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H4DC in practice: FENIX Toulouse Handball and IK Sävehof


H4DC in practice: FENIX Toulouse Handball and IK Sävehof 

French club FENIX Toulouse Handball and Sweden’s IK Sävehof are two of the three clubs, alongside BM. Granollers, participating in the Handball 4 Dual Careers project for the past 30 months. Both clubs have been successfully implementing the support service and with the project is in its final stage, they can already draw conclusions and reveal important findings. 

Fabien Roy from FENIX Toulouse Handball and Sävehof’s Stefan Albrechtson shared experiences from their clubs and explained what exactly they have been doing since the project’s launch in January 2017. 

FENIX Toulouse Handball 

Toulouse have been following the method proposed by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. They have divided players in three suggested groups - gold, silver and bronze. However, they quickly realised the focus should be on the silver and gold group. 

“For the silver group, we introduced a sports psychologist and a tutor to establish socio-professional monitoring. Moreover, we have also set up regular individual meetings to provide better support.  

“Workshops common to all groups have also been set up to allow exchanges with elite athletes in various sports and professional career paths. The young players of the silver group were able to benefit from the exchanges with the other clubs in the Study Learning Tours,” said Fabien Roy, project coordinator for the French club. 

Like BM. Granollers, FENIX Toulouse also use the club’s connections to provide players with internships or jobs: “Thanks to the club’s connections and partners, we have supported them in their search for an internship and their integration into the world of work.”

Roy stresses out that the gold group (professional players) is the one where they have put most things in place: “Through individual meetings and the career counsellor we were able to help the most determined and interested athletes by putting them in touch with our partners. 

“We also held awareness sessions with the participation of former athletes and employment office’s advisors specialised in career changes from sport.”

The club also organised ‘Business2Player’ meetings and workshops with various topics such as writing a CV, cover letter, networking and social media. 

Roy also underlined what Melanie Klemann from AUAS said that the player’s motivation is the key factor for the project to succeed.

“The athlete remains the first motor of his future. No matter what we implement, the athlete is in charge of his career change. They are interested in the subjects we are trying to implement, however, there is some reluctance because they are delicate subjects and some prefer not to think about it and focus on their playing career.”

In the end, Roy concluded Handball 4 Dual Careers project has a future in FENIX Toulouse: “The project made us realise that we have enormous potential and that we should value dual careers more.”

IK Sävehof

The Swedish club has been following the same path. With Stefan Albrechtson as the project coordinator, Sävehof set up comprehensive organisation model which includes a steering group, managers for the men and women, tutors, a career counsellor, partners and ambassadors. 

“I feel we have all the services we need. For a long time, we have cooperation with Partille Gymnasium for combining handball and school. The gymnasium offers resources and contacts they have at different universities,” explained Albrechtson who is also club president and Partille Cup senior advisor, the largest handball tournament in the world. 

When it comes to job opportunities for the players, Sävehof is also using the same resources as Granollers and FENIX Toulouse: “We use opportunities provided by our sponsor and partner network.”

Sävehof players have taken part in club exchange with Granollers and FENIX Toulouse. However, occasionally athletes also have a chance to talk to project ambassadors Jonas Larholm, Johan Jakobsson and Johanna Ahlm. All three ambassadors are experienced Swedish internationals who are currently playing for Sävehof.

After 30 months of utilising the project, one important finding came to light: “We realised that there is no point of starting at an early age. There is just not enough interest. It is better to start at the age of 17 or older,” concluded Albrechtson. 

Project ending in June

This Handball 4 Dual Careers project will end on 12 June with the dissemination of the results and conclusions at the closing conference in Granollers.

A transferability plan will be presented together with a recommendations guide for other handball clubs and European clubs in all sports.

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