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01.11.2013, 22:20
THW is an iconic myth and it is great to be part of it
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BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Next part of new ehfCL.com series about the decision-makers in the Champions League clubs presents the manager of THW Kiel
 

THW is an iconic myth and it is great to be part of it

“Behind-the-scenes” is a new series of the official VELUX EHF Champions League website ehfCL.com presenting the decision-makers in the back-courts and the offices of the Champions League clubs. What is their relationship to handball? How do they work? What are their daily jobs to make the handball world go around in those clubs?

The third part is about Klaus Elwardt  (58), who’s life always was connected with the club colours black and white though he is only one of two club managers since two years.   

From handball to carpentering back to handball

This is the short introduction of the life of Klaus Elwardt, who knows how to work with his hands. When he was six little Klaus started playing handball in Bordesholm, a small village close to Kiel.

When he was 17 he had the option to transfer to THW Kiel back in 1975 – a decision, which formed his later life. The tall right back played eleven years for THW and was a teammate of two persons, who then imprinted the club: Uwe Schwenker, who became the manager, and Noka Serdarusic, who was the coach for 15 years.

It took only three years before he was selected for the German B national team and even had one appearance in the A team under legendary coach Vlado Stenzel. But after this match against Iceland, Elwardt quit his international career, inviting his team mates for a box of beer to celebrate his first and last A match.

Because already at the age of 29, Klaus Elwardt had started his own business being a carpenter. “This was the reason why I quit playing for THW Kiel too,” he looks back. His biggest success in the black and white shirts of THW was reaching the German cup final after eliminating “unbeatable” VfL Gummersbach in the semi. But unfortunately for Elwardt he got injured one week before the final and missed this match.

Later he became coach in Bramstedt, but still he was closely connected to THW. “I did not miss a single home match and due to my friendship with Uwe Schwenker I was always very close to the team.”

Need for a well-known face

When Schwenker had to resign in 2009, the club changed the whole infrastructure, installed a board of directors and increased the numbers of associates. And Elwardt was asked to be part of the board of directors, responsible for sports. Uli Derad became the new manager of the German record champions – but only for two years, then he had to leave due to health problems.

When searching a successor, they came to Klaus Elwardt. “They said to me that they need a well-known face on this position. And I agreed as I was just passing over my carpenter business to my son. So a new part of my life could start.”

The THW statutes request a “four-eye-principle” for the managing directors, one is responsible for sports, the second for finances. Until some weeks ago Stefan Adam was the responsible for the budget, since his dismissal THW are looking for Elwardt’s counterpart.

Part of the THW puzzle

In his position Elwardt is cooperating highly closely with THW coach Alfred Gislason. “For example we discuss any transfer – and finally we take a common decision. It is brilliant to be part of this huge THW puzzle, to be a gear wheel in this complex structure. It is a responsible function, but also it means great fun to be that highly successful.”

Since Elwardt became manager in 2011, THW won five of six possible titles including the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2012 and reaching the VELUX EHF FINAL4 again in 2013.

“It is simply incredible, what we have managed in this time including the best ever season in the club history by winning the triple of German championship – winner of all 34 matches -, German Cup and Champions League. But the team on the court and the team in the back-court must fit otherwise you cannot be that successful.”

Despite the professionalisation of the club and having a budget close to 10 million Euros per season, Elwardt is proud that THW, their partners and fans are still a big handball family: “THW is an iconic myth and it is great to be part of it. When you see that every week 10,000 fans come to our home matches you feel that it is all a matter of the heart, so it is our main task to preserve this myth.”


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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