|25.01.2017, 11:40||◄ last page|
AROUND THE WORLD: Rut Jónsdóttir from FC Midtjylland is the only Icelandic player in the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League, and while she desires more personal success, she is hoping for better days for women’s handball in Iceland
Only Icelander left in Women’s EHF Champions League wants more
Rut Jónsdóttir is the only Icelandic player left in the Women’s EHF Champions League. Line player Hildigundur Einarsdottier from HC Leipzig and right back Birna Berg Haraldsdottir from Glassverket both had to leave the tournament, as their clubs were sent out after the group matches.
Both are continuing their European campaign in the Women’s EHF Cup, while 26-year-old Jónsdóttir and her teammates at FC Midtjylland continue in the main round of Europe’s elite club competition.
“It is really cool to have had so much success in my first season in Midtjylland.
“When we first saw our group and saw that we were going to play Györ, Rostov-Don and CSM Bucuresti, we were all a bit annoyed, as we found it to be such a hard group.
“It was, but we have done really well, and winning all our home games has been so fantastic and something I was not expecting at all.
“It has been really great to be part of this success and to be able to contribute to it,” says Jónsdóttir, who joined Midtjylland this summer from Danish league rivals Randers HK.
Thrown in the lion’s den
An injury to Danish international Louise Burgaard at right back meant more court time from the start than expected, but that has not fazed her.
“It was a great challenge but also a great honour and I did not feel that as any extra pressure, as all my teammates were so nice and helpful.
“In general, I think we have been good at sticking together as a united group and that is a big part of our success,” says Jónsdóttir, who also earns praise from her coach.
“Originally, Rut was signed as a backup on the right back as well as on the right wing, but with Burgaard’s injury break, she was thrown before the lions from the start as right back, and I must say she solved that task very well.
“She may not be the type of player who can shoot from nine or 10 meters, but from seven to eight meters, she is really efficient, and the fact that she can also play the wing makes her even more valuable to us.
“Of course, it also plays a part that she is a really nice girl on as well as off the court,” says Kristian Kristensen, head coach in FC Midtjylland.
Rut Jónsdóttir and her teammates are starting their main round group with four points before taking on their new opponents, RK Krim Mercator, Larvik and Team Esbjerg.
“That is going to be another great adventure and a big challenge for me.
“It is difficult to predict how we will do, especially now that we have a smaller squad after Fie Woller and Eliza Buceschi have left, but I hope and believe that we will just stand even more together, and I am definitely keen on more success,” she says.
Eight meaningful years in Denmark
She has been playing in Denmark for eight years now, first in TTH Holstebro and then in Randers before moving on to Midtjylland this summer.
“When I came to Holstebro, they were still in the 1st Division (the second best league in Denmark) and as I was only 18 at the time, this was probably good for me, as it would be a big change from the Icelandic league to the Danish.
“Furthermore, most of the players in Holstebro were my age, so we formed a really harmonic group, and all this matured and developed me, so I was soon ready for the challenges in the top flight.
“There is no doubt that all those years in Denmark have meant a lot to my development – more than I can describe, and I can only wish for some more female Icelandic players to move abroad like the men do, as this might be a way for Icelandic women’s handball to improve,” says Rut Jónsdóttir, who was a part of the Iceland side which fell short of qualifying to the World Championship Play-offs.
After beating Austria and hosts Faroe Islands, a loss to FYR Macedonia saw them finish 3rd in the group on goal difference.
“It is no secret, that women’s handball is far behind the men in Iceland.
“I think part of the explanation is cultural, as many girls in Iceland choose football over handball, because our women’s football team is very good.
“Furthermore, as I said, many more male than female handball players move abroad to develop and become professional.
“I can only hope for more women to make the leap in future. From a personal angle, I can only recommend it,” says Rut Jóndóttir.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor