Continuity is the secret in LarvikArticle
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How the club from a small Norwegian town remain among Europe's elite

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Continuity is the secret in Larvik

It was never written in the stars that Larvik Håndballklub should be dominating Norwegian women´s handball year after year and be at or near the top of Europe every year too.

The historical town of Larvik on the south east coast of Norway has a population of a bit more than 42,000. That is about a third of Györ’s population, the city which Larvik's opponents in the upcoming Women’s EHF Champions League finals, Györi Audi ETO, come from.

One of the town’s most famous sons is the explorer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, and these days, the handball women are the town’s famous daughters. According to Tor Odvar Moen, sports director in Larvik HK, the secret behind the club´s ongoing success is continuity.

“Continuity on the court, even though there will inevitably be some changes in the team along the way and not least continuity outside the court too.

“Not only have we had the largest administration among Norwegian handball clubs for several years, we have also managed to keep the same people in the crucial positions,” Tor Odvar Moen told

“We have also been good at securing continuity on the court, and we are rather proud that we manage year after year to have a team at this level at a budget which I considerably lower than many of our rivals on the European stage.

“We have been good at developing players, and many of the talents we have drafted, have become Norwegian internationals after joining us,” Moen added.

Nevertheless, it costs money to run a handball club at this level and it takes support from the local community, from sponsors and spectators, and the support is there, according to Moen.

The pride of the town

“I think you might say that the club is the pride of the town. While there is certain satiety when it comes to the domestic league, the support is always there when we play European matches.

“However, we also have a good brand outside the town. We know that when people from Larvik are travelling and are asked where they come from, they are always met with the words “the town with the great handball team”, when they say that there are from Larvik,” said Moen.

His words are confirmed by Rune Høiseth, mayor of the city of Larvik.

“It means a lot to Larvik to have the handball team in international top class. LHK and the girls are marketing Norway and Larvik in a very positive way. They are fine ambassadors for the local society and not least for the sport,” Rune Høiseth told

Success is no surprise

Obviously, the basis for running a handball club at an international level was helped considerably, when the club began using the new Arena Larvik into use in the autumn of 2009. The arena has a capacity of more than 4000 spectators for handball matches.

“Of course, it has meant a lot, not least to marketing efforts, and we have also got better facilities for sponsors as well as for fans and spectators. Our old home ground, Bergslihallen was fine for handball, but obviously the surroundings in the new arena are a great improvement, so we are really grateful to the town and the region for having built this arena as a joint venture project,” emphasised Moen.

Injuries and pregnancies have meant that head coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad had only had 15 players at his disposal for most of the season, but the fact that the Larvik have now reached the final for the second time within three years comes as no surprise inside the club.

“I would not say that it comes as a surprise to us. Back in the autumn, even before the start of the group stage, we set our goal to at least be among the contenders for a place in the final.

“We felt that we had the team to get that far and the course of the tournament has proven us right. Even though we lost to Györ twice in the Main Round, I think we also have a fairly good chance in the finals against them.

“Actually, we managed to hang on to them very well most of the time in both Main Round matches, but there were some periods in both matches, where we fell out of the game.

“If we can eliminate those periods in the finals, we have a good chance of repeating our triumph from 2011. After having seen what Valcea could accomplish against Györ in the semi-final, we do not see the mission as being impossible, even though Györ will have to live with the role as favourites,” concluded Tor Odvar Moen.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor