20 years after the last World Championship on home ground – crowned with a bronze medal – and ten years after the last silver ware at World Championships – again bronze, this time at Paris – the German women’s handball team again want to grab a medal. With the support from the stands, the team captains Clara Woltering and Anna Loerper and their team hope to make it to the final weekend at Hamburg at their World Championship on home ground.
Since last Sunday, the German side has started their final preparations, first at Rotenburg, then at Leverkusen. On 24 November (at Bratislava against Slovakia) and 25 November (at Dresden against Iceland) they will play their final test matches, for which head coach Michael Biegler will nominate 20 players – to have enough options for the World Championship, which Germany will throw-off with the opening match against Cameroon on 1 December. Besides, Germany will face Korea, Serbia, China and the EURO and World Championship runners-up Netherlands in group D at Leipzig.
„We only focus on those matches of the preliminary round and try to reach a perfect base for the rest of the tournament,“ says Loerper, who – like Woltering – had been part of the bronze winning team in 2007. “But our main goal is to make it to Hamburg, to clinch the berth for the final weekend,” adds the TuS Metzingen playmaker and current German handball player of the year. She shares the hopes of the German Handball Federation to bring girls’ and women’s handball ahead with a successful Germany 2017 event: “I hope for full arenas, for a great atmosphere and exciting games. If we manage this, we can increase the popularity and can cause a real boom.”
In April 2016, Michael Biegler took over the team, now named “the Biegler Ladies”. In cooperation with Wolfgang Sommerfeld, sports director of the German federation, he established and implemented a plan with a first aim spotted on the World Championship and secondly a long-term focus on a sustainable development to remain among the globally top teams. In a first step and after some great performances they reached the intermediate goal by the sixth position at the 2016 EUERO in Sweden.
Biegler transfered his enthusiasm and meticulosity on the players: „We all share this huge anticipation on the event since month, and we want to transfer this enthusiasm on the fans. The ‘Ladies project’ is a great project, and though I have been part of some many World and European championships, a major tournament on home ground is something very special,” says goalkeeper Clara Woltering, the internationally most successful current German national team player, winning the Champions League twice with Podgorica.
For Woltering, the team is well prepared: „We count on a superb team spirit, as I have never recognized in any other team before. Besides, we have a team with interesting options. We are on fire, and we want to electrify the audience with our fire.” The only player missing is Anne Hubinger, who is ruled out for Germany 2017 with a severe foot injury.
To make the dream of the ticket to Hamburg come true, Woltering hopes for frenetic support from the stands: „I love to be on court in huge, full arenas, it really pushes me to the limit. I still remember this crowd of 12,000 in Paris-Bercy, when we took the bronze medal in 2007. You just think: They all came to see me play – and then you want to pay them off. I am sure the fans in Leipzig will have the same anticipation than we have.”
Already three times in 2017, the „Ladies“ could prepare in huge, fully packed arenas to get a taste, of what they hope for during Germany 2017 – always in combination with test matches of the German men team in Hamburg, Berlin and Magdeburg. “I hope the fans will be a crucial factor for us, we count on enthusiasm, but we also want to hand it back to the fans,” says Emily Bölk. Her mother Andrea already showed her daughter how to make it – she was part of the 1993 German squad, which was the last one to become world champions.