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18.11.2015, 13:50
Unity and solidarity with France on display
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FIRST-HAND INSIGHT: French ehfCL.com contributor Kevin Domas shares his feelings surrounding last week's attacks in Paris and the special moments that followed in the handball world

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's CL
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Unity and solidarity with France on display

The weekend kicked off the worst way possible. Blood, bombs, tears and ambulance sirens were all you could hear and see on Friday night in Paris. Under attack were places familiar to the vast majority of us: a stadium, a concert venue, bars and restaurants we could all have hung out in. Places where we could all have had fun in. Very quickly, as a precaution and as a tribute to the victims, most of the events, including handball games, were cancelled or postponed.

When you asked the H65 Höor girls, who played in Nantes in the EHF Cup on Saturday night, they wanted to be anywhere but on a handball court. Talks were held and decisions were made. Metz and Viborg played against each other, in an arena full and after a cheering minute as moving as it could be.

The main event, the VELUX EHF Champions League between Montpellier and German side Rhein-Neckar Löwen, took place as planned. The French club’s president Rémy Lévy had insisted for the game to be played, a sign that terror and fear would not win. The atmosphere was, of course, not for celebration, but not for mourning either. It was, to be honest, very special, yet very intense.

To see both teams, made of players from thirteen different countries, enter the court and form the blue-white-red flag was a magnificent sight to see, and during the following silent minute, you could have heard a pin drop.

Rémy Lévy took to the arena microphone, and spoke wise words: “Today isn’t about points or ranking, it’s all about paying tribute to the children who died on Friday.” It was not phoned-in, the man meant every word he said. “Instead of mourning on our own, we thought it would be better to gather and pay tribute to the victims all together.” The result did not really matter in the end, as confirmed many Montpellier players afterwards.

They said that it had been impossible to act as if nothing happened, but that the best way to answer the events was not to let fear win. And it felt like the appropriate decision.

The other big event for French handball, the opposition between Fleury Loiret HB and Thüringer HC has been rescheduled for 6 Januray. Trusting the Panthers and the German club, it will probably be another big demonstration of unity and respect for the innocents gone too soon.

Now is not the first time France will have to rise again after such atrocities. Remember January and yet some other tragic events. “Je suis Charlie” we all said, and at that time, handball was the least important thing on earth. But the national team insisted on playing the preparation games ahead of the World Championship.

The games turned into a display of national unity, with French flags and Marseillaise sung at full volume. And the team gained the world crown in Qatar, everybody insisting on how important the context had been.

The huge displays of solidarity throughout Europe really are something to build upon. Supportive signs and French flags were spotted in Germany, where Issy-Paris travelled to play against Buxtehüder SV this weekend. Journalists from alI around Europe sent me their condolences and thoughts, while on a bigger scale, NBA and NFL teams played France’s national anthem and extensively demonstrated their support.

This is how the handball world, and the sports world in general, must react. Be strong, be united and not allow anyone to spoil it. As hard as it can be, life must carry on and not let death take its toll. Ever.

Kevin Domas is a 29-year-old handball journalist who has been passionate about the sport from an early age. After playing and refereeing, he is now a journalist and media manager for the French handball website handnews.fr, among others.

Kevin has been a regular contributor to eurohandball.com for four years, a website that allows him to combine traditional journalism with a more modern approach using social networks and mobile journalism.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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