At the European Women’s Handball Championships, BVB handballers went head-to-head in Skopje as the main round of the tournament started on Friday: Netherlands stars Yara ten Holte and Zoe Sprengers faced the German team which included Alina Grijseels and Lisa Antl, who ran out convincing winners. In the interview, goalkeeper ten Holte discusses the tournament, a match against friends and the atmosphere in North Macedonia.
Yara, are you satisfied with how things have gone so far at the European Championships?
“We had a bit of trouble finding our feet in the tournament and we didn’t put in the type of performance that we wanted. But against France, in the last game of the preliminary round, we really showed a fighting performance. We had hoped that we could carry that into the game against Germany, but unfortunately that didn’t work out as we intended.”
What was the problem against Germany? Why did you lose that game so convincingly?
“At some point we started to doubt ourselves. Up until the 12th minute, we were actually doing well and were leading 8-5, but then we lost the plot a bit in attack and Germany was able to launch some rapid counterattacks. After that, we played with little belief and a lot of doubts, both in defence and in attack.”
What’s your opinion of North Macedonia so far?
“I’ve been here before, seven and a half years ago, at the U17 World Cup. Actually, not that much has changed. The hall is a bit more modern, but the food is unfortunately just as bad as it was then (laughs). And there weren’t as many spectators as we would have liked, unfortunately. In the first game for North Macedonia against France it was completely full, but then against us unfortunately not anymore. We also have a few fans from home cheering us on from the stands.”
What’s it like when you face players you play with in the same team and are friends with, like against Germany? You are also staying in the same hotel.
“During the tournament, we actually are in contact all the time. Here in the hotel, we also met each other immediately and talked briefly. But of course, you also play against each other and are focused on the game. On the field we are competitors, but off the field we are good friends and we talk to each other normally. Just like in Dortmund.”
Speaking of Dortmund, will you be happy to be back home in Dortmund at some point?
“Of course, you’re happy when you’re back home. But not if you haven’t reached your goal. We are determined to reach the semi-finals and travel to Ljubljana for the final weekend. We don’t want to play for fifth place there but compete for a medal.”
You’re on minus four points just like Germany. What can the Netherlands still achieve?
“Everything is still to play for. We just have to win the next two games and then there’s still a chance to get to Ljubljana. We know that we have to improve and above all we have to concentrate on our own game. We don’t have to worry about what the other teams are doing. And then, of course, we have to go into the game against Spain optimally prepared.”