Interview over WK met bondscoach Helle Thomsen

Door: Ariadna Cañameras

How do you face the World Championship? Will this be the year when the Netherlands gets its first gold?

I think it will be a fantastic WC: there are a lot of good players and teams. For the Netherlands, it can be hard. We miss some players from last year (that are injured or pregnant) and some of our key players don’t have the same level of the last years because they have been injured or pregnant.

What strategy did the federation follow so that you would go from fighting to participate to fighting for medals?

When I arrive to the Netherlands they were already fighting for medals, so for me there wasn’t a big change.

You won a bronze with Sweden and a silver with the Netherlands. What do you think is what makes you a successful coach?

It is important to say that both teams have really good players and they both play as a team, so I don’t think it was because of me but because of the hard work of the players. And when you have a team that believes in the way you want to play, then it is easier to go and get success.

Why did you decide to venture into the training of the Netherlands?

When the Netherland called me I was surprised, but I thought they had an exciting team with players that play the way I like to play. So, after just ONE meeting with the federation, it was very easy for me to say yes and to accept the job. And I’ve never regreted it. I’m glad to be a part of this team and this federation.

Which are the three favorite teams to win the title? Why Norway has won 24 medals in 24 years?

I think Norway and France will be the teams that will fight for the gold medal in this WC. But for sure Germany, Russia, Denmark and more teams will be on the top. Germany is playing home and it has spent a lot of days together during the last year. France is strong in defence and it has a lot of good players, and it always plays well in tournaments. Norway have been good making new good players every year, it has a lot of money and facilities to create really good players (inside and outside the court) and it has had good trainers and leaders around the team.

What is the best and most complicated thing about training national teams? How do you combine the training of two top world teams?

The best is that you can train the best players in de world, and that is a privilege. Combining both teams is not that difficult because we know the program ahead, so it’s easy to plan the year. I like to be in a good club team and a national team and I feel lucky to have this chance.

How is it to have players like Neagu in your team?

Neagu is a fantastic player and a wonderful person too. She can do things that other players can’t do, so it’s good to have players like her in our team.

Bucuresti has already won the Champions… It is designed to repeat that victory. Is it a requirement of the club, to reach Final4? Which are the three favorites for the Champions title?

If you have the good players that we have in CSM, of course your goal must be to reach the Final4. But we know we must play well to get to the Final4: there are a lot of good teams, and if you play a bad game, maybe you couldn’t reach the Final4. I see Vardar and Györ as the two farvorites, but also Rostov, FTC, Metz and ourselves can get to the Final4, and when you are there, then all can happen.

You are one of the few women coaches in the world handball’s elite. Why do you think it happens?

I think in the whole world, there are more men having a top job than women. I think sometimes women stop too early and don’t take the last step to have a top job. I think more women must go for it, and don´t stop when it starts to be difficult. My job is fantastic, and I think more women must dream bigger and go for it.

We are in 2017 and the best men player in the world is still earning five, six or seven times more money than the best women player in the world. When will these differences end?

I don’t think these differences will end soon. But I don’t think we shall compare other’s salaries. You must take a job if you like it and you are satisfied with the contract; if you aren’t satisfied, then don´t say yes to the job. For me it doesn’t matter what other coaches’ salaries are as long as I’m satisfied with what I do.

How would you define yourself as a coach?

I hope my players think I’m a good coach and they know that they can trust me. I try to be honest, serious, prepared, enthusiastic and be always 100% concentrated.