German Federation and Bundesliga striving for stronger cooperation

Last weekend, the German Handball Federation (DHB) celebrated its Congress.  It appears to have taken place in an atmosphere of both continuity and important efforts to achieve change.  The continuity was reflected in re-elections in all the key positions, including the continuation of Ulrich Strombach as President.  But a new spirit seems to be emerging, both in the relations between the DHB and the Bundesliga (HBL) and in the attitudes involving the cooperation between clubs and national teams.

A new contract between DHB and HBL regarding cooperation for the next several years was signed on the occasion of the Congress.   This contract specifies the number of days that players are to be released for national team duty in each year.  The DHB has also undertaken to support the wishes of the HBL to reduce the number of ‘big events’ in each four-year cycle from five to four; currently there are two World Championships and two European Championships in addition to the Olympic Games.

Heiner Brand, who has now been appointed Sports Manager of DHB after resigning as coach from the men’s national team, also presented his ideas for a more systematic approach in bringing young talents into a common German vision for the national teams at all levels.  The two national team coaches for men and women, Martin Heuberger and Heine Jensen, expressed appreciation for the support from clubs in connection with recent events.

As regards Germany’s role on the international scene, interviews with Ulrich Strombach reflected a wish for a stronger German position in the management and development of handball.  Strombach also commented on the need for the IHF and EHF to become more generous in sharing the revenues from the big events, after the principle of compensation was recently introduced but at a rather modest level.  Strombach also caused a stir with a notion that it should not be taken for granted that the top countries would be satisfied with a participation in European Championships unless conditions are improved.  He noted that separates events involving more frequent encounters between the top teams might be a very attractive alternative…