- National player Mia Zschocke currently plays in Norway and also follows the men’s handball world championship from there.
- The backcourt player is quite impressed with the performance of the team coached by Alfred Gislason.
- Other than that, Zschocke is happy to be away from Germany at the moment due to what happened this summer when she went public with allegations against a former manager.
The Men’s Handball World Championship is currently underway and Germany have reached the main round undefeated. How would you rate the performance of the DHB team so far?
Mia Zschlage: I think the most important thing was that the team qualified for the next round with all the points. Otherwise, the knockout round would no longer be feasible anyway. The team makes a very homogeneous impression on me. The team seems very well-established and consistent in its individual actions – even if important players like Fabian Wiede or Patrick Wiencek are missing.
How do you rate the previous opponents? Are Serbia, Qatar and Algeria comparable to top players?
Algeria is definitely not a top player, but more of a below average performance level. But with Qatar, you already had an opponent with whom you could start the tournament well, and I call him medium-strong. Serbia aren’t a top team for me either, but it’s still a bit more difficult against a European side than against regular underdogs. But the real top players are yet to come.
Against Algeria, coach Gislason also gave players playing time that had not yet been played. How important is something like that to the structure of the team?
It’s important enough that everyone can come into the tournament and feel important. It is also important that the times are spread over many shoulders. No player can complete 60 minutes, even in upcoming matches. Otherwise, you lose too much energy.
The offensive convinced against Serbia, but defensively there was still room for improvement. Can it take revenge on other opponents?
Of course, you cannot predict this. The defense should be more rehearsed, but that also comes from games. The preliminary round in particular is well suited to warming up a bit. But the defense can win games and it absolutely needs to get stronger.
You play in Norway at Storhamar. In the main round, Germany will also meet Norway. Do you watch the game with your teammates?
Yes, anyway. In fact, we always sit together and watch the games.
How is the atmosphere in Norway? What is the craze for handball there?
It’s hard for me to assess because I’m in my handball bubble and I know fewer people outside.
How far do you think Germany can go in this tournament?
I would say the quarter-finals are realistic. Of course, I would like to see a semi-final. But the road is long. But if the team sticks together, especially off the pitch, it’s still doable.
You can also see from the TV ratings that the euphoria in Germany is slowly increasing. How important is a good performance of national teams for handball in general?
It is certainly important. Success is also linked to getting more attention and taking more pride in the sport. I think with a successful good appearance you can definitely promote the sport.
If you compare the coverage of the Women’s European Championship in November and the Men’s World Cup, where do you see the biggest differences?
Media attention among men is of course significantly higher. However, this is not specific to one sport, but can also be seen in football or basketball. But I think you can see an evolution. That athlete stories are also more often the focus.
You just mentioned football. There’s a lot going on in women’s development, also in terms of media attention. As a handball player, do you look at it and hope that things can go in the same direction in handball?
In any case, it would be desirable for women’s handball to develop in the same way. But I also believe that the character of the team is extremely important: that you show yourself proud and hungry, that you always give your best. Then attention can come.
In the current World Cup, female referees are on the field for the first time and officiate the whistle at a men’s World Cup. What do you think about it?
For me, it doesn’t matter whether a man or a woman is whistling. We are in 2023 and it does not matter if it is a man or a woman. Performance should count.
So you also heard what Christian “Blacky” Schwarzer said about that?
Yes. In fact, I found it irritating too.
[Schwarzer hatte in seinem Podcast gesagt: “Keine Ahnung, wie man da auf die Idee gekommen ist, Frauen bei den Männern pfeifen zu lassen” und diese Aussage auch nach teils heftiger Kritik verteidigt; Anm.d.Red.]
Zschocke satisfied with physical distance from Germany
As already mentioned, you are now playing in Norway. How did you settle in? Was it the right decision for you to leave Germany?
It was definitely the right decision. I feel super comfortable here in the team and I’m happy to be a bit further from what happened this summer. Of course, it takes a little time to adapt. It is currently minus ten degrees, sometimes minus 15 degrees. But in general, I feel a lot of appreciation here. You can tell that all the staff and also the club outside are made up of athletes. I haven’t seen so many in Germany.
This summer, you made public the psychological violence of your former trainer André Fuhr. How are you today ? Do you still follow the news on this subject? It was only recently that allegations were made against another coach, Steffen Birkner.
Of course, I understand. The world of handball is rather small. I can’t rate Steffen Birkner wrong because I haven’t trained with him. But I think systems should generally be created so that something like what happened to us just doesn’t happen.
The German Handball Federation has not necessarily covered itself with glory in this area. The commission originally created to deal with your allegations has already been terminated. Do you still see a way to return to Germany or do you prefer to play abroad long term?
I do not know yet. In fact, I can imagine anything. But right now it’s good that I’m in Norway.
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