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14.02.2014, 12:24
Two coaching brothers paved Frey's way to handball
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FEATURE: Austria's 20-year-old Sonja Frey features in Part 2 of the EHF's 'rising stars' series
 

A pair of coaching brothers paved Frey's way to handball

Sonja Frey's career had started in Vienna, but it eventually enjoyed its decisive push in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on 14 August 2011.

It was a historic day for Austrian handball, as the under-19 women’s team took the bronze medal at the Women's 19 EHF EURO with a 34:28 win against Serbia, celebrating the first silverware for Austria in a younger ager category event.

Ten goals in this remarkable match were scored by Sonja Frey, who became the second best scorer overall and was furthermore nominated to the All-star Team.

However, the medal was the most important impetus for the left wing: "When I had this medal around my neck, I knew that I would dare to become a professional handball player," Frey, now 20 years old, tells ehf-euro.com.

Already at the age of 16 the Vienna-born Austrian international was part of the senior squad that participated at the World Championship 2009 in China.

"I was there to learn, to see how it works. To be in China was another integral part of my personal development," Frey describes her first major tournament, which just had followed her first match in the senior squad against Czech Republic some weeks before.

Moving away from home

At this time she played for MGA Fivers in Vienna – and dreamt about playing abroad some day.

And this 'some day' came earlier than expected, and was closely related to her two coaching brothers who had imprinted and still imprint her career: Herbert and Helfried Müller.

Helfried was Frey’s coach in the Austrian younger age category teams, Herbert is her coach in the Austrian women’s national team and since 2012 also her coach on club level at German side Thüringer HC.

"Helfried formed a great team and gave us the skills we needed to be successful, all success in those younger age teams is closely connected to him," says Frey.

And because of the Müller brothers (Helfried is the assistant coach of Herbert) she transferred to THC.

"You have completely different opportunities to develop there, also as we play in the EHF Champions League.

"And in Germany, especially at Thüringer HC, the public interest in women’s handball is much higher than in Austria. When we face HC Leipzig, more than 2,000 spectators are in the arena and create a splendid atmosphere."

Juggling two jobs at the same time

With the Austrian national team Frey is aiming to qualify for the next major tournament, the EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia.

"Except some old hands, who are still not older than 27 years, our team mainly consist of young players. So we lack experience and constancy. If we tap our full potential, we are really strong, but we need to become more stable to go all the way."

In the first two EHF EURO 2014 Qualification matches Frey and her teammates were defeated by Denmark but beat Ukraine clearly.

The next tasks at the end of March is a double header against Lithuania. "We must win both games to remain on the way to Hungary and Croatia," Frey says.

She hopes for a better framework for Austrian female talents who are facing the decision to dedicate their lives for handball.

"When those talents finish school they need to decide, if they can burden both – job or studies and handball. Some really good players quit at this point, so I hope for more support in Austria."

To have a second pillar apart from her professional handball life, Sonja Frey had started an apprenticeship as a physiotherapist, which takes three years. "You need a job beside women’s handball," is her opinion.

Future thoughts

Her contract at Thüringer HC expires in 2015 – and then? "I'm very bad in planning my long-term future,” Frey says, but currently she feels well at the club and adds: "In handball, you never know what happens. Suddenly you are injured and out for month, so the only thing I wish for my future is, to stay healthy and without any major injuries."

By looking upon the next years, Frey, an expert for counter attacks and fast match play, is thinking about her coaches: "At the moment it is absolutely not boring, quite to the contrary even inspiring, to have the same coach in the club and the national team.

"But at some point the day will come, when Helfried and Herbert will not be my coaches anymore."


This is the second part of a new series powered by eurohandball.com and ehf-euro.com. In the weeks to come we will throw the spotlight on the many young female handball talents all around Europe that are likely to make an impact on the international stage in the months and years to come.

Part 1: Sweden's Maria Adler: "My time will come"


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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