Girls With Epées, Teams With Balls

It rarely happens to find an opinion article on handball in the Romanian press. I should say this happens in only one place: Radu Naum’s blog. In my search for a colorful opinion on Oltchim’s performance so far, I came across this post of his on the Romanian Women’s Epée Team.  Today, four girls represent all that was once good and successful in our country and is now lost, the last drop of water in a hitch-hiker’s bottle.

These girls have all won individual medals people do not care about as much as they do about their multiple European and World team titles. As in gymnastics, as in handball, the public appreciates a team when he sees one a tad more than the deeds of a bright individual. These four girls have told the press they are NOT friends, but that they are a team when it counts. It made me think about our coach begging his handball players to “Help each other in defense!” as if this was an act of graciousness and not an unconditional duty towards the team.

The four fencers just told us the secret when it comes to performing well – do not expect to build friendships, but teams – a secret that Martin Ambros knows better than any other coach in Champions League. An explanation like: “Adina Meirosu and Oana Manea work well together on court because they are close friends” has no place in Estella. There, Begona Fernandez will be as efficient assisted by Oana Soit, by Sandy Barbosa or by the bland Andrea Barno.  It is not a question of who likes who, but of who does what. Clear tasks set up by the coach in order to make a team work in its ensemble, from wing to pivot (do I have to remind you how Spain scored that last-second goal against Romania at the 2009 WCh? Guess not), will support a fantastic handball machine, with fewer individuals and more than one functioning mechanisms.

In contrast, Romania has focused on building two-way relations that once broken, become fatal. Just have a look at Ionela Stanca in Oltchim’s last season, after Cristina Neagu stopped playing! The loss of this axis alone was probably more important than Cristina’s goals, because it represented the perfusion that  artificially kept us alive throughout all those matches.

Take Begona Fernandez out of Itxako, AND Nerea Pena, AND Oana Soit, replace them with not such quality players, and the machine will work just as fine.


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