Ravne na Koroškem, 7 October 2020 – The young players of Fužinar football club awakened and strengthened their minds of steel with Petra Majdič this year as well. This year's session with Petra was focused on stamina. Despite the sweaty heads, energy and enthusiasm were abundant, while the real football atmosphere was provided by loud and playful young footballers. As it should be! The training was a part of the activities of the SIJ Group, which, through its sponsorship program Mind of Steel, promotes and strengthens club awareness in the clubs it supports. This event was organised in cooperation with the company SIJ Ravne Systems and NK Fužinar football club.

Last year's event with Petra Majdič focused on the mind – motivation and the importance of setting goals. The aim of this training session was to focus on physical activity, agility and coordination, and exercises to improve balance and responsiveness, incorporating elements of plyometrics. Although not as well known a method, it is based on different patterns of activation of the neuromuscular system and is aimed at improving the ability of explosive, rapid muscle contraction. It is also becoming more and more effective a method for learning the limits of one's own body.

The two-hour session was over before you knew it, thanks to the well thought-out and dynamic exchanging of tasks – from the ones that made everyone laugh, to the more serious HIIT exercises – sweat came pouring down. But spirits were high, so nobody even paid attention to the fatigue or the pain in the muscles building up.

Miran Pečnik, the coach for the U11 section of the club said that they are always on the lookout for exercise approaches that would enable the children to make constant progress and help to develop them into well rounded individuals and athletes. "We try to adapt the training program to the age of the players by following scientific research. Special emphasis is placed on the general goals of the learning process, such as preparing the players for a healthy lifestyle, providing them with the best possible opportunities for physical development, training willpower in physical efforts, establishing work habits and fostering cooperation within a group. We want the kids to gradually develop their general and football-specific motor skills, so elements of agility and coordination training are often included into our training sessions. Being the champion that she is, Petra Majdič showed us many new interesting training methods and gave us some great ideas for our work in the future."

Based on her wealth of experience, Petra Majdič is all too aware of how useful it is to occasionally spice up our training sessions with completely new elements, because she believes that, "It is vital that we expand the horizons of young athletes and try to familiarise them with different approaches to training, so that we don't get stuck in a monotonous training routine. In sports, it is crucial that you can react quickly in any situation and to surprise your opponent, or – when you are left entirely to your own capabilities and willpower – to train your mind to keep it from holding you back, which allows you to go further than you previously thought possible, even if only by a millimetre. Willpower training is just as important as physical training, because it allows you to look at challenges from different angles and to not back down from reaching your goals.”

The young football players were very enthusiastic, trained really hard and they were ecstatic to have had the opportunity to do it with Petra. And what did they like the most about the training?

"My favourite was an exercise called the caterpillar. It was also fun to be blindfolded and to be guided by others. It taught us how important the ability to concentrate and listen to instructions really is. We did speed drills and exercises to connect more with the players, which will definitely prove useful in trainings and in matches," Nikolas Petrovič explained enthusiastically.

Nel Koležnik really liked the game, "That we played in pairs – one person was blindfolded, while the other guided him across the pitch to find as many cones as possible. Another exercise I remembered is the athlete's alphabet and the fingers exercise. If we continue to do them, it will improve our coordination and will make us more successful in our matches. I'm happy that Petra Majdič, who I've only seen on TV until now, was our coach."

With its sponsorship partnerships, the SIJ Group continues its successful mission of a socially responsible company and awakens the minds of steel, thereby using different events and activities to spread the message that, as mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications in the SIJ Group, points out, "Achievements in any field require a tough mind of steel, which has always been part of the SIJ Group's character."

Petra Majdič already led an agility and coordination training last week for the young players of OK Fužinar volleyball club and she is planning to do a training session with the players of NK SIJ Acroni Jesenice football club next week. She will definitely be back in Ravne, because the swimmers of PK Fužinar are anxiously awaiting her arrival for their first joint cross-country skiing training session.

Fingers crossed that we will be able to do everything we have planned, given the uncertain coronavirus epidemiological situation.



SIJ Group is active in numerous sports partnerships in Jesenice and Ravne na Koroškem, where its companies operate. SIJ Acroni, SIJ Ravne Systems, and SIJ Metal Ravne sponsor several sports clubs in their local communities. Through this and numerous additional activities and events for reinforcing the mind of steel, their support is taking on a new dimension and added value for SIJ Group’s employees and local communities. To raise general awareness of healthy living and the importance of recreation, and to spread knowledge about the importance of steel in sports and sports infrastructure, SIJ Group is also a leading partner of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia at the national level. Together they strive to set up open-air steel workout stations in various Slovenian cities and towns, as well as grant sports scholarships to young athletes whose parents work in SIJ Group. With its approach and sponsorship strategy, SIJ Group follows the corporate vision of sustainable development, which far exceeds the social responsibility towards the environment and the local communities.

Petra Majdič, the ambassador of the project Mind of Steel, is a former Olympic athlete and the most successful Slovenian cross-country skier in history. The general public knows her story from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, when she won an Olympic medal, despite a fall that left her with broken ribs. With her personality and life story she personifies what it means to have a “mind of steel”. She is now spreading this message through the sponsorship project Mind of Steel, working as an ambassador of SIJ Group’s sponsorship and donation partnerships among local communities, employees, and the general public.

Additional information:
SIJ – Slovenian Steel Group, d.d.
mag. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications
Phone: +386 1 242 98 27
Mobile: +386 41 313 532