Handball Web Streaming this Week (12 to 15 Apr 2021)

Hungarian Cup Final: Live Monday at 1945 CET / 1345 US ET

For regular updates on when and where handball matches can be streamed online follow Team Handball News on social media: Twitter Facebook Instagram

All times are CET which is 6 hours ahead of US ET. Odds courtesy of Bet MGM and/or OddsPortal.

American Athletes in Action

  • Pro Ligue (France)
    • Saran (-6.5) vs Angers (Tuesday, 1900 CET): Video Link
    • Abou Fofana plays left back and defense for Angers
    • Due to positive COVID test results Angers had to pause competition and training. Their welcome back: A road trip to take on 1st place Saran.

Other Matches this Week

  • Hungarian Cup Final
    • Veszprem (-3.5) vs Pick Szeged (Monday, 1945 CET): Video Link
  • EHF European League  ehfTV
    • The quarterfinals start on Tuesday and these teams will be playing 2 matches with the aggregate score for both matches deciding who will advance. These 1st leg matches today are being played at the lower ranked seeds home court so those teams will be looking to try and get a win by as many goals as possible to improve their chances in the 2nd leg next Tuesday.
    • One thing I find interesting about this competition is that is often a good test as to whether the Germany HBL is indeed the best league in the world. Three German sides entered the competition, three German teams remain and are favored to advance to the Final Four. If indeed that happens it’s pretty much impossible to argue against the HBL not being the best league.
    • EHF Preview: Link
    • GOG (-1.5) vs Wisla Plock  (Tuesday, 1845 CET)
    • Chekovskie vs Rhein-Neckar (-2.5) (Tuesday, 1845 CET) 
    • Kristianstad vs Magdeburg (-5.5)  (Tuesday, 1845 CET) 
    • Montpellier (-1.5) vs Berlin (Tuesday, 2045 CET)
  • LIDL Star Ligue (France):  LNH TV 
    • Paris (-10.5) vs Istres (Tuesday, 1800 CET) Video Link
    • Toulouse (-2.5) vs Cesson (Tuesday, 2000 CET) Video Link
    • Tremblay (-0.5) vs Creteil (Wednesday, 1800 CET) Video Link
    • Chartres vs Aix (-1.5) (Wednesday, 2000 CET) Video Link
  • Liga ASOBAL (Spain)LaLigaSportsTV
    • Barcelona (-11.5) vs Irun (Tuesday, 1800 CET) Video Link

Google Trending: What the Data say Regarding all the Recent Handball Buzz

Recent Google Trend Data for “Handball” in the U.S.

The past few months have sure resulted in a lot of handball buzz in the U.S.  Here’s a rundown of the events that have given handball more attention than normal:

  • December:  NBC broadcast the 2019 Women’s World Championships.
  • January:  The 2020 Men’s European Championships were broadcast on beIN Sports and ESPN showed two handball related plays of the day on SportsCenter.
  • January 28:  Jay Cutler sets the handball world on fire with his comments about winning a gold medal on the popular Pardon My Take Podcast.
  • February/March:  Cutlergate results in a slow burn of Twitter spats and handball discussion on other shows like ESPN’s Highly Questionable.  Pardon My Take even devotes an entire segment to discuss handball with former pro, Xavier O’Callaghan.
  • April 13-19:  The NBC Olympic Channel is coaxed by USA Team Handball to essentially turn itself into the handball channel with around 12-16 hours daily of 2019 Men’s and Women’s World Championship match broadcasts.

Quantifying the Buzz

So, anecdotally, there’s little doubt that handball has been granted some extra attention. It can be challenging, however, to quantify the buzz. To get a handle as to what is actually happening in terms of handball interest.

Social media engagement and reach can be tracked. I periodically track followers and likes for the major platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and, no surprise, numbers are up, but not a whole lot more than they would be assuming normal growth platforms. Here’s a simple tabulation of growth since 29 November with the USA Team Handball and Team Handball News social media platforms:

Keep in mind that percentage growth is generally easier when you start. Which explains why the percentage growth for Team Handball News on Instagram looks great when in reality it’s pretty paltry.

Overall, there’s been some decent growth, particularly with Twitter, but it’s hard to guage how much of that can be attributed to growth that would have occurred anyway. And, further, how much of this growth is simply a result of existing handball fans jumping on board? In particular, if your desire is to grow the game in the U.S., it’s kind of hollow to add social media followers from other parts of the world.

Google Trends Data

The best tool I’ve found for tracking interest is Google Trends. Google Trends allows users to see the relative popularity of specific search topics by region for a specified time period. It’s not perfect and it has it’s limitations, but it does provide a pretty good snapshot. After all, how many Americans can remember when and where they typed in “handball” or “team handball” into Google for the first time? It’s probably close to 100% and most folks can remember exactly what triggered their curiosity.

With that in mind here’s some analysis of “handball” searches on Google Trends.

“Handball” Google Trends (USA Only) (1 Dec 2019 – 22 Apr 2020)

Here’s a look at what’s happened since last December.

  • #1 Spike: Sunday, 26 January when the Men’s European Championship finals took place.
  • #2 Spike: This past Sunday when the NBC Olympic Channel broadcast wall to wall coverage of the semifinals and medal matches for both the Men’s and Women’s 2019 World Championships.
  • #3 Spike: 18 December which coincides with the rebroadcast of the Women’s WC final 3 days after it was completed on the NBC Sports Network Channel.
  • Other Spikes: Rounding out the five month period are a number of different spikes which are a bit harder to correlate.

Key Takeaways

  • Men’s handball trumps Women’s handball. Despite being on a network (beIN Sports) seen in fewer home it triggered far more searches.
  • Better TV Networks mean more searches. A late night rebroadcast on the NBC Sports Network trumps both the NBC Olympic Channel and beIN Sports. An existing handball fan always figures out a way to watch the big match. Not so with a newbie. The NBC Sports Network is seen in over twice as many homes as the Olympic Channel and 4 times as many homes as beIN Sports.
  • The Jay Cutler/Pardon My Take Brouhaha did result in a plus up. Those spikes in February/March would not be there otherwise. But those plus ups still aren’t quite as good as TV broadcasts.
Handball” Google Trends (World) (1 Dec 2019 – 22 Apr 2020)

For reference, here’s what happened in the entire world during the same time period. Again, the difference been Men’s and Women’s handball is very pronounced. There are also some small spikes in February and March. Perhaps that’s a knock on effect from the Handball World rising up in anger with Jay Cutler, but it could also be interest generated by the Champions League and other competitions.

“Handball” Google Trends (USA Only) (Apr 2015 – Apr 2020)

Here’s an overview of Google searches for the past 5 years in the U.S..


  • The impact of the Olympics in terms of the interest it generates is unmatched. Really, it’s hard to understate its impact in the U.S.
  • The Men’s WC or EC in January of every year is the only other event that regularly registers. In relative terms to the Olympics, however, it pales in comparison.
  • Moving the WC to the NBC Olympic Channel has helped. The best WC spike occurred in Jan 2019. Not coincidentally, the Olympic Channel is seen in twice as many homes as beIN Sports.
  • Notable soccer handballs also spike… even in the U.S. This demonstrates the challenge handball has in America.
  • The recent NBC Olympic Channel experiment has a nice little spike. It clearly resulted in some more searches and discovery of handball. It would be awesome if that spike was bigger, but I’ll take it. For sure, it’s better than a flat line.
  • The Jay Cutler controversy doesn’t really register. This is not to say it still wasn’t nice to have that engagement, just that it didn’t do as much as we might think it did.
“Handball” Google Trends (World) (Apr 2015 – Apr 2020)

Here’s what the last 5 years look like for the world.

Key Takeaways

  • The Olympics just doesn’t mean as much to the rest of the world. At the Olympics, handball is just another sport and has to fight for interest. Whereas as the annual big tourney in January every year handball takes center stage.
  • Again, the relative interest between Men’s and Women’s handball is very clear. The little spike (Dec) followed by the big spike (Jan) happens like clockwork.

Overall Conclusions

The way we consume and talk about sports is evolving and changing. The cool Instagram clip, the banter on Twitter, cool TikTok videos… That’s how a lot of sports are consumed today. I’ve got two teenage daughters… they’re not big sports fans, but I’ve seen it first hand how big a role social media is playing in their lives.

However, TV is still the king of sports consumption. Whether via traditional networks or streaming outlets, true fans are gained from watching a match. This is not to say social media isn’t important… It is. But, in most cases it’s a reflection of what happens after someone sees handball and discovers it. Not the other way around.

Are the Stars Aligning for a 2028 LA Olympics that could Transform Handball as We Know it in the USA? 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “My dream is not so much just to bring the Olympics here, but is to bring youth sports for free to every zip code.” (Did Mayor Garcetti just set in motion the transformation of handball as we know it in the USA?)

Several recent news reports are signaling that the International Olympic Committee will likely be awarding host city rights to both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics.  Initially, reporting indicated that it was a tossup as to which city, Paris or Los Angeles, would host first in 2024 with both cities insisting that they go first.  Earlier this week, however, the Wall Street Journal indicated that the IOC was leaning towards Paris in 2024 and L.A. in 2028.  And, just yesterday LA Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed that the IOC had asked both Paris and LA what it would take to entice either city to consider delaying Olympic hosting to 2028.  Mayor Garcetti’s response:  Funding now from the IOC to develop youth sports in Los Angeles.

Why I prefer a 2028 L.A. Olympics

While I’m generally inclined to take a sooner than later approach to most things here’s why (from a parochial handball viewpoint) waiting 11 years to host an Olympics is greatly preferable:

  • 7 years isn’t enough time to build competitive national teams. If you’ve read a few of my commentaries and analysis this should be painfully obvious.  The current talent pool of available players in this country is ridiculously thin and our grass roots programs are too small to create a talent pool of world class athletes in 7 years.
  • A 2024 Olympics will force spending towards the top of the pyramid. Because the U.S. can’t possibly build a competitive national team through its current talent pool and grass roots in time for the 2024 Olympics an inordinate amount of resources will be spent at the top of the pyramid.  In other words an aggressive campaign will be launched to identify, recruit and train talented cross over athletes in the 22-25 age range.  As, I’ve written ad nauseam this is an outdated, short sighted strategy that is currently working very poorly for USA Team Handball.  A guaranteed Olympics, though, should improve recruiting and change “very poorly” to either “poorly” or “passable.”  The U.S. won’t win any medals, but it’s possible that teams that won’t embarrass too greatly could be built.
  • 11 years provides more time to work grass roots and potentially transform the sport in this country. Eleven years might be just enough time to implement a targeted plan to develop a talent pool, fan base and set the sport on a trajectory of further growth.  Of course, more time will be needed for a soccer or lacrosse expansion across the U.S., but 11 years could set things in motion.
  • The stars may be aligning to push USA Team Handball in the right direction. With near term Olympic qualification unlikely and 2028 qualification guaranteed it becomes even more logical to focus on grass roots efforts that will support efforts to build a quality 2028 team.  Herculean efforts to qualify near term simply won’t make sense.  Further, with the LA Mayor calling on the IOC to provide funding for youth sports in exchange for delaying to 2028 grass roots efforts just got further impetus.

The Outline of an 11 Year Plan

It’s early yet, but I can already see the outline of an 11 year plan to transform the sport in L.A. and eventually the rest of the country.  Here are some elements that might make up such a plan.  (And, if this looks familiar that’s because I’ve outlined similar possibilities before:  The Iceland Strategy)

  • USA Team Handball aggressively moves on Mayor Garcetti’s youth sports dream and a plan to develop youth handball in the Los Angeles area is adopted. It won’t be idle talk to talk up the possibility of LA’s youth eventually making an Olympic handball team for an LA Olympics.
  • IOC support is used as leverage to secure additional funding from the USOC, Olympic sponsors, the IHF and other handball entities
  • Youth leagues are re-established with the Boys & Girls Club of Southern California
  • The LA Unified School District agrees to sanction team handball as an official sport
  • Middle School and High School leagues are funded and established
  • A Southern California college league is funded and established
  • Partial scholarships are awarded to encourage high school athletes to continue playing handball
  • Top players from around the U.S. move to the L.A. area to further their development as players
  • A regional training facility is established in Southern California. Top players from each age group receive additional training to supplement their club/school practices.
  • Top players are given assistance in the placement of clubs in Europe (The first batch of players arrive around 2022)
  • The U.S. Men and Women close the gap with Argentina and Brazil such that they start qualifying for the WC, but fall sort of Olympic Qual for 2024
  • A handful of top players advance toward the upper professional ranks
  • The U.S. fields rosters at the 2028 Olympics with roughly half their athletes as full time professionals

And, I haven’t even included what might be done regarding beach handball…

Yes, this is an ambitious strawman plan for eleven years time. Yes, it can’t be done without substantial funding.  But, I don’t think it’s a pipe dream because thanks to Mayor Garcetti’s dream it just might be doable.

Interesting interview with Ralf Uhding

A few days ago, the German web site Handball-World published an interview with Ralf Uhding. http://www.handball-world.com/o.red.c/news.php?GID=1&auswahl=26283 He is a member of the Supervisory Board of the German Bundesliga and he is also on the Board of Directors with USATeam Handball. In other words, he brings a wealth of handball experience but he has also taken a very special interest in the task of developing handball in the U.S.

The interview has a strong emphasis on the much anticipated exhibition game between Germany and Poland in Chicago on July 17. But there is also a focus on the overall situation for handball in the U.S., and it is then reassuring to note that Ralf Uhding clearly has made an effort to get to understand the realities of the situation in the U.S., which is very different from what he has been used to in Germany.
In the past it has been more common that handball experts from abroad have offered ideas and solutions without first taking the trouble to understand the basics.

This is obviously very important in a situation where USA Team Handball has concluded that bilateral agreements with top European handball countries is a much more realistic way of obtaining support than the seeming illusionary approach of hoping for a serious collaboration with the IHF.

USA Women to Compete in Div I PATHF Championship

USA Team Handball has announced that the USA women will compete in the upcoming Pan American Team Handball Federations (PATHF) Div I Championships. The competition is scheduled to be held in Mexico City starting on the 22nd of November. USA participation had been uncertain due to financial and resource limitations involved with the start up of the new Federation.

The first and second place teams from this tournament will qualify for the 2009 PATHF Championship next spring. At this time it is uncertain which nations will participate in the Div I tournament. In addition to the USA and Mexico other potential nations participating include Cuba, Greenland, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Chile.

USA Team Handball Announcement: http://www.usateamhandball.org/news/index.html?article_id=41
2009 World Championship Qualification: http://teamhandballnews.com/page25.html

U.S. 2009 Championship Tournament Planning

USA Team Handball has announced that it is accepting bids for it’s 2009 Championship tournaments. In doing so, potential dates for those tournaments have been revealed. The Club Championship tournament has been scheduled for 1-3 May and the Collegiate Championships have been scheduled for either 3-5 April or 10-12 April.

USA Team Handball GM, Steve Pastorino, also confirmed to Team Handball News that the 2009 Club Championship will be open tournaments with no pre tournament qualification. Qualification is planned to be fully implemented for the 2009-2010 season. Pastorino also indicated that he met with several city representatives at a recent USOC sponsored conference for hosting National Governing Body (NGB) events and is optimistic that the Federation will receive 2-3 competitive bids.

USA Team Handball Bid Announcement: http://www.usateamhandball.org/news/index.html?article_id=40

Sharks' Ortega signs professional contract

[link=http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.590]As reported a few weeks ago[/link], former marquee Miami Sharks and USMNT centerback Mark Ortega, was offered a professional contract from the recently promoted Norweagian first division club, ALTA.

From the [link=http://www.miamisharksteamhandball.org/]Miami Sharks website[/link]:

"Miami Shark center back Mark Ortega has signed a contract to play for Norwegian First Division team Alta IF. Ortega will begin his second season with a professional squad after playing one season in Spain with a club out of Santander. Ortega was one of the first members of the Miami Sharks squad and Head Coach and owner Cristian Zaharia has helped him develop into an all around player. "Mark is a very good athlete and he works hard," Coach Zaharia said. "I am very proud of him and I look forward to seeing him succeed with Alta IF. Mark is a fine product of the Miami Sharks organization, where grass roots are very important and hard work, discipline, dedication and team spirit are criteria we are based on. All our members should be very proud of this achievement, because without his teammates, Mark would not have been able to progress as he did."
Ortega has also been a member of the United States National Team, competing in several International Competitions."

Congratulations are in order to coach Zaharia and Mark Ortega. Two genuine proefssionals.

USA Team Handball General Manager Blog

Steve Pastorino, the new General Manager for USA Team Handball, has started a blog on the USOC's new teamusa.org site. In his first post he highlights some of the Federation's recent startup activity and indicates that they should have a new website up soon. He also indicates that he intends to use the blog to regularly update the USA Handball community on Federation activities.

Steve Pastorino on Handball Blog: http://handball.teamusa.org/blog/blog/143

And, if you'd like to get an idea of the new General Manager’s interests outside of handball you can check out his personal blog here: http://notjustahatrack.typepad.com/not_just_a_hat_rack/

Minutes from St. Louis.

For those of you who missed the big team handall "summit", [link=/docs/Minutes.pdf]here are the minutes[/link] from the historic meeting.
Upon reading these minutes you may find yourself frowning, smiling, rolling your eyes over, pondering, chuckling, cursing! Whatever you do, know that you had the choice to be there.

There was no drama at the Omni Hotel in downtown St. Louis. JR has summed up the meeting excellently in his article. It was indeed a meeting of the minds as promised and advertised. Everyone had the opportunity to express his or her feelings.
Texas was well represented by Dede Piankova, Nathalie Dorner, Bogdan Pasat, Riyo Shigihara and Oscar Grisales. Chicago sent Florin and Felix, Santa Clarita had Karl (who also had the back of all the Cali clubs), West Point had two reps. Even the DITC had one representative to Berkholz's delight!:)

WNT had Dawn, T and Sarah. THN had JR and me. Nobody from UNC, ATL, NY.

Other than Steve Pastorino's General Manager and Amir Haskic Techincal Director's positions, the rest of them (paid or otherwise) are on standby – until further notice.

How is that for a teaser? Wink.

USA Team Handball Summit Invitation.


[link=/docs/Invite.pdf] [img]/docs/Invitea.jpg[/img] [/link]

[b]Dear Handball Friends,
Mr. Dieter Esch, President, USA Team Handball, invites you to attend the inaugural
Team Handball ”THE FUTURE IS NOW” Summit, to be hosted in St. Louis, MO., June 13-15.
The Summit will be a meeting of the US handball community. It will address the future
direction of the sport. The Summit is open to everyone; from club representatives,
coaches, referees and players, to friends of the sport interested in the challenges ahead.
President Esch requests that if there are any issues that you would like to discuss, to
please forward them to [link=mailto:amirhaskic@gmail.com]Amir Haskic[/link].
Additionally, please RSVP to [link=mailto:amirhaskic@gmail.com]Amir Haskic[/link] as well.
Plan to arrive in St. Louis by 4:00 PM on Friday, June 13.
Plan to depart after 2:00 PM on Sunday, June 15.
Summit details will be forwarded shortly, including hotel information and Summit agenda.
Make your flight reservations ASAP!
See you in St. Louis![/b]


Dieter Esch: The Handball Missionary from Germany

Below is a translation (courtesy Bjoern Brembs) of an article that appeared in the German publication Handelsblatt:

The Handball Missionary from Germany

By Hans Weymar, May 13, 2008

COLOGNE. If the often so critical German publication "Manager Magazin" describes someone as "one of the most illustrious and probably one of the most successful corporate personalities of the last decade", then one would think that the public would remember his name. In the case of Horst-Dieter Esch, this did not happen.

The lines hyping Esch's success were written in 1982. Esch's r ise as the son of an engineering fitter-machinist to CEO of the construction-machine corporation IBH in Mainz earned him the image of a prodigy. IBH was buying and buying and the "Economist" called this expansion "Esch-pansion".

One year later everything was over. IBH became bankrupt in one of the most spectacular cases of post-war Germany. At the end all that was left was about a billion Deutschmarks of debt, and the private Bank Schröder, Münchmeyer & Hengst which had lent about 900 million to IBH almost went down with it. In 1984 a regional court in Koblenz found Esch guilty of fraud and sentenced him to six and a half years. In 1988 he was released and shortly thereafter he emigrated to the USA. There, he bought the modeling agency Wilhelmina and did well. Super Models such as Linda Evangelista were among his clients. Germany? Far away.

In the coming months Esch's name may be heard in his home country once again. The man who now calls Park City, Utah his home is looking to drum up support for the Teutonic game of handball from corporate sponsors to conquer the world's most important sports market. "I have decided to make handball popular in the US" said Esch to the Handelsblatt.

The first leg, says the 65 year-old with some pride, has already accomplished: "For the last two weeks I've been the president of the US handball federation". Esch, who claims to have played field-handball as a goalie for club TV Weingarten, suggests in the phone-interview that the handball-scene has been waiting for someone like him: "the handball community here is breathing a sigh of relief".

Well, maybe not the entire community. His past did provoke some rather hefty debates on the few fan-forums. The US Olympic Committee is quoted on the online news-service, Teamhandballnews, that they vetted Esch in two separate background checks: "In this process, Mr. Esch was completely open and transparent and more than cooperative concerning all the necessary information."

A year and a half ago a friend told him of the desolate state US-handball was in: "As a good German, I of course immediately asked: where are the structures? Where is the federation?" There was very little of that. The USOC was merely managing the third rate national teams. Esch now wants to build everything from the ground up, starting with a meeting of all concerned parties from June 13-15 in St. Louis.

Esch is not the first one trying to build enthusiasm in the US for handball. The efforts by the world-federation IHF have all miserably failed. The problem: "Team Handball" as the sport is called in the USA, is as exotic there as the German/Dutch sport of bosseln ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klootschieten ) is here. The German still believes he has a chance: "In the summer, the big Basketball arenas are empty". One would need to convince owners and investors to let people play handball there during this time. "There already is quite some interest in this idea".

Esch's partner Dennis Berkholtz, a member of the 1972 USA-Team at the Olympics in Munich, is estimating that eight million dollars would be needed to get a professional league going for two years, featuring European players. "The German players should play for New York and the Polish for Chicago", says Berkholtz. Esch adds that eight million dollars will not be enough, it's only a start.

The question is, who would invest so much money? Handball sponsors from Europe, both Esch and Berkholtz affirm. Especially sponsors from the handball heartland Germany: "Once we have managed to get the appropriate structures running here, I will focus my attention towards Germany and Europe", says Esch. Adidas, Nike and Puma are supposed to be the first targets.

If these corporations will commit to such a risky investment is doubtful, given Mr. Esch's past. Esch, however, affirms he doesn't want to make any money from handball: "Handball is not a business for me, Handball is my hobby".

Editor's Note: Feel free to discuss this topic in the Forum