A German yachtsman in Swedish handballArticle
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BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Former German sailing coach Rüdiger Osterloh is now Champions League manager in Swedish IK Sävehof.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Women's News

A German yachtsman in Swedish handball

It is probably not an exaggeration to say that Rüdiger Osterloh's life in sport has undergone some changes along the way.

In 1976, he was coach of the German crew (pictured right standing) in boat type 470 at the Olympic sailing contests in Montreal, where the German team won the gold medal.

These days the 63-year-old German sports teacher is Champions League manager in the Swedish handball club IK Sävehof, whose women's team is currently in the main round of the EHF Champions League for the first time ever.

Some would say that there is a certain gap between sailing and handball, but the explanation is quite simple in Rüdiger Osterloh's case.

“As I was studying to become a sports teacher at the Sport High Scholl in Cologne, handball was not among the sports which were available, so I chose sailing instead and ended by being coach of the German 470 team from 1972 to 1976, finishing with the Olympic gold medal in 1976,” explains Rüdiger Osterloh, whose career in sailing is now history.

“I have sailed a little 470 myself since then, but when you get a family, and your children grow up, you inevitably lack the time,” he says.

Love moves in mysterious ways

Speaking of family, this is also the explanation to the fact that a former German sailing coach ended up in Sweden, running a handball club.

“It was love that drove me to Sweden back then in 1976,” reveals Rüdiger Osterloh who met a Swedish girl, Stina back then.

Stina is now his wife and also working in IK Sävehof. Rüdiger himself has been involved in the club since the early 80ties.

“I used to coach a girls team, when my own daughter played there. These days I am Champions League manager in the club which means that I am responsible for everything related to the international matches the club is involved in, whether it is men or women, the contact to the EHF and everything else in connection with our participation in the European competitions,” says Rüdiger Osterloh who is working as an IT consultant beside his job in IK Sävehof.

Boosting women's handball in Sweden

As mentioned above, Sävehof are in the main round of the Women's EHF Champions League this season.

It is the first time in history that the club near Gothenburg has made it that far in women's handball, and in Rüdiger Osterloh's opinion this does not only mean something to the club itself, but to women's handball in Sweden in general.

“I think our achievements are boosting the self-confidence in Swedish women's handball. In the past we often saw a tendency among Swedish women's teams to give in, when it came to European competitions, but lately I think we have seen Swedish teams believing more in themselves when facing those European challenges. We have seen that with H 65 and Skuru (in the Challenge Cup) for instance.

“Furthermore, I believe that the international experience, we and other Swedish teams get from playing these European matches, is of great value.

“We have also learned that we have to train differently from what we are used to in order to be able to compete at this level. Our training has to be more focused and purposive, and when I see us draw against Krim and Vardar – even after having been leading with four or five goals – I can see that we are already benefitting from this way of training, and that we can compete with best teams on our best days,” says Osterloh who can see his own team being last in Group 1 of the main round with one point, three points behind Thüringer HC in that second position which will give access to the Women's EHF Final4 in Budapest.

“Of course, the chance of reaching the Final4 is still there, but at the very least, we will have to win our two remaining home matches (against Thüringer HC and FC Midtjylland) and we will probably have to beat Thüringer by at least six goals after having lost by five in Germany,” says Rüdiger Osterloh.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br