Elverum hope to be next Norwegian success story
After the huge success of the men’s national team, the champions of Norway are looking for an improvement in what will be their third consecutive participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League. It also provides yet another opportunity to promote their little town all over Europe.
Three questions before the new season:
Can Elverum advance beyond the group phase?
Last season, the Norwegian champions took three victories. Now they are aiming for more, but the question is how fast the newly-built team will develop? "We have a lot of new players, who are among the strongest talents in Norway. The question will be how fast they can adapt to this level," says manager Bjørnar Myhren. In Group C, Elverum will face teams vastly more experienced at international level than them, including Leon, Velenje or Schaffhausen, so mainly the question will be answered by their results in their away matches.
Can Elverum profit from the hype surrounding men's handball in Norway?
The Norway men's national side has made it among the elite, with their fourth-placed finish at the 2016 EHF EURO and their silver medal at the 2017 World Championship. Interest in the men's game has grown rapidly, whereas previously interest in the country had many fallen on the women's national team and the 2011 Women's Champions League champions Larvik. Elverum now know that if they can top the domestic competitions - as they are currently doing - then the chance to attract more sponsors, players and fans is huge.
Does this growing interest also include the danger of losing the top stars?
It has been obvious in previous decades that the best Norwegian talents left their country quite early, originally joining clubs in Denmark or Sweden but more recently making the journey further south to teams in Germany or France. So all Norwegian clubs are used to this migration, but with a stronger national league and more chances on the international stage, it now could be even easier to keep their homegrown talents.
Under spotlight: Kristian Hanisch
Among the new arrivals, Swedish centre back Richard Hanisch is the most experienced one. He had played for Kristianstad in the VELUX EHF Champions League in the last two seasons and had even had a short stay at former Champions League winners Hamburg. Hanisch has been bought to lead the young guns, mainly in attack.
It is Elverum’s objective to gain the biggest number of points a Norwegian team ever has won in the VELUX EHF Champions League. "We took eight points last season, so it is natural to wish for more than that this season," says team captain Morten Nergaard.
"We know we are a small club, but we have faith in our young team. We have shown in the previous season that although the odds were against us, we can surprise. We are looking forward to playing the away games in some great arenas across Europe. The Champions League gives our players an experience that the other teams in Norway don't have, and we want to develop the players so they can go to bigger clubs in the future," says manager Myhren.
Although the team is focused on performing on the pitch, they also see the value handball can bring to the entire town. "For the little town Elverum it is important that we are noticed outside Norway. It makes the people feel proud of being from this little town," adds Myhren.
Elverum had great success last season by colouring the Terningen Arena all in white. Now the club wants to continue creating a spectacle, including players and fans all dressed in white.
What the numbers say
There are 17 people per square kilometer living in the Elverum Commune North-East of Oslo. In comparison, in Paris this number is 21,067.
Elverum Handball (NOR)
Qualification for the 2017/18 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Norwegian champions
Newcomers: Richard Hanisch (Kristianstad), Kristian Krogh Ørstedt (Bjerringbro-Silkeborg), Kevin Gulliksenn (Bækkelaget), Magnus Fredriksen (Falk Horten), Tráinn Orri Jónsson (Grótta), Alexander Mitrovich (St Halvard) , Sander Wennberg Linderud, Sander Ree Lindstad, Audun Breen Rørhagen, Stiven Thorsteinsson (all from other Elverum teams)
Left the club: Kristian Bliznac (Rhein Neckar Löwen), Tamas Ivanscik, Josef Pujol (Gummersbach), Petter Øverby (KIF Kolding København)
Coach: Michael Apelgren (since 2014)
Team captain: Morten Nergaard
VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2017/18 season): 4
Group Phase (2): 2015/16, 2016/17
Qualification (1): 2013/14
Other EC records:
Cup Winners’ Cup:
Group Phase (2012/13)
4 titles (2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17)
One title (2009)