Individual honours not on Bölk's mind in ValenciaArticle
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INTERVIEW: Emily Bölk is the big star of the German team, which arrives as World Championship silver medallists at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO

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Individual honours not on Bölk's mind in Valencia

Various headlines have labelled her “the jewel”, “the biggest talent in years” and “the hope for the future of German women’s handball”. Emily Bölk has just celebrated her 17th birthday and again she will be the youngest player in the German squad en route to the Women’s U19 EHF EURO in Valencia.

One year ago, at the age of 16, Bölk was awarded Most Valuable Player of the Youth World Championship in FYR Macedonia, celebrating also the silver medal with her team and achieving a new underage championship record of 22 goals in the match against Portugal. Some weeks later the Buxtehude left back became the German Bundesliga’s youngest player, now she is bound to be the key in the German team again.

Handball is her veins: Emily’s mother Andrea was a world champion in 1993, her grandmother was a national team player of the former GDR and her father a Bundesliga player at Fredenbeck. At the age of 14, Emily Bölk left her family in Buxtehude to join the Viborg’s Handball Academy for one year – and after she returned home, she was better, stronger and skilled.

“She will be a candidate for the women’s national team and she is a key in our long-term development strategy,” says Maik Nowak, female youth coordinator at the German Handball Federation. He expects that the German team will again be able to fight for a medal in Valencia.

In this interview with, Emily Bölk talks about her expectations for the event (23 July to 2 August) and her general development and aspir. You and your team won the silver medal at the Youth World Championship in 2014. Does this result add any pressure to you and your teammates?

Emily Bölk: Personally, I do not feel this pressure, but in general, our expectations for the EHF EURO are quite high. We want to play a successful tournament and if we could manage to repeat a success like last year, it would simply be brilliant. But to fight for a medal again, we need to be at our highest level. Those who were part of our squad last year and the new ones are really looking forward to play. You were awarded Most Valuable Player in 2014 – is this another personal dream emulate this achievement?

Emily Bölk: This trophy is not on my list for Valencia. I do not think that this personal award is easy to manage again. And I do not put myself under a pressure. It’s all about the team. If we show great results then the MVP trophy would be the icing on the cake, but I do not aim for it. How about scoring 22 goals in a single match, like against Portugal in 2014?

Emily Bölk: I think this is even harder to repeat than becoming MVP. What will be your role in the German team?

Emily Bölk: To help and support the other players and to take some kind of leadership. My coaches and teammates put their trust on my shoulders and I believe that I can bring our team forward. What significance did playing in the Bundesliga at the age of 16 have for your development?

Emily Bölk: This season really was a push for me. It is such a big difference to play at that level compared to the junior team. So it was a highly important experience for me. These matches make a player tougher and as most of our team play first or second division now in Germany, this might be an advantage for us - mainly in the matches against physically strong opponents. How often had you been compared to your mother? Do these comparisons bother you?

Emily Bölk: No, I am not bothered, but it happens really quite often that I am compared with my mother and that I am asked if I will be as successful as she was.  Are dreaming of becoming world champion with Germany, maybe at home in 2017?

Emily Bölk: Thoughts about becoming world champion or playing for the women’s national team are not on my current list. We have an important EHF EURO event ahead, and that’s my only focus.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor