"When you have put so much into a club, you want to finish in style"
For Höör left back Cassandra Tollbring, winning the Women’s Challenge Cup would mean a lot this year as she will leave the club for Larvik at the end of the season.
Whilst many people will know her as the older sister of Swedish international Jerry Tollbring – the left wing who plays for back-to-back Swedish champions IFK Kristianstad and who will represent Rhein-Neckar Löwen next season - the 24-year-old Cassandra is determined to step out of her brother's shadow – and there will be no better way to do that than winning the Challenge Cup with her club, H 65 Höörs HK.
“I would not say that there is any kind of rivalry between us,” she said. “We actually support each other, but maybe I support him a bit more than the other way around. I hope he will win the Swedish championship with Kristianstad again and that he will be successful in the Bundesliga.
It is a busy time for Tollbring and her Höör teammates these days, apart from being engaged in a domestic semi-final series against Lugi in the Swedish play-offs, they are also preparing for the second leg of the Women's Challenge Cup Final against HC Lokomotiva Zagreb this Saturday (13 May).
“We were not able to control the first match the way we wanted to,” said Tollbring after her Höör side lost the first match in Croatia 23:19 on Sunday (7 May), despite leading 11:10 at half-time.
“We left the initiative with them and had particular problems with their aggressive defence and were not sufficiently prepared for their goalkeeper either.
“We did lead in the middle of the match, but we lost the initiative again and let them into the game,” continued Tollbring, who was not in the team when Höör won the Challenge Cup for the first time in 2014.
“However, I think we can take a lot with us from that match, and I am sure we can improve in several areas for the home game; I see a really good chance for us in Sporthallen on Saturday evening.”
To make it two Challenge Cup titles in just four seasons would be impressive for the side from Sweden and Tollbring hopes they can overcome that four-goal deficit to end the season, and her career, for the side on a high.
“Some of the players from that team are still with us,” she said. “To all of us it would mean a lot to win the Challenge Cup again.
“It has been a good season for us so far - when you have put such a great part of your career into one club, as I have in Höör, you obviously want to finish in style, and that is what I want too.
“Winning the Challenge Cup – and hopefully some more success in the Swedish championship – would just be the perfect way to say goodbye.”
Hoping for silverware, then the Women’s EHF Champions League
Whatever happens in Sweden on Saturday night, the Stockholm-born 24-year-old will make the 500km or so journey north of Höör, to Larvik at the end of the season where she will join a team rich with handball history and tradition.
“I have chosen to join Larvik because I have always like the Norwegian way of playing handball, and I would like to be part of that,” she said. “I realise that I will be joining a Larvik team which will be very different from the team we know, but I am sure that the special winning culture, which has always characterised the club will still be there.
“I really hope they will win the gold medal in Norway again this season, so that I get the chance to play the Champions League with them next season. Playing the Champions League like my brother is one of my really big dreams.
“But for now, it is all about winning the Challenge Cup,” said Tollbring, who has scored 45 goals this season in the competition. “If we get the right support from our spectators I am sure we can make it.”
TEXT: Peter Bruun/amc