20200812 Borussia Dortmund Kelly Dulfer Photo Wolfgang Stummbillig
EHF Champions League

Dortmund’s debut led by Dutch octet

EHF / Björn Pazen

Sport fans all over the globe know Borussia Dortmund from their famous men’s football team that won the UEFA Champions League in 1997.

But now their women’s handball team is ready for their first season on the sport’s biggest stage, the DELO EHF Champions League.

Main facts bullet points:

  • for first time in Borussia’s history, the club’s women’s handball team has qualified for the CL
  • in the past Dortmund won the Challenge Cup (2003) and reached the final of the EHF Cup (1997)
  • in their first season under head coach Andre Fuhr, Dortmund led the domestic league when play was stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March
  • however, Dortmund were not awarded the Bundesliga 2019/20 title - contrary to THW Kiel on the men’s side
  • back-court player Kelly Dulfer, who won the world title with Netherlands in December 2019, was awarded MVP of the Bundesliga season
  • Dulfer is one of eight Dutch players in the squad, which welcomed seven new arrivals from five different countries: Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Spain

Most important question: Are Dortmund strong enough to keep up with top sides like Györ, Buducnost or CSKA?

“We are not without a chance against most of the teams, maybe except for Györ,” says BVB coach Andre Fuhr. “But we are entering new territories, which will be a great experience for most of my players.”

BVB are longing for their debut in the DELO EHF Champions League, but the team will have to cope with a transition, with six new arrivals and seven players who left.

“Our main problem can be the small squad with only 13 court players, but we will try to rotate as much as we can,” says Fuhr, who had steered Blomberg and Metzingen into other EHF club competitions before.

Only Kelly Dulfer has played in the EHF Champions League before, and most of the players have not been part of any international club competition so far.

“We lack experience, but we want to compensate this by quality and ambition,” says Fuhr, who is still disappointed that his team did not receive a trophy when the domestic season was cancelled, while Kiel were awarded the Bundesliga title on the men’s side.

Under the spotlight: Kelly Dulfer

At the age of 26, tall defence specialist Dulfer has been part of all major successes of the Dutch national team: World Championship gold in 2019, silver in 2015 and bronze in 2017; EHF EURO silver in 2016 and bronze in 2018; Olympic Games semi-finalists in 2016.

Until joining Dortmund in 2019, she mostly played in defence - and was awarded best defender at the EHF EURO 2018.

However, since a year she has become the star in Dortmund’s attack, too, and was deservedly rewarded with the best Bundesliga player award.

How they rate themselves

Despite facing the likes of Györ, Brest, Buducnost, Valcea and Brest in their debut season, Dortmund aim for a position between 3 and 6 in group B in order to become part of the play-offs.

“Participation in the EHF Champions League is of elementary importance for the development of Borussia Dortmund. Furthermore, it is our goal to represent German women’s handball internationally at the highest level,” says club manager Andreas Bartels. 

Team captain Alina Grijseels has a very special approach.

“I am looking forward very much to two group matches: at Odense, because it will be the first Champions League match in my career; and against Györ, who I think have been the best team in the world in previous years. It will be a special moment to have the chance to play against this team.”

Did you know?

Dortmund’s best-known name is not on the court: goalkeeper Clara Woltering. The former German international ended her career at BVB in 2019 after four seasons with the club.

Earlier she won the EHF Champions League twice with Buducnost (2012 and 2015) and was awarded MVP of the EHF FINAL4 2015 at Budapest.

Now Woltering is taking care of the development of the Dutch and German national team goalkeepers Rinka Duijndam and Isabell Roch.

In round 5 of group B, Woltering and Dortmund will face her former club Buducnost.

What the numbers say

No club in the DELO EHF Champions League has more players from the country of the current world champions: Dortmund boast eight Dutch players, including four who were part of the team that won gold in Japan: Kelly Dulfer, Merel Freriks, Delaila Amega and Rinka Duijndam.

Newcomers and left the club

Newcomers: Tina Abdulla (Tertnes Bergen/NOR), Delaila Amega (TuS Metzingen), Jennifer Gutierrez Bermejo (CBM Elche/ESP), Clara Monti Danielsson (Team Esbjerg/DEN), Jennifer Rode (Bayer Leverkusen), Tessa van Zijl (HSG Blomberg-Lippe)

Left the club: Asuka Fujita (CS Minaur Baia Mare/ROU), Leonie Kockel (HSG Bensheim/Auerbach), Malina Marie Michalczik (HSG Blomberg-Lippe), Carolin Müller-Korn (Buxtehuder SV), Bogna Sobiech (unknown/TUR), Saskia Weisheitel (JDA Dijon/FRA), Aleksandra Zych (CS Magura Cisnadie/ROU)

Past achievements:

- EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 1

- Other:
EHF Cup: Runners-up: 1996/97
Challenge Cup: Winners: 2002/03

German league: - (but leaders when 2019/20 season was cancelled in March)
German cup: 1 title (1997)

Main picture Kelly Dulfer: BV Borussia 09 Dortmund / Wolfgang Stummbillig

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