Brihault: “Women’s handball is going to bridge the gap”Article
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EHF President speaks with about the ongoing development of women's handball.

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Brihault: “Women’s handball is going to bridge the gap”

EHF President talks about the development and the measures which have been taken to raise the interest in female handball in Europe
On the fringes of the Women’s EHF Champions League Final in Veszprém, where he handed over the trophy to the new winner Győri Audi ETO KC, EHF President Jean Brihault analysed the situation of women’s handball in Europe.

In this interview with the Frenchmen, who had been elected in June 2012 in Monaco as new EHF President, talks about the newly installed Women’s Handball Board and the opportunity to have a future final four tournament in the Women’s EHF Champions League. One year ago the Women’s Handball Board was implemented at the EHF Congress in Monaco. How do things stand eleven months later?

Jean Brihault: The implementation of this political board was corresponding with the hard work in other departments. It became a positive conjunction of highly motivated people with top level experience in women’s handball.

The first aim of the Women’s Handball Board was to create ideas in a process of brainstorming and then turning them into projects, supported, not only financially, by the EHF. Now we are very satisfied with the outcome and the good atmosphere and relationships between all stakeholders in this group. Which additional measures were taken by EHF?

Jean Brihault: The EHF have installed the professional base by implementing a new job in the office, only dealing with women’s handball and the Women’s Handball Board.

We found the perfect person with Alenka Cuderman, a former top class player and later delegate with the business knowledge of a bank manager. She is coordinating all sections; she is the interface between all parts of this project working on the female perspective of handball. So she is not only connected to the Women’s Handball Board, but of course to EHF Marketing.

All those tasks are not easy to handle, but she is working on all steps from idea to project to implementation. One major idea to increase the promotion of women’s handball is the implementation of a final four tournament in the Women’s EHF Champions League. What is the current status of this plan?

Jean Brihault: This idea has been discussed intensively and everybody is delighted, so maybe there will be the opportunity to implement a final four tournament with semi-finals and finals on one weekend in the Women’s EHF Champions League already next season. We have potential partners who are interested in this project, so I see good chances for this tournament to come. What is your opinion about the recently finished 2012/13 Women’s EHF Champions League season?

Jean Brihault: This level was terrific. In combination with the outcome of the Women’s Handball Board and all efforts of the clubs you see a clear step forward, having already effects of synergy. The Women’s Champions League made a significant step forward. Another major competition for the development of women’s handball is the EHF EURO. What do you expect of the 2014 edition in Hungary and Croatia?

Jean Brihault: We have two highly experienced organizers with a long handball tradition. Both have highly excited groups of fans. Hungary is well-known for their women’s handball events, while in Croatia the interest in women’s handball is rapidly increasing. When you were elected as EHF President in 2012, one of your mottos was “to bridge the gap between men’s and women’s handball. How far have you come?

Jean Brihault (laughing): Firstly, this does not mean to decrease the level of men’s handball. To be honest: we made big steps in women’s handball and I believe in the next two seasons we will make even more progress to bridge this gap. What can the EHF and national federations do to increase the interest in women’s handball in certain countries?

Jean Brihault: The Women’s Handball Board just finished a survey among all EHF Member Federations and additionally among all players participating at the 2012 EHF EURO in Serbia about the interest in women’s handball in their countries and how to increase it.

After analyzing the result the Women’s Handball Board will give individual proposals for the member federations and the EHF what could be done to increase the interest. The EHF cannot raise the interest without the national federations. There is a great deal of interest among the federations to cooperate for the benefit of women’s handball.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br