Charlotte Bonaventura: ‘We feel like we’re any other referee’Article
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INTERVIEW: Meet Charlotte and Julie Bonaventura, who will referee the first AKQUINET EHF Cup semi-final match betweeen THW Kiel and TTH Holstebro
»2018-19 Men's News
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Charlotte Bonaventura: ‘We feel like we’re any other referee’

After the 2017 World Championship, the 2018 EHF EURO, the 2012 Olympics and two Women’s EHF Champions League finals, the Bonaventura sisters will have another line to add to their refereeing record this weekend: an EHF Cup semi-final.

The twins, Charlotte and Julie, will be at the wheel of the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals game between THW Kiel and TTH Holstebro this Friday.

If, to the outside world, having a pair of female referees for a men’s match feels like an event, from the inside it feels slightly different.

“It’s nice when your abilities are taken into consideration, we feel like it’s a reward. We don’t consider ourselves as women, more like any other referees. But I have to admit that we received a lot of messages saying how much of an event it is,” says Charlotte Bonaventura.

For the twins to referee a men’s game is nothing new, as they did so for the first time 12 years ago and have whistled in four EHF Cup games already in their career. But to have women refereeing at a men’s club tournament of this size is a first.

“We don’t prepare any differently whether we’re directing men or women. For sure, being here at the Finals is different, because we know there will be much more tension on the court and that we won’t have any room for error,” says Julie.

So, does it mean that there will be pressure on their shoulders when they enter the court at the Sparkassen-Arena?

“We’re just like the players, we want to give our best performance every time. The less anyone talks about us after the game, the better we will have been,” they smile.

Their presence was made possible by the absence of any French team from the event, something that had not happened in the last two seasons.

“That’s sad, but if it means that we can be part of such an event for the first time, we can’t say no to it,” adds Charlotte.

Despite having whistled across most of Europe already, including in some of the most iconic arenas on the continent, the sisters have never been to Kiel before this weekend.

“This is part of the history of handball, some would even say this is a temple, I’m really looking forward to discovering the arena,” says Julie Bonaventura.

In front of 10,250 fans, the pressure will be on to make the right calls at the right time. Do the Bonaventuras feel like they are being watched more because they are female?

“Yes, of course. But we hope that things will change soon. It’s still unusual for women to referee men's games, but it’s becoming more frequent. And the more the fans see it, the less it will feel like an oddity,” concludes Charlotte.

TEXT: Kevin Domas/jh