Every time a handball competition comes to an end, there is always that ackward moment when fans go crazy because they don’t know how to survive without their beloved sport.

That’s why All Star Games were invented!

A relaxed atmosphere with acrobatic handball, funny moments, laughs and unexpected shows…This the perfect way to recover energies* after an amazing France 2016 World Championship and to go back to the annual competitions routine.

*(yes, also handball tv-viewers need to recover energies after spending most of the previous nights watching replays of the matches!).

I won’t write too much because maybe there are people who will watch these event in the next days and I hate spoilers!

28-11-2016-ouverture-de-billetterie-hand-star-game-2017The first event I’d like to talk about is the Hand Star Game 2017, a match between a French selection of the best players of the Ligue National Handball and a team composed by the best foreign players who are playing in the French top league.

I watched a replay yesterday night and I have to admit that I really enjoyed a lot!

France has worked and is working really hard to bring handball over the top (the outstanding organization of the World Championship was another great signal) and they did a great job also in this case!
With the complicity of a “World Champions atmosphere”, the 5th edition of the Hand Star Games has been a proper showtime with no time for breathing and drink a glass of red Italian wine (the best wine in the world!).

The main match has been divided into 4 periods and the show was litterally incredible since the first second: if you have people like Mikkel Hansen, Valentin Porte, Nikola Karabatic, Jure Dolonec, Dani Sarmiento, Thierry Omeyer, Jerome Fernandez, Dominik Klein etc.  playing for fun on the same ground, then the only possible result is a never-ending series of “roucoulettes”, Kung-Fu’s (AKA kempa), fancy passes, unbelievable goals and… unexpected funny moments (mini spoil: Karabatic’s middle finger)!

The skills competitions during the intervals were not useful to relax because also in these case every single player was setting the crowd on fire with the most anti-physics moves.

Are you an “Old School Handball” fan? No problems, the organizers cares about you and they decided to arrange a mini match between old boys: Jackson Richardson, Gregory Anquetil (the Highlander of Handball), Guéric Kervadec, Dragan Mladenovic & Co. were able to show in less then 10 minutes, how handball is a good sport for all ages… and weights! 😀

Best moment of the night? The referees substitution!
An intense game like this could be stressful for an adult pair of refs, so it is important to have a B plan: give the whistles to kids!
I think this was one of the most clever decision ever. Behind the funny scene, there is a big truth that we have to consider: handball is not so popular like other sports and it is mainly based on the passion of players and teams. The best way to spread and improve this fantastic sport is to teach it to young people! They will be the future, they will be the next generations of our sports!

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Since I really hate refeering matches, I was trying to figure out how stressed I could have been if I had to control such great stars…

Well, the two little judges didn’t care about the big names at all and they didn’t hesitate to show a yellow card to the World Cup Final hero Vincent Gerard!

So, if you didn’t watch the game and you have two spare hours, then now you know what to do.
Well done France!

But now let’s move to another country: Germany

Yes mates, we are moving to the country where you can find “Die stärkste Liga der Welt”.

Before starting to talk about the event, I’d like to say that I am a great fan of the Handball Bundesliga (my biggest idol when I was a kid was Stefan Kretzschmar) and I like the German way of playing and living handball (so probably I will be a little bit biased 😛 ).

Germany has always represented a solid reality in the international panorama of our sport with its clubs and its national teams. Men and women clubs are always amongst the top clubs in the world and the german 1.Bundesliga is a dream for every single handball player in the World.

In this country, the All Star Game is now a well-established traditional appointment that is on since 2000. This year, the Arena Leipzig was a perfect meeting point for fans coming from all over the country and ready to support the “Bad Boys” of the national team (2016 European Champions and Bronze Medalist at Rio 2016) on one side and the best players of the DKB Bundesliga on the other!

If you want to compare this event with the French equivalent, then you have to stop immediately: this is a proper regular match between the two teams (DHB vs HBL selection) with no skills competitions.

Anyway, looking at the general organization we can see that there are some common aspectss between the French and the German version.

Also in this case social media and internet were a useful tool for the organizers and the best example is the amazing and cute trailer they used to advertise the event (YOU MUST WATCH IT… NOW!) 😀 :

They often used the word “Youngster” to talk about the actual DHB team and I  think that this term is a key word to describe the important planning work the German federation has carried out to face the huge generational change (around 2007).
As we said, the future of handball is already in the hands young generations! We have to transmit our love and passion to them.

But what about the match?

Also in this case there was a big amount of showtime (also from a tactical point of view I’d say – and this is the main difference with the Hand Star Game) with high level drills, kempas, lobs, etc.

Considering the two rosters it was quite easy to predict the super quality of this event (I think I should list some of them to compensate what I did for the French side 🙂 ): Andreas Wolff, Kai Häfner, Rune Dahmke, Alexander Petterson, Mattias Anderson, Thomas Mogensen… When this players are on the court, you know you will watch a real “handball opera”!

Hilarious moments are of course expected when you have Silvio Heinevetter in goal!

And don’t forget the Mascottes! The DKB mascottes are indeed the best handball mascottes in the world and the show they can bring on the court during half times and time outs (but also during the match within the supports) are incredible (I still remember the famous romantic dance with a lone Discokugel from Stuttgart to create the right atmosphere by spinning round!).

Sometimes my friends were saying that this event is quite boring and it’s not a real All Star Game (especially if comprared to the NBA, NHL…): I can understand their point of view, but it is just a different kind of exhibition match and since I followed many editions, I can probably appreciate it most because I already know what to expect.

I just realise that this post is extremely long, but when it comes to handball it’s really difficult for me to stop talking!

If you look at these matches and you want to share your opinions feel free to comment or to contact me!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

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