Eirini Kokkinaki, who has played for the Greek national team and leading club Olympiacos Piraeus, has joined Hartlepool-based training provider Orangebox Trainig Solutions – and has been feeling right at home next to the town’s marina during the recent heatwave.
The 26-year-old is also studying at Sunderland University as she develops a career in human resources and Orangebox’s office – overlooking Hartlepool Marina – has looked just like home recently.
She said: “Orangebox was my first interview for a job and when I left I just loved the vibe.
“It should have been different because I was a professional volleyball player having played the game since I was 12. This is different to having a contract with a sports club. But it was lovely.”
Eirini, who was born on the Greek island of Crete, originally studied business administration as a teenager at the University of Athens.
As well as playing for her country’s senior team, Eirini shone at international Olympic and European youth level while winning six Hellenic Championships and six Hellenic Cups with Olympiacos.
Last summer she embarked on the second year of her Masters at Sunderland University and that has led to her grabbing an opportunity to step into employment for the first time with Orangebox.
She said: “I loved playing volleyball professionally but decided I wanted to change my life. I felt I had completed my life as an athlete.”
Eirini still plays volleyball for Sunderland University and lives on Wearside.
She added: “When I saw the view from the office building, the colours and the view, I felt at home and I wanted to spend my days here. Hartlepool Marina is very similar to my neighbourhood in Athens.
“I want to make sure I cover all of my responsibilities for a training provider like Orangebox but I am loving it.
“The most important asset of the business is the people. I want the people to be satisfied with their jobs so they can give 100 per cent and I want to enjoy doing that for Orangebox.”