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.

Season Preview Interviews

The website does a series of interviews with key actors of the teams playing Champions League this season. Here are the juicy parts and the alternative translation:

Herbert Muller, coach of Thuringer HC:

I think we have a good squad as well for this year, but you don’t have to look only titles, but have to see the team development.

=>> It was plain luck we won the title last season, no one in the club expects us to actually win points in the group stage.

I think the team fits from it’s team spirit, but here at Schmelz the final piece was still missing to win one of the close matches. Shots that went in last year now didn’t go in. We have to work on that.

=>> This is not FTC, so don’t expect us to score from the 9m line.

Galina Gabisova, goalkeeper of Rostov Don:

In the previous season many things were not as they should have been. I played a little, so there was no relation between us (her and Suslina), but this season things will change.

=>> CL is the least of my worries. If I get to play 10 min every other match, that will be my trophy.

Simply, I decided in the last moment to stay at home. My parents had a little role in this decision, but I also wanted to stay and prove that in Rostov, I’m number 1.

=>> There’s a rumor Inna will retire soon.

Jana Krause, goalkeeper of Buxtehuder SV:

At the moment I`m very satisfied here and feel very good in the team, but I`m also very ambitious. I don`t know what will be after two years. Then I will be 26 years old, where the best years for goalkeepers begin. It could be interesting to make new experiences in a foreign country, but I haven`t thought about this yet.

=>> Englert, Woltering, I’m coming!

It is a dream to reach one of the CL groups with Buxtehude. I played two seasons with Nürnberg in the CL, and that was a greatly experience and feeling to play against the best teams and players in Europe and the world.

=>> I realize those days are gone now and Women’s Champions League is degrading. Let’s face it: we are only battling with Debrecen for the “worst team of CL award”.

Ana Djokic of Buducnost:

The most memorable match in the previous season was the match against Larvik, because in this match we fought for something that Buducnost has not experienced yet, and that is the entrance in the final of the Champions League.

=>> I am pretending that was not one of the biggest fiascoes in the history of the Balkan peninsula.

How do you see the future of Buducnost?  I see my team in the top of the Champions League.

=>> How do I see the future of our Future? Tricky question. I’ll do like Adzic and say something redundant.

Ambros Martin, coach of Itxako:

Finally we have shown that the same teams do not always have to rule Champions League.

=>> Swallow that, Voina!

For the two opponents that we already know I think that Oltchim has improved from last year and Hypo signed a lot of new players, all of them are very good players so we will see what will happen. (Note: they are playing Dinamo, not Hypo)

=>> I have no idea who our opponents are. I just hope we get to kick some Romanian a.. again.

Website Review Part 2: Győri ETO And Itxako

This one, is less about esthetics and more (much more) about information. News is not only up to date, but they are very documented. There is no need to search for it somewhere else, like on They always have interviews after any event, be it winning a trophee or signing a new player. They allow comments. I always enjoy reading this part because it gives me an ideea of how the club is perceived by the spectators. Their photo gallery is complete, but difficult to scroll through, you have to do it page by page. In the end, you’ll get used to it. They have pictures of all outside-the-court activities, like Team Buildings or parties. We first found out about those from Cristina Varzaru, remember? There is not much left to say, only that its simplicity breaths quality.

And now, the best of the best. Itxako has the merit of having discovered Youtube and Facebook and that is what sets them apart from Gyor. Also, the appearence is more playful, but that’s a matter of “Who needs it?”. They have huge photo galleries on Facebook, which is the magic solution to easy browsing!