The IHF has taken a break from not providing useful TV coverage of the forthcoming World Championships in the UK to announce the winners of the IHF World Player of the Year for both men and women.
In the men’s category Daniel Narcisse of THW Kiel and France won 25% of the vote. He finished ahead of Mikkel Hansen, the shaggy Dane who plays for PSG who Narcisse is tipped by people better informed than me to be joining at the end of the year(*). The award caps a ‘not bad’ year in which he won Olympic gold alongside Champions League and Bundesliga titles.
There was something of a first in the women’s award as it heads to Brazil for the first time. Alexandra do Nascimento plays for Hypo Niederösterreich who routinely win the league and cup double in Austria, and for the Brazilian national team who finished 6th in the 2012 Olympics. Winning 28% of the vote, do Nascimento finished ahead of Heidi Løke who won the award last year.
Narcisse will, of course, be strutting his stuff for France in the World Championships that start in three days time. First up for the man officially nicknamed by the IHF as ‘Air France’ will be Tunisia. I suspect he will get ample opportunity to show off why he won the award.
As an aside, should you have any pumping needs please consider Grundfos who sponsor these awards. They provide pumping solutions for any situation.
(* = Since writing this I have now seen a photo of Daniel Narcisse shaking hands in front of a giant PSG badge. I assume that’s positive for the Parisians.)
For the British handball fan with access to the internet, balance on your debit card and time to plan a city break a couple of major events have announced the opening of ticket sales.
First up is the Men’s World Championship which is taking place in Spain in January 2013. Preliminary group day tickets are now available with prices ranging from €10 to €35. So for roughly the price of a League 2 football match you could be sitting in a premium seat watching top level international handball. The plane to Madrid from London is probably cheaper than a train around England as well. Details here.
Then there is the Velux Final 4 which is the culmination of the EHF Champions League in June 2013 and held in Cologne. During the initial sales window 10,000 of the available 19,000 tickets were sold. There are now more available. Last year Final Countdown ‘rockers’ Europe provided the headline for the accompanying entertainment, no word yet on whether The Scorpions will provide the 2013 crowd pleasers. Prices range from €60 to €240 and there are details here.
Before both those tournaments there is the Women’s Euro 2012 taking place in Serbia. Watching 15 top nations battle it out for the right to finish second to Norway should make for pretty decent pre-Christmas entertainment and the men’s edition held earlier this year also in Serbia (the Netherlands withdrew from hosting the women’s event in mid 2012) was notable for the ferocity of the local support and general passion of the crowds. In a mostly good way. Tickets will be available from Monday 17 September with day tickets for the preliminary round starting at €6 which is the price of an average cup of coffee in London. Details here.
This now-annual gathering in Qatar is possibly one of the richest prizes in club handball but, like a lot of comparable ‘world club’ events in other sports, it has the feeling of not quite being a proper competition. THW Kiel won it in 2011 but did not include it when talking about their all-conquering 2011/12 trophy-laden season.
That said, for the clubs set to tilt at Kiel and Athletico Madrid there will be little room for such doubts. As we have seen on this site, Sydney University may be amateurs but they are taking it very seriously indeed. Not as seriously as Al-Sadd, one of the two Qatari teams playing in Doha this week, who have signed on loan eight players from Montpellier to see them through the tournament. That’s French champions Montpellier. You might have thought it would have been easier to invite the actual club over instead.
The other participants this year are Mudhar of Saudi Arabia, Brazil’s Sao Bernardo, Al-Zamalek of Egypt and Qatari wild-card Al-Jeish.
But, anyway, leaving aside any doubts about validity Handball Views will go with the flow and presume that the champions will come from Europe once more, as they have in each of the tournaments since the event became annual in 2010. We’ll be slightly adventurous in predicting glory for the Spanish rather than the German Zebras.
The tournament starts on 27 August with group matches (Sydney University playing Mudhar is up first) with the championship final on 1 September.
Still want to see some reasonably top-level handball in the narrow window between the end of the Olympics and the start of the club season? Well, cast your internet feed in the direction of Montenegro as the official site of the IHF Women’s Youth World Championship will be live-streaming the games from this year’s competition which starts today.
There have been three iterations of this tournament so far and, remarkably, the nine medals available in that time have been won by eight different countries with only Denmark (winners in 2006, bronze in 2008) claiming two. The current holders are Sweden whereas France have lost in the bronze medal match in every single edition of the tournament.
Twenty countries are competing this time around beginning with a round-robin of four groups of five with the top two in each progressing to the quarter finals. Day 1 sees eight matches, most of which are probably foregone conclusions (e.g. Netherlands are 1/5000 to beat Paraguay) but the match between Portugal and Angola (1500 BST) looks intriguing. As for who will win the tournament I’m going for the hosts who seem to have a slightly easier group than some other big-name countries and will then fly to the final inspired by the exploits of their senior counterparts in London.
And France will lose the bronze medal match as that’s the law in these championships.
The official page with link to live stream is here.
And the wiki page with the fixtures laid our nicely is here.