Happy amateur with the dangerous right armArticle
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INTERVIEW: After two cruciate ligament injuries, Tine Stange is playing as an amateur for Larvik, but this has not stopped the 29-year-old left back from scoring 17 goals in her last two EHF Champions League matches.

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Happy amateur with the dangerous right arm

In Larvik's two last main round matches in the Women's EHF Champions League, Tine Stange really proved that she is back at full fitness after two cruciate ligament injuries.

As Larvik won 37:31 at home against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, the 29-year-old left back scored nine goals, and as the Norwegian record champions defeated Fleury Loiret Handball 31:28 away one week later, she hit the back of the net eight times.

This way, she has played a great part in Larvik's fine finish to the group phase, which secured them the second place in in Group 1.

“Those two performances were just the culmination to a period of progress in my way back to full fitness after my second injury.

“I have been training very well, also physically lately, and of course, it is really nice when you feel the result in the matches.

“I feel I am finally back a full fitness and full strength now.

“It has taken a bit longer after my second injury than after the first one, mainly because of the mental aspect, as I had to feel that I could rely completely on the knee,” she explains.

“It has been really great to be back, and the confidence I get from the coach has meant a lot to me and is also a big part of the explanation to my recent success.

“Furthermore, it is very reassuring to play in a club, where you know everyone – the head coach, the physical coach, the health staff, everyone,” adds Tine Stange who has played in Larvik through her entire senior career.

Playing for free

Unlike her teammates, she is actually playing for free for Larvik this season.

Due to previous financial problems, Larvik have not been allowed to have more than 16 players on contract this season due to regulations by the Norwegian Handball Federation, and as Tine Stange returned from injury in the autumn, this maximum number had already been reached

Therefore, it was not possible to offer her a contract, so she is actually playing as an amateur.

This does not seem to bother her a lot, though.

“To me, it is a question of proving that I am back. I am far from being finished with handball, and even though I play as an amateur, I have been able to train just as much as my teammates.

“This has been made possible by a flexible employer who accepts that I work when I can, as well as by some personal sponsors and an understanding and helpful family,” explains Tine Stange who has a 2-year-old son to take care of beside her job and her handball career.

Dreaming of the Olympics and FINAL4

She also has a brilliant career in the Norwegian national team behind her, her largest triumph with the national team being the gold at the EHF EURO 2010 in Denmark and Norway.

“I am still dreaming of a comeback to the national team, and I dream of playing at the Olympics in particular.

“However, it is like getting through the eye of a needle to get into the national team, as there are so many great players who compete for a nomination.

“All I can do is focus on my own game and work as hard as I can, and then we will have to see what happens,” she says with one of those smiles that are so characteristic for her.

With Larvik, her greatest achievement had been winning the Women's EHF Champions League in the 2010/11 season.

However, that was before the Women's EHF FINAL4 was introduced, and quite naturally, she is also dreaming of experiencing that.

“Of course, I dream of the FINAL4, especially after I missed last year due to my injury.

“However, first we need to get past Vardar in the quarter-final, and that will be difficult enough, as they have a very strong team, so there is no doubt that we are in for two tough matches at the beginning of April.

“However, I do believe in our chances against Vardar, and as I said, experiencing the tournament in Budapest would just be great,” says Tine Stange.

New batch of tickets released for Budapest

Tickets for the 2016 Women's EHF FINAL4 are still up for grabs, and with the demand increasing following the confirmation of the quarter-final pairings, organisers have made new sectors available in the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna.

After the conclusion of the main round, interest for the showpiece event of European women's handball is expected to grow rapidly, so don't miss it and buy your ticket now!

The 2016 Women's EHF FINAL4 takes place on 7/8 May in Budapest and all tickets are valid for both playing days.

Find more information on www.ehfFINAL4.com

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br