While I was in France I received a call from A1 Bregenz Youth Academy Manager asking if I would like to accompany him in Hungary as he was one coach short for the trip. Three of the Bregenz youth teams were travelling to Veszprem for the Cell Cup Handball Festival. Having not been selected for the 1st team trip to a tournament in Germany, I thought it was a chance to get some valuable experience as a coach rather than as a player and further develop my understanding of the game. I would be coaching the U18 team, as it would be easier for me to communicate with the team in English.
It was a tough Journey, leaving from France at 14:00 on the Saturday and arriving in Veszprem at 21:00 on the Sunday with a 4 hour stop in Bregenz to re-pack my bag and get some sleep!
The U18 team of Bregenz will make up the bulk of the U21/development team that I will be a part of this season so it was a great chance for me to get to know the players and vice versa. The first game was a close contest between us and Konstanz from Germany. Markus took control of this game but I would be on my own for the remainder of the tournament. We won the game by one goal and I was very impressed with the determination and spirit displayed by the players. The next day we were due to play two matches. I was a bit nervous which is unlike me, but I don’t think the lads picked up on it and we won both games comfortably, perhaps with the help of some lucky tactical decisions by me but more due to the quality shown by the team.
We eventually made the Semi-Final having not lost a game and we were due to play Veszprem, regarded as the favourites for the tournament. Markus was there to help me manage the team again, the boys played extremely well and deserved the win however just an hour and a half later we had to play the final against Konstanz who had given us a close run in the first game and who had been slowly improving throughout the tournament. We eventually lost the game and afterwards I spoke to the players and they said for them their final was against Veszprem, but of course their heads were down. It wasn’t nice to see the guys like this and I felt powerless during the game. My knowledge of the game isn’t so vast and I didn’t have any ideas of how to break down the Konstanz defence. Despite this and my lack of experience the lads said they were happy with the way I had been throughout the week and said I had done a good job, which was nice to hear.
When I returned to Bregenz, it was going to be a fairly easy going week as the first team had not performed so well in the tournament in Germany and the start of the season was looming so our coach decided that we needed some rest time and reduced the number of sessions for the week.
The first game of the season took place on Saturday 29th August but I did not take part as my transfer from Denmark has not been completed yet. I decided to travel with the squad, an 8 hour trip to Tolln. The U21 team played 1st and put in a convincing performance to win by 8 goals. The same however could not be said for the first team, having been down by three at half time they managed to scrape a draw. It wasn’t the start they wanted especially when next week they travel to Norway for the Champions League Qualification against Fyllingen and Partisan Belgrade.