A lively meeting, even if only virtual: handball players from SG Findorff and FC Schüttorf 09 in a video meeting. (Annika Bartels)
If the toilet paper rolls just fly through the air in Bremen-Findorff and near the Dutch border, then it has nothing to do with a new edition of the hamster purchases from the spring lockdown. It is part of a challenge in which the D youth handball players of SG Findorff and FC Schüttorf 09 prove their skills. A test of strength of a different kind because it is currently not possible in the hall due to corona. Each player works at home for himself and her own team – against an opponent around 180 kilometers away.
The unusual thing about it: Nobody from the two teams knew each other beforehand, they had never run into each other. The former was quickly fixed: each player made a short video about themselves in which they introduced themselves. Findorff’s trainer Annika Bartels cut this together into a film for both teams: the first impression was made. “My players were a little embarrassed that I started their film with the Findorff handball anthem,” says Annika Bartels with a smile. The song was performed some time ago by the first men’s and women’s teams of the SG.
After that, the players were able to see each other live for the first time via a joint internet meeting, and then the distance competition began. Week after week there is a new task to be mastered, the completion and frequency of which is proven by mobile phone video. The competition is now in its third round. After each round, the winning team is determined, with each coach counting the individual results of the competition. The eagerly awaited announcement of the results follows, then the next challenge begins. Each trainer alternately gives a weekly task to be carried out. At the moment it is about coordination, technical or strength tasks in your own four walls, in better weather conditions outdoor competitions such as running, cycling or inline skating should follow.
“It’s really cool, it’s already boring in the Corona period,” said Carolin Weymann, a youngster from Findorff, happy about the campaign. “This time we measure ourselves against people of the same age and not just in a club,” emphasizes her teammate Mina Schulte. “It’s varied, and you get to know other handball players,” adds Katharina Vuik. “My players are also enthusiastic,” said Schüttorf’s trainer Ulrich Körner, confirming the breath of fresh air in day-to-day training. Perhaps each coach should take over the internet training of the other team to give them new impulses.
Annika Bartels (center) is very busy at SG Findorff. She has since given up her coaching position for the Oberliga women, but as a handball youth warden and D youth trainer, she is increasingly taking care of the next generation. (Olaf Kowalzik)
The competition between the two clubs arose by chance. It was in March of last year when Annika Bartels wrote to around 100 clubs to get them excited about a free market tournament in Findorff. First in the hall, then on the hustle and bustle: That was the motto. Teams from Flensburg via Berlin to southern Germany registered, but due to the corona they had to forego the beautiful double event.
In the meantime, the two coaches from the west of Bremen and the county of Bentheim had long exchanged ideas. “We even agreed a joint training camp in Schüttorf for the summer of 2020,” says Annika Bartels. But the corona virus got in the way of the two teams. But giving up was out of the question for those responsible. At some point the plan for a joint competition arose – despite the great distance. “We have to make handball attractive for children, the competition is great in our region from horses and riding. Especially with girls between the ages of 12 and 13, “says Ulrich Körner.
In both clubs, the ball throwers stayed with them, despite the almost one-year break in play, because the coaches keep their teams going. “The cross-club challenge, with all the trimmings, feels more work-intensive than standing in the hall twice a week,” says Annika Bartels with a laugh. With the commitment of everyone involved, she likes to do it. At the moment it is easy to think about whether the loser of the overall competition can put together a small surprise package for the winner. “That increases the tension and the joy again”, says the Findorff trainer.
How long will the challenge between SG Findorff and FC Schüttorf 09 still run? “As long as we don’t run out of ideas, it can go on and on until the end of the lockdown,” says Ulrich Körner. He himself has had many good experiences with Bremen anyway. It has been around 43 years since, as a D-youth, he experienced first hand a friendship with the handball players of ATSV habenhausen initiated by the coaches. “Every player even took on one of the other clubs at home,” he says.
Over the years, many reciprocal tournament visits followed, and later Bernd Schwenker from habenhaus even became a sponsor of Schüttorf and Bremen’s handball legend “Hinni” Schwenker was an honorary member. Ulrich Körner still maintains contacts to Axel Siemer, Ulf Behnken and Co., all of them “opponents” from back then. “I’m going on vacation with Bernd and I have a coffee at Ulf’s when I’m visiting the habenhauser sports advertising week,” he says. Would that also be a lasting friendship model for the SG Findorff? “Should it harmonize between the players, why not?” Annika Bartels doesn’t want to rule out anything.