in an article in the Kitchener Record.  Click Read More for the article!

Kids in Sports: Kitchener soccer player gains valuable international experience

Nikolina Lesic trained with Croatian under-17 team

SPORTS 01:58 PM by Alana Thoman Special to The Record

Local soccer player Nikolina Lesic had the opportunity to gain international soccer experience in her parents' home country when she participated in the Croatian Football Federation's National U17 Camp in Osijek, Croatia.

"It was amazing and unreal," Lesic said. "I just felt so honoured and just being able to go and represent my heritage and get to wear the checkers and the Croatian logo meant so much."

Lesic, who is heavily involved with the Croatian community in Kitchener, wanted the opportunity to watch or possibly take part in a training session with the Croatian team while her family was vacationing there earlier this year.


She said her family goes there to visit relatives every other year.

In order to see if this was a possibility, Lesic's father Donny reached out to the U17 Croatian coach and asked if there were any training sessions during the time they were there.

"He got an email back and unfortunately there was no training in the time frame, but they said If I was interested I was to send in a resume and a video."

In March, Lesic and her father did just that. In June, after Lesic was named MVP of the St. Mary's High School team, they updated her resume and sent it to the team.

"A month later the next email was asking If I would be interested in coming to the camp and they said if I could get to Croatia they would take care of everything else," said Lesic.

She left on Aug. 13 and participated in the weeklong camp attended by 20 players and three goaltenders. She said she was the only player who does not live in Croatia.

"Some of these girls come from the bigger cities in Croatia so the coach goes and watches them play and picks girls out from their games so I was really honoured to be coming all the way from here to get an invitation like this."

The centre midfielder started playing soccer when she was three and has always played for the Kitchener Soccer Club. She said both of her parents played so soccer has been passed down as a family sport.

She currently plays on the Kitchener U17 girls academy team; she has been a part of the academy since U13.

The academy offers high-level training above the current rep level program and is tailored for elite athletes who are committed to year-round training to help bring their game to the next level.


It is led by Mario Halapir, who is also the head coach of the Wilfrid Laurier University men's varsity soccer team. He has received many awards as a coach and has led teams to national and provincial titles. Prior to coaching he played in the Canadian Soccer League.

Lesic said being a part of the academy has been amazing and prepared her for the training she did in Croatia. She said Halapir was very helpful as he had advice for her since he has sent players to Europe before.

"It's really good training and everything we do is really professional," said Lesic. "Mario is a really good coach and has really good soccer sense and he teaches us everything we need to know."

Lesic said she was nervous going into the camp as she had never seen the Croatian team play. But once she noticed that they were doing the same drills she does with her team at the academy, she felt less stressed.

"To go and see that a national team is doing the same drills that we do made me feel really comfortable and made me fit in with them," said Lesic.

Lesic said there were two training sessions a day and at the end of the camp they had the opportunity to play against the U19 Croatian National team, losing by a score of only 2-1.

Although the drills were similar, new for her was how intense the team dynamic was. The team had a head coach, assistant coach, goalkeeper coach, a doctor and a physiotherapist, and a photographer was with the group at all times.

"We all travelled together in a bus to the practice and back and it was really strict like that," said Lesic. "We had to wear the exact same clothes, even socks and shoes … it was really interesting to be there and experience that."

Lesic said after attending the camp she understands the intensity of higher-level play. She said it also prepared her for the possibility of playing university soccer in a year, where she would have a close-knit team she would travel with.

She said the opportunity opened doors for her as she is still in direct contact with the coach regarding the possibility of joining the U17 Croatian national team roster. However, FIFA regulations require her to have a Croatian citizenship first.

"We started the process and we don't know how long it will take," said Lesic. "The sooner I get it, the sooner I can go back for another training camp and I could even go with them to Euro qualifications if I get this in time."

As she enters Grade 12, she is striving to reach her goal of making a university soccer team, as well as playing on the U17 Croatian team. Since the training in Croatia is sporadic, she said she could still live and play in Canada as well.

Alana Thoman's column appears on Wednesdays.

This article has been viewed 761 times.
Social Networking
Follow Us On
Follow Kitchener Soccer Club on Twitter
- and -
Visit Kitchener Soccer Club on Facebook
- and -
Follow Kitchener Soccer Club on Instagram
Quick Links
Manage Subscriptions
Signup to receive email or text messages for the teams you want to follow.
News ArchiveOther Recent Articles
  • 13
    The U14 B boys (SWDSL) are looking for 2 players. Contact Eugen Latis at [email protected] if you're interest or with questions. 6.5.0
  • 20
    We’re kicking off 2020 with a new Strategic Plan featuring a Soccer First focus! As we head down this new path, we’ll be wearing a new crest on our chest.  You can check out the logo reveal video on Instagram or Facebook.     Stay tuned ...
  • 30
    Brett Springer, a former 2001 Elite Academy Player, was named ACAA player of the week representing St. Thomas University Tommies Men’s Soccer.  Brett, a 1st year striker, paced the Tommies this week with 4 goals, to tie him for the ACAA lead early ...
  • 19
    KSC Elite Academy player Alexa Cimermancic will continue her playing career at the University of Waterloo next year! "Alexa is a special talent and a blue chip recruit that we are excited to have join us next season," said head coach John O'Brien. ...
  • 21
    We're looking for enthusiastic people who want to get involved in their community to coach during our Indoor Season!  Applying is easy, simply fill out the online form, and our staff will contact you with the next steps! 2019 Indoor House League ...
  • 14
    Nikolina Lesic from the U17 Girls Academy team has been invited to participate in the Croatian Football Federation's National U17 Camp in Zagreb, Croatia! It's a great opportunity for a local player to gain international experience! Everyone at KSC ...
  • 13
    New for the 2019-20 Indoor Season, KSC is offering a Parent & Tot program called Future Stars!  The program is for kids born in 2017, and requires parents to be on the field with their child all session.  Each participant (parent & tot) will receive ...
  • 22
    If you can hear thunder, you can get hit by lightning. As soon as you hear thunder, quickly get to a safe location. More people are struck before and after a thunderstorm than during one. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of ...
Printed from on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 9:20 AM