The best season of my careerArticle
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Feature: Women's EHF Champions League legend Tanja Logvin looks back on her European adventures and her title winning year in 2000

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The best season of my career

Tatjana Logvin does not hesitate when she thinks back at the 1999/2000 season when she won the Women's EHF Champions League with Hypo Niederösterreich.

“We managed the entire season more or less with only nine field players, but all were world class players, and we formed the Austrian national team at the same time.

“We had just won the bronze medal at the 1999 World Championship, and then we won the Champions League in 2000. It really was the best season in my career, but we also worked hard to achieve our triumphs.

"We trained twice a day and we trained hard. You might say it was a bit like a military camp, but it was worth it. It is not always easy to make a lot of world class players work together, but we managed,” 39-year-old Tatjana Logvin remembers about the season, where Hypo Niederösterreich won the finest club tournament for the last time so far, completing their fine Champions League campaign by defeating Kometal Skopje clearly.

After a 32:23 win at home in Vienna, a 22:20 defeat in the return match in the Macedonian capital could not ruin their happiness.

The Real Madrid of women's handball

From Hypo Niederösterreich, Tatjana Logvin moved on to another European top club, Krim Ljubljana in 2003.

“We also had a very good team in Krim in those days, with probably 14 world class players. People used to call us the Real Madrid of women's handball because of that,” she recalls with a smile.

“We reached the Champions League final again, but lost by five goals to Slagelse. One goal away (25:24) and four goals at home (36:32)," Tatjana Logvin remembers about the season which marked the beginning of the Slagelse era in women's top handball. That is a different story, however, to be told at another time.

After a year in Krim, Tatjana was back in Hypo Niederösterreich in 2004, and in her comeback season she became top scorer of the Champions League with 85 goals, while Hypo reached the semi-final.

‘If you cannot beat them, join them’, and old saying goes. In the 2005/06 season, Logvin and her teammates from Hypo were sent out the Champions League by Aalborg DH in the quarter-final, and Aalborg was exactly the club, she joined the following season.

A major change

“It was really a big change for me to move to Denmark and Aalborg. I grew up in Zaporozhye which is a big city in Ukraine, and I lived many years in Vienna which is also a big city, so compared to those, Aalborg seemed pretty small. In the beginning I kept asking ‘Where is the centre of this city?’ she smiles.

“The Danish mentality was also something I had to get used to. For instance, we only trained once a day, and I remember once, when we were going for a training camp, but I was told that I did not need to bring my running shoes. When I asked why not, I was told. ‘It is really a team building course, but we just call it a training camp.’

Ibolya Mehlmann who came from Hungary and who also played for Aalborg in those days, was just as stunned as I was,” says Tanja Logvin who reached the quarter-final of the Champions League with Aalborg in her first season in the club – only to be sent out by no other team than Hypo Niederösterreich.

“I was very happy with the coach we had at that time – Christian Dalmose. He is a very charismatic coach, and he says things the way he sees and feels them. Some of the other players, mostly some of the Scandinavian players in the team, had their problems with that, but it was fine with me.”

After playing for Aalborg DH, Tanja Logving was a player, head coach and assistant coach in Vendsyssel Håndbold in the Danish 1. Division, the second best league in Denmark, before returning to Aalborg DH and a job as head coach.

This came to a sudden end, though, as the club closed down in the late summer of 2013.

“So you may say that I have also had sad experiences in Denmark, although far most of them have been positive. It was really sad that Aalborg went bankrupt. They had the most fantastic spectators I have ever experienced. I only hope that some day in future, some people not only with money, but also with a heart for handball, will bring women's handball in Aalborg back to the top.”

Teaching young handball players

These days Tatjana Logvin is working as a teacher at Nordjyllands Idrætsefterskole Stidsholt – a sports continuation school in Sæby north of Aalborg. Here she teaches young school students handball.

“The pupils, who come here, are obviously at very different levels, and as a teacher you have to be a bit pedagogical and not just tell them that it is not good enough what they do.

“We also have some real success stories, though. One of our boys, who comes from the Netherlands, has just been called up for the Dutch junior national team, and Flensburg have spotted two of our other boys and want them for a trial stay. Such successes make you really proud as a teacher.”

Right now she is on maternity leave, as she is due to give birth to her second child on the 10 April.

Her first-born, her daughter Kristina is 18 and already had her debut in the Austrian national team a while ago.

Being a back court player like her mother, Kristina is playing for the German Bundesliga club TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with whom she reached the quarter-final of the EHF Cup this season.

“I am glad she grew up in Denmark, though, as I think she has benefited from the Danish mentality. I also owe the Danish federation and Heine Eriksen (coach of Denmark's women's junior team) a lot of thanks for allowing her to take part in the Danish talent development programme, even though she has an Austrian passport,” Tatjana Logvin says.

FINAL4 – a great idea

The Women's EHF FINAL4, which is introduced this season, is an innovation she really welcomes.

“That is a great idea, I think, and it can bring some focus on women's handball. For the past two or three years, I think there has been too little focus on women's handball compared to men's handball, and I really believe that the FINAL4 can change this.

“Furthermore, it will be extremely developing for the players, and it is just great the event is going to take place in Budapest, where there will be a lot of spectators, and that will be extra motivating for the players,” concludes Logvin.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br