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06.01.2016, 21:20
The Danish coaches and their foreign success
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FIRST-HAND INSIGHT: Danish coaches have had remarkable success abroad in recent years. We look at the reasons for this.

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Women's CL
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The Danish coaches and their foreign success

In the last part of the 19th century, the Danish king Christian IX was called ‘Europe’s father in law’ due to the fact that all his sons and daughters were married to kings and queens or princes and princesses of numerous other European countries.

These days, it is not Danish royalty but Danish handball coaches who make their mark all over Europe and beyond, for that matter.

At the recent Women’s IHF World Championship 2015, four of the 24 teams were coached by Danes.

Apart from the Danish hosts, with Klavs Bruun Jørgensen in charge, Poland with Kim Rasmussen, Germany with Jakob Vestergaard and Brazil with Morten Soubak, all had a Dane in the hot seat.

They all reached the Last 16 and Kim Rasmussen’s Poland even made it to the semi-finals.

When we look at the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League, the Danish dominance on the coaching benches becomes even more outspoken.

While it is no big surprise to see a Dane, Helle Thomsen, in charge of Danish champions FC Midtjylland, two other teams in Group 2 also have Danes on the bench.

 

 

Besides being the national coach in Poland, Kim Rasmussen also finds the time to coach Romanian Women's EHF Champions League debutants CSM Bucuresti.

By Macedonian champions HC Vardar, Jan Pytlick’s function officially is consultant but in reality, the former Danish national coach is in charge of the team, together with former top player Indira Kastratovic.

In Group 1, Jan Leslie is coaching the most successful team in the Women’s EHF Champions League so far this season.

Debutants Rostov-Don are the only team who did not lose a single point in the group phase.

Danes replacing Danes

Realistically, we have to admit that not all Danish coaches have been successful in foreign clubs, though.

However, not even this fact has deterred the same clubs from trying their luck with another Dane.

In CSM, Mette Klit had to leave the job early this season but she was replaced at once by countryman Kim Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, on the other hand, had no success in Vardar last season but still Jan Pytlick was hired shortly after Rasmussen’s departure.

 

 

What is the reason why Danish handball coaches have become so sought-after in Europe and in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular?

Running the risk of generalising, we can point out several probable reasons.

Apart from the simple fact that Danish coaches have a reputation for the being well educated.

Another reason is probably to be found in an answer the former Spanish handball star, Mateo Garralda, gave in an interview while playing in KIF Kolding.

When he was asked why he moved to Denmark to continue his career in 2008, he answered that it was in order to learn the Nordic handball culture which he found to be more collective and team oriented than for instance the South European style.

“If you could combine those two handball philosophies, you could make a really great team,” Garralda said at the time.

It seems that club directors in large parts of Europe have realised that he was right.

A further possible explanation was indicated by Jan Leslie shortly after he joined Rostov-Don last year.

He explained how reluctant the players were to speak their own mind when he asked for their opinion on things.

They were simply not used to being asked what they thought.

Danish coaches are generally known to involve their players more in the decisions than coaches from other handball cultures may tend to do.

This way, they increase the feeling of responsibility among the players and thereby also their motivation.

No one would probably claim that a coach from other parts of the world could not have the same qualities but in general, Danish coaches are known for their democratic approach, which is likely to create solidarity among the players and cohesiveness in the team.

 

 

Why now?

However, the demand for Danish coaches outside their own country is relatively new.

Their qualities have been known for a long time, so why now?

The explanation is probably the same as the explanation why the best players in women’s handball no longer play in Denmark.

The cash flow has turned.

In the first decade of this millennium, Danish clubs could afford to sign the best players and the best coaches with the result that Danish teams (Viborg HK and Slagelse DT) won the Women’s EHF Champions League six times out of seven from 2004 to 2010.

These years, and again with the risk of generalizing, it is the clubs in parts of Eastern and Central Europe who can afford the best players and the best coaches, while Danish clubs no longer have the financial muscles they once had.

Now, clubs in this part of Europe can afford to sign Danish coaches who, on their side, find a foreign adventure attractive, financially and otherwise.

Therefore, we may see even more Danish coaches taking over teams outside the Danish borders in future.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ec
 
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