Stenmalm looking forward to the European challengeArticle
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One of Sweden´s many young handball talents, Philip Stenmalm from HK DROTT Halmstad expects to develop a lot from playing in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

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Stenmalm looking forward to the European challenge

Ever heard of Philip Stenmalm? If not, you are likely not to forget him soon. Not only is the 21-year-old left back one of Sweden’s many handball talents at present, the 2 meter tall HK DROTT Halmstad player was awarded Most Valuable Player at the Junior World Championship this summer, where he won gold with the Swedes.

“He is a really big talent, of whom you will hear much more in future,” Halmstad´s head coach Ulf Sivertsson previously told, and there is every reason to believe him.

Despite the large expectations on him, Stenmalm keeps both feet on the ground, though.

“Obviously, it was a great honor to be awarded MVP at the World Championship, as it is a proof that you have done something good in the tournament.

“However, it was fine to get back to daily day life in the club, even though it was also some kind of a change. When you are away with the national team, you begin to long to get home at a certain point, although it is great fun to be at such a tournament. So it was good to come home and meet my teammates again,” Philip Stenmalm told about his busy summer.

In the past two weekends he had new challenges to attend to, as he and his teammates from Swedish champions HK DROTT Halmstad met the champions of Luxembourg, Handball Esch, in a two legged play-off to qualify for the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

With five goals, Stenmalm made his contribution to Halmstad’s aggregate win of 63:44 after two extremely different matches.

A 30:26 away defeat in the first leg gave Halmstad plenty to be concerned about, but they cruised to the group phase with a 37:14 win in the Halmstad Arena.

Big name opponents

This means that Stenmalm, who joined Halmstad from Växjö HK in 2011, and the other DROTT players can look forward to meeting Danish champions Aalborg Håndbold, German top team SG Flensburg-Handewitt, reigning VELUX EHF Champions League winners HSV Hamburg and Slovenian side Gorenje Velenje as well as Naturhouse la Rioja from Spain in Group D and young Stenmalm is looking forward to that experience.

“It will be really fantastic experience, and at the same time it will be a great chance to show oneself and to get some international experience which is very important,” he said.

Considering his recent success, it comes as no surprise that he dreams of the senior national team in Sweden, and also of joining a European top club, maybe in the German Bundesliga, but still he keeps his feet on the ground.

“Obviously I am dreaming of the senior team, but there are so many good players that it will be difficult to get that far. However, I want to see how far my handball can take me – try to reach as high a level as possible and simply do my best all the time.

“To go abroad and play for a good club there is definitely also my ambition. The Bundesliga is the strongest league right now, so it would be fantastic to play there,” admitted Stenmalm.

But first it is all about the European campaign for him and the debutants from Halmstad.

Photo credit: Linda Carlsson / Lisa Fallhagen

TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor