Viborg’s winning culture analysedArticle
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Why the Danish team dominated this EHF Champions League season.

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Viborg’s winning culture analysed

For the second year in succession, and for the third time within the past five seasons, the Women’s EHF Champions League trophy ended up in Viborg. A 60-52 aggregate win against Romanian champions Oltchim Valcea completed the triumph for Viborg HK. There are several explanations for the Danish club’s repeated successes in Europe’s most prestigious club tournament.

One reason for the triumph year is of course the obvious fact that Viborg got their injured players fit in time for the final matches – and when Viborg are at full strength they are good! Even one of their pregnant players returned just in time. Grit Jurack played the finals only three months after having given birth, and not least in the second leg of the finals she was a crucial factor.

It is also worth considering that unlike many of their competitors in the EHF Champions League, Viborg play in a strong and quite equal domestic league. Many people call the Danish league the strongest women’s league in the world, which is emphasised by the fact that there were Danish teams in three major European Cup finals this season, and two of the Danish finalists won. This quality in the Danish league means that Viborg get under pressure regularly, also in national league games. They are used to remain sharp and keen all the time to avoid defeat. This prepares the players well for the European challenges.

Vestergaard and the winning mentality

What should not be neglected either is the winning culture in Viborg. Over the years, a tradition for winning has been built up in the club, and this has created a confidence and will to win which soon affects all new players in the club also. This winning mentality is often seen in top clubs in all kinds of sports and is one of the reasons, why we so often see the same teams in the top nationally and internationally. In Viborg the current head coach Jakob Vestergaard seems to be particularly good at benefitting from this special mentality. No matter what problems the team has been facing – injuries, pregnancies, financial problems in the club, players being in difficult contract negotiations or players going to leave the club – Vestergaard has apparently always been able to make his players focus on the upcoming tasks.

The Viborg squad is undergoing quite a lot of changes after this season. Several key players are leaving, and although they will, of course, be replaced by others, it is hard to predict, how the "new" Viborg team will function. No one should be surprised, though, if Viborg take the Champions League trophy once again in May 2011.

"We will be there next year also," Viborg director Peter Cassøe claimed after the trophy had been secured in Bucharest. The winning culture, which is so obvious in that club in particular, may very well prove him right.

TEXT: Peter Bruun