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03.10.2013, 16:00
Denmark welcomes handball fans with a smile
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INTERVIEW: Visitors can gear up for a fantastic EHF EURO EURO 2014 in Denmark in January. The man who says that is no one less than Per Bertelsen, President of the Danish Handball Federation.
 

Denmark welcomes handball fans with a smile

With 100 days to go until the start of the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, the event's organising committee at the Danish Handball Federation has the preparations well in hand.

Although it is the first time in 36 years that Denmark hosts a major final tournament in men's handball, the Danes absolutely do not lack experience - and that is with good reason.

In 2010 they hosted the Women's EHF EURO together with Norway, and this summer the European Beach Handball Championship as well as the Women's 19 EHF EURO.

Maybe that was the reason why it was a rather relaxed and confident DHF chairman Per Bertelsen (pictured), eurohandball.com correspondent Peter Bruun met for a talk about the preparation and what fans may expect from the event.

eurohandball.com: This will be the first time since the World Championship in 1978 that Denmark hosts a final tournament in men's handball. What does it mean to the Danish federation to host the EHF EURO 2014?
Per Bertelsen: First of all we see it a great present to Denmark and Danish handball. We are happy to have been given the trust with this event, and we also see it as a chance to promote the sport of handball and to make even more people - and young people in particular - play handball.

eurohandball.com: Back in 1978, there was a fantastic atmosphere and enthusiasm, not only at Denmark's matches, but at all games. May we expect the same excitement again?
Per Bertelsen: I am in no doubt that we will, and that it will be even greater this time. In Herning, where Denmark are going to play all their matches, I am sure we will get every square centimetre of the tribunes sold.

We are already well on our way to having a full house there, and the same goes for the venues in Aalborg (Group B with Spain, Iceland, Hungary and Norway) as well as Copenhagen (Group D with Croatia, Sweden, Belarus and Montenegro) while we are facing a slightly larger challenge in Aarhus (Group C with Serbia, France, Poland and Russia)  but I am pretty sure that we will fill the hall there, too.

eurohandball.com:The Danish federation has launched several activities in the participating countries in order to get fans from those countries to come to the championship. How successful have those efforts been so far?
Per Bertelsen: It is a bit early to say yet, but we will intensify those efforts in the near future, and so will the participating federations, in website etc. However, I have the feeling that, for example, many French fans are waiting to come until the main or the final round – so we just have to hope that their team qualifies.

eurohandball.com: How far are you into the preparations?
Per Bertelsen: We are where we should be according to our manual. We have the advantage of having organised several championships in the past, and that means that we don't have to start from scratch when organising such an event.

We can build on the experience from the previous events, and we have a full and ready manual for the event from the start. Furthermore, we are prepared for the challenges which will inevitably turn up in the last moment, and a lot of our 1,100 to 1,200 volunteers have also been part of previous championships and know what to expect, and what is expected from them.

eurohandball.com: What more needs to be done in the remaining 100 days before the first matches throw off?
Per Bertelsen: We are going to tie all the things together which the various work groups have been working with, planning will get more detailed, and we will make sure to be prepared, as I mentioned, for the those more or less unexpected issues which always pop up in the last moment, as I mentioned.

eurohandball.com: 1,100 to 1,200 volunteers sound like an impressive number. Is it an easy task to recruit volunteers for such an event?
Per Bertelsen: With the risk of sounding arrogant, I have to say that our biggest problem in that respect is to have to say 'no' to many people who want to be volunteers. I think the secret is that we are good at informing people in advance, exactly what their job will be and how much time they will have to spend on it.

Once people know how much time and work they are expected to invest, my experience is that it is pretty easy to make them do a piece of volunteer work.

eurohandball.com: What may all the people who come to the EHF EURO 2014 expect?

Per Bertelsen: First of all I am sure they are going to see a lot of fine handball. Furthermore, they will meet the Danish mentality and a lot of people who will meet them with a smile.

We are very inspired by the London Olympics last year where many volunteers were working long hours every day  but they always smiled and were always helpful. In Denmark, people will meet the Danish mentality from its most positive side, and, as I said, there will be lots of great handball.

eurohandball.com: Are you planning any particular activities around the matches, in particular for the fans?
Per Bertelsen. We will be setting up a large fan zone in one of the halls  in Herning. We are sending out invitations to sports schools and colleges in the area, so we expect 4,000 to 5,000 fans in that fanzone on match days, and apart from that we will have around 2,000 people dining ahead of every match there. We are planning similar fan zones at the other venues.

eurohandball.com: What activities are going to take place in those fan zones?
Per Bertelsen: That is one of the things we are going to spend the last 100 days planning. It depends a little on who and how many fans will come at the respective venues, but I can promise a lot of great experiences and a fantastic event in Denmark in January.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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