Marcin Lijewski: No better way on earth to promote handballArticle
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FEATURE: Now a TV broadcaster, Lijewski is full of praise for the organisation of the “beautiful” VELUX EHF FINAL4.

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Marcin Lijewski: No better way on earth to promote handball

The thirst for handball in Poland continues at a frenetic pace both on and off the court this weekend. Following the successful hosting of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 back in January, Poland will be treating its handball fans to not only a VELUX EHF FINAL4 finalist in KS Vive Tauron Kielce, but excellent TV programming live on the NC+ satellite broadcaster, part of the CANAL+ group.

Broadcasting live from the LANXESS arena in Cologne at the weekend from 14:15 (Polish time) until 20:00 on Saturday and 20:30 on Sunday, the NC+ broadcast team led by Sports Editor Piotr Karpiński, have been busy preparing all their materials for the week ahead - “not only for Kielce, but for all the other teams,” joked Karpiński.

Every day this week they have been broadcasting live in the lead up to the FINAL4 weekend in their news programming as well as making specialised content for their social media channels, of which you can be sure that the various EHF social media channels will share.

A large part of their coverage centres on Marcin Lijewski, the former HSV Hamburg player who appeared twice with the club at the FINAL4, in 2011 and again in 2013, when he won the tournament after a tight victory over FC Barcelona.

In his second year working for NC+ in Cologne, the former right-back tells about his role behind the camera and what his expectations are for the 2016 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Do you like the concept of the FINAL4, with the last four teams fighting for glory over a weekend?

Marcin Lijewski: On one hand, I don’t because the best team should be chosen on grounds of the whole season and sometimes teams play at a very high level during the year but at the end they have problems with injuries, so when the most important moment comes they may not manage the task.

On the other hand, there is no better way on earth to promote and develop the discipline than the FINAL4 tournament and the venue in Cologne is the bull’s eye of the unofficial capital of handball; Germany, but other countries like Poland are catching up, but still we need to work a bit to be able to organise such an event in our country. What are your expectations for the 2016 VELUX EHF FINAL4?

Marcin Lijewski: As always, I expect a great show and amazing atmosphere on court. The most important thing though is that we see four high-level matches and I hope that they result in a lucky ending for Kielce. Do you have a favourite team this year?

Marcin Lijewski: Only a total freak can say who will win (laughs), but I will stay diplomatic and say there are four teams and each of them has a 25% chance.

On paper we can point out better teams, but in my experience the best team doesn't always win so I will not dare to mark out anyone. These are the four best European teams, and I wish all the best to Kielce of course. What are the factors that Kielce need to fulfil in order to win the VELUX EHF FINAL4?

Marcin Lijewski: First of all, iron preparation; they need to be focused on their final goal and nothing can get in the way. Secondly, they need an iron defence with a strong goalkeeper in the back and third, and finally, they need consistent and continuous top-level play. Which players do you think we should look out for over the weekend?

Marcin Lijewski: Definitely Nikola Karabatić, who remains the best handball player in the world. Watching him in action simply impresses people - he can play two days in a row at his highest level without sitting on a bench and that’s incredible for me.

There’s also the top scorer in the competition so far, Mikkel Hansen, and if he sustains his shape he will be a very strong point for Paris Saint-Germain.

I would also like to point out the whole team of THW Kiel as they are experiencing a kind of renaissance right now. They started abysmally and had some personnel problems, but now, at the very end of the season, they are in amazing, glittering form from out of nowhere and eliminated the great FC Barcelona.

These three elements will definitely make that the tournament really nice. How do you like your job with NC+ television as their ‘handball expert’?

Marcin Lijewski: I don’t treat it as my job. I don’t know if I do it good or bad but I really enjoy it. I got into it after I became friendly with NC+ journalist Piotr Karpiński. He has got his own vision and he said that my presence in the studio and my professional advice would be attractive (laughs) to the viewers.

I tried out and to be honest it makes me happy – depending on his mood, sometimes Piotr will just call and say; “hey, Lijo, drop in on the studio at the weekend, please” and I work without any preparation.

He just asks if I have time, tells me that it’s a nice game ahead of us etc. and I go there totally spontaneously.

When the teams with my mates play then I can call them and ask for some titbits, their expectations and other news that can be useful, but I don’t prepare any journalistic tables, charts or graphs as I simply don’t even know how to do this (laughs). How do you cope with criticising your former teammates and friends on air?

Marcin Lijewski: I try not to criticise. I try to be objective without turning anyone off. I don’t want to make enemies while playing a great journalist (laughs). What have you learnt from your work on TV?

Marcin Lijewski: I was in Cologne twice as a player and from that perspective the tournament looked totally different compared to seeing it through the eyes of TV expert. I had an opportunity to see the whole weekend inside out.

I could observe how the city is prepared, how the hall functions, what a great atmosphere the fans create outside in the fan zones, how amazing it is to see the Kielce fans having fun with the Veszprem fans or the fans of Barcelona with Kiel’s like it was last year.

It’s something beautiful to have an opportunity to experience it.


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / amc