Normally, my handball viewing options are an internal debate between watching the best scheduled HBL match of the week at HBL.tv www.hbl.tv or one of the Champions League matches at EHFtv www.ehftv.com. I like the Champions League better, but the video quality with my HBL.tv subscription is far better. So Lemgo – Rhein Neckar or Kiel – Ciudad Real? Well, how about Berlin – Essen instead?
Yes, I couldn’t resist the novelty of watching the British foreign legion play in their first scheduled match on HBL.tv. Certainly, novelty is all that the scheduled match had going for it as Essen is stuck in last place and Berlin is an improving side trying to crack into the top tier of the Bundesliga.
It’s clear from watching the match that the Brits are truly being given a unique opportunity to play in the World’s best league. All 5 player with Essen saw action and 3 of them scored. Merlin Braithwaite scored two and Sebastian Prieto and Chris McDermott each scored one. The game was never in doubt as Essen lost 35-21. Based on previous scorelines this match was some improvement and perhaps they will pick up some points against one of the other “also rans” later in the season. Additionally, the Brits are being given a great opportunity to be seen as players and it’s possible that they might latch on with another club. Maybe not in the HBL, but in one of the lower leagues.
Handball clubs should also take note of the potential marketing opportunities that foreign players could bring to their club. It’s not a coincidence that the San Antonio Spurs (avec Tony Parker) is shown on TV in France more than any other club. Should an American ever reach Bundesliga stardom there would be at least a trickle of paid subscriptions to watch his matches via web streaming. I like watching great handball no matter who‘s play, but there’s something special about watching a compatriot make good. In the mean time I’ll check in on the Brits to see how they are doing this season.
For more on the Brits in Essen check out this in-depth interview at Handball-World.com: