Full halls, fat ratings and a sporting dream: germany’s women’s handball team wants to win over new fans with strong performances at the home world championships and crown its start into a successful future with its first medal win in ten years.
"We want to use the home world cup to place women’s handball on a more sustainable footing," said national coach michael biegler, setting out the tournament’s agenda and promoting his ladies ahead of this friday’s opener against cameroon: "the team offers outstanding handball when it brings its qualities to the plate."
From leipzig via magdeburg to hamburg – the world championship trip of the DHB selection is not to end until the final weekend in the alster metropolis. "The goal must be to be there as a major handball nation until the very end, if possible. We all want to enjoy the hamburg experience," said biegler, formulating the dream goal.
2007 was the last time they won a bronze medal, and the last time they won the title was 24 years ago. But the competition is strong and rough. World and european champions norway, olympic champions russia, olympic runners-up france and runners-up the netherlands are the top favorites.
But that doesn’t scare the DHB women. "We have an unbelievable team spirit, the likes of which i have not seen before. It’s this fire, everyone wants to show themselves to their own fans. And we have a good team with interesting constellations," said goalkeeper clara woltering.
After lean years, german handball federation sees home world championships as a rough chance to get women out of the shadow of their male counterparts a bit. "We firmly believe that women’s handball can develop. This is also a social question. The position of women in germany will continue to develop over the next 20 years, and this will also have an impact on sports. There’s a tremendous potential for growth," said DHB secretary general mark schober.
For the DHB, it is therefore important that all german final round matches are broadcast live on free TV on sport1. ARD and ZDF will also be on board if the team makes it to the semifinals, which will significantly increase its reach. "It’s all about making the product of women’s handball better," explained DHB president andreas michelmann.
National coach biegler and sports director wolfgang sommerfeld, who led the team to sixth place at last year’s european championships and who will both leave their posts after the tournament, have created the best conditions for this to happen. "The two of them have really cleaned up in this area and made sure that the women get the same demand and at the same time more respect," praised michelmann. "If we continue this trend, i have good hopes that we will continue this development."
Biegler and sommerfeld also think beyond the world cup. "We have developed a german game philosophy, because only this can guarantee sustainability," said sommerfeld. "We have the very best playing ability in the world, if the team implements that. The closer we get to this ideal, the better are the chances."
The preliminary round, in which sud korea, china, serbia and the netherlands are the other opponents, should be mastered. After that, in the K.O.-phase much depends on the day’s form and the luck of the game. The home audience could play a rough role – as it did in 2007 during the world cup triumph of the manner.
"A major event in one’s own country is always something special. We know it’s going to be an unusual situation for the ladies," biegler said. "They are not so completely unprepared, however. The team has learned how to pick up a hall. Then pressure becomes a positive feeling."
Sommerfeld is also confident: "we have built a firm foundation. At the european championships, we put in some iron bars, so it became even more stable," said the sports director. "The team has qualities and can continue to grow in the world cup."
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