“Green heart” – about colour of club, logo and … quality
Denmark’s second largest team sport – handball – is in a transition phase, where clubs with core values such as voluntariness, inclusion, diversity and social community are under strong commercial pressure. Among Denmark’s absolutely strongest handball clubs with these core values is Skanderborg Handball, which is now changing both club color and logo. The reason is an “equal merger” with Aarhus Handball, which a few days ago was declared bankrupt. Formally, it is (perhaps) a merger and an equal collaboration, but in reality a superstructure is created for Skanderborg Handball’s league team for men. All players, coaches and administrative staff at Aarhus Handball have been released at a time when all other clubs at the same level have already entered into contracts with players and coaches for next season. How many of Aarhus Handball’s players, who are offered a contract with the new superstructure of Skanderborg Handball, will show in the coming weeks.
No one can live (alone) on the memories of the past
In recent days, Aarhus Handball has openly acknowledged that there were simply no more or other opportunities to run the club – or rather the “project” – further. The money box was empty and thus the country’s second largest city – Aarhus – is for the first time since the first national league in men’s handball was held in 1946-1947, not represented by a club. Previously, no less than 7 Aarhus clubs – AGF, Aarhus KFUM, Skovbakken, Viby IF, VRI, Aarhus Fremad and AIA – have played in the national league and no less than 11 times an club from Aarhus has won the national championship. However, the latest national championship is no less than 38 years ago. And no one can live (alone) on the memories of the past.
Three strong talent development environments – GOG, Mors-Thy and Skanderborg
Like Aarhus, big cities such as Copenhagen and Odense have also had immense difficulty in maintaining and not least further developing clubs within top handball for men. For the past 3 decades, league handball for men – in addition to Aalborg – has been dominated by smaller provincial towns such as Kolding, Skjern, Gudme-Oure-Gudbjerg, Silkeborg, Holstebro, Nykøbing Mors and Skanderborg. There are many reasons for this development, but a significant explanation for the success of several of these clubs has been the establishment and development of “handball academies”. The three talent environments that have developed the vast majority and by far the best league and national team players in handball are found in GOG and the Schools in Oure, Mors-Thy Handball and Sports College Mors as well as in Skanderborg Handball and Skanderborg Handball Elite Academy (SHEA). All three environments are characterized by a close and binding collaboration between club and academy, i.a. by common coaches, teachers and professional experts. In my opinion, it can be difficult to immediately see Skanderborg Handball’s benefits and gains from an “equal merger” with Aarhus Handball. In the short term – and perhaps also in the longer term – hopefully greater financial support can be obtained from more sponsors in East Jutland, but there are also risks associated with training and playing matches at two different addresses. Let me just mention KIF Kolding Copenhagen as a scary example.
SHEA is a “golden egg” for Skanderborg Handball … and Danish handball
I hope that Skanderborg Handball in the coming years will maintain the core values and continue to work purposefully to maintain a league team for women and further develop SHEA. At SHEA, young talents aged 15-19 from all over the country have the opportunity to combine high-level handball with a youth education and here the talents meet in everyday life very competent coaches and professional experts – physiotherapists, dieticians and sports psychologists – who can advise and guide them, both on and off the handball field. Current national team players such as Kristina Jørgensen (Viborg HK) and Johan Hansen (TSV Hannover Burgdorf) are good examples of talents who have gained a significant part of their development as players and human beings at SHEA.
Club color and logo are also strong identities
For some people, form is more important than content – for others it is the other way around. And then there are fortunately also some who value both content and form. Many will probably claim that a club color and a logo “only” is form and not content. I think club color and logo are far more than form, namely a strong identity. For that reason, I also hope that Skanderborg Handball will also replace the club case “Green heart” when the new “equal merger” is to be realized. A “new” club color and a “designer logo” is no guarantee of (continued) high quality – not even in Skanderborg Aarhus Handball.