7m - Mikita Vailupau: “I honestly think Meshkov can defeat anyone“

Mikita Vailupau

He arrived quietly as a reinforcement for Belarusian champions and has already become a legend as the best SEHA - Gazprom League scorer. With two eighth-final matches against BSU behind him, he’s already scored 90 goals from only 118 attempts and with at least two more matches ahead of him, crossing a 100-goal-mark appears to be well within his reach.

He’s managed to score more than ten goals in a single match three times this season – 12 versus Veszprem in Hungary, 17 against Eurofarm Pelister in Bitola and 20 in his record-setting performance in Sabac against Metaloplastika. Apart from his SEHA League success he’s also played a solid role for his team in EHF Champions League as well as represented Belarus at 2020 European Championship.

Future looks really bright for Mikita and that’s why we’ve picked him for another edition of our 7M interviews.

You have really good chances of taking the best scorer title in your first SEHA - Gazprom League season. Did you dream of this?
I can’t call it a dream. That’s one of the goals that I’m going to achieve with the help of my teammates.

In the match against Metaloplastika you exploded for incredible 20 goals which is something that doesn’t really happen that often. What was the match like?
I remember we didn’t go to Bitola with our strongest roster but with our second team. Main goal was to enjoy the process and I think, despite of the fact we failed to come out on top in the end, it turned out to be a great chance to gain experience.

Group you’ve been a part of in this season’s edition of SEHA - Gazprom League with PPD Zagreb and Telekom Veszprem has been quite tough. Do you feel like Meshkov could have achieved an even better result?
I honestly think we can defeat anyone. Last EHF Champions League matches, especially win over Kiel, proved how strong we are and that we really have a lot of potential. However, during the match, everything doesn’t always go the way we’d want it to.

Young players often dream of joining a team from stronger European leagues. However, you decided to stay in Belarus and sing with Meshkov. 
I have signed a three-year deal here. Everything suits me in Brest and I want to achieve success with this team. It is necessary to give your best every day and if you do that you’ll definitely end up being noticed. If you are committed to what you’re doing, there will always be offers.

Meshkov are a regular SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 tournament participants but playing in the grand finale is an extra honor. Do you feel pressure to go all the way this season and do you feel like you guys have what it takes to do it? 
We do not feel the pressure. Goal is, of course, to go all the way and in order to do that we have two things – good players and good coaching staff.

Who do you see as your biggest rivals on the road to SEHA title?
First, we have to defeat Motor Zaporozhye who have a really strong team. There are no underdogs on the Final 4 tournament, I believe each team that gets there has the same chance to eventually bring the trophy back home.

This season appears to be just the beginning for you. Where do you see yourself in a few years?
I see myself in a team where I will be in demand and will be able to grow additionally.

You’re a five-time Belarusian vice-champion. Has the time finally come for you to go all the way?
Of course!

You’ve also represented your country at EHF EURO 2020 where you and your teammates were a real refreshment. Do you think Belarus can be even better?
We have a very good generation of players born between 1994 and 1996. Many guys have already become leaders of their teams and many play in high-quality European teams which is why I really feel like we’re capable of being even better!

Many think you’re focused solely on handball but you have an interesting hobby.
Most of the time I’m devoted to handball and everything that goes with it – massages, proper nutrition, trainings. However, whenever I catch a break I like to paint. I like abstract art. Also, I’ve recently found another hobby in fashion design. Perhaps I’ll soon launch a test collection of street style clothes.

How much does it help you relax and regain focus?
I mainly do it for fun. I try to have fun with everything, including handball. This is the most important thing for me.

Has anyone else seen your work already?
Many of my paintings hang in restaurants and some were presented to legendary people like Spartak Mironovich. I know Mikkel Hansen is also interested in abstract art and I’d be really glad if one of my paintings ended up in his collection.

Photo credit: meshkovbrest.by (Meshkov Brest website)