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25.08.2015, 17:28
The secret behind the French domination
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FEATURE: The French men have taken over handball on the international stage as the their school of handball seems to be the model to look up to
 

The secret behind the French domination

Being defending world champions at senior, world champions at U21, at U19 and European Youth Olympic Festival Champions is something which has never been managed before by one country within one year, but last week the French changed it all by winning the U19 world title and crowning a golden year for French handball.

All the way from the top with Nikola Karabatic and company right down to their youth categories French handball has never been so successful.  

A federation looking after its pupils

"There is more than just one reason why we are winning at the moment," says Joël Delplanque, head of the French federation.

"Clubs and the French federation are working very closely together. As soon as a player turns 15 they can make their way to a federation centre where they will go to school and play handball every day. As soon as you step foot in one of these structures you have the chance of becoming a world class handball player.

"We try to give every player the space they need to grow as a handball player," explains Delplanque.

"Being trained from 15 or 16 years old by top coaches gives you that huge advantage," continued Delplanque.

Philippe Bana, the national handball director, is often seen as ‘the one who puts oil in the machine’ by many in the French handball scene.

Figures like Daouda Karaboue, Didier Dinart or Eric Quintin were all world champions years ago and are now taking care of the U21 and U19 national teams.

"When someone likes Didier Dinart or Daouda Karaboue, who both have won so many titles, gives you some advice, you listen and you try to make the most of it," explains Eric Quintin, who is in charge of the U19 group and who was world champion himself in 1995.

"Having ex-players in the system draws a line between the past, the present and the future. The 1995 world champions are now teaching handball to the younger generations, who might teach it in twenty years to other youngsters."

Winning medals calls for winning medals

Watching the senior team winning medals over the past few years has forged an appetite for victory among the younger generations who desperately want to win their own titles.

"Of course it inspires us, and the fact that we get to train with some of them in our clubs only makes us want to achieve something for ourselves," says enthusiast Ludovic Fabregas.

And not only are the new players hungry for success, but the old ones are eager to give them something to build upon.

"It feels natural for us to want to transmit things we have learned; we know we're not going to be here forever, and the guys knocking on the door are very talented. It feels natural for us to help them," said Jerome Fernandez earlier in the year.

"This kind of set up is something you can see in other national teams, but it seems to be working better in ours," laughs Joël Delplanque, before concluding: "It takes a lot of effort and luck to get things right -– we are just trying to reduce relying on luck as much as possible."


TEXT: Kevin Domas / bc
 
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