The disillusionment had been there for a long time. Of course, mathematically speaking, there was still a minimal chance of relegation until Wednesday evening, but the Spreefüxxe Berlin handball players didn’t have much confidence anymore. Even before the last game of the season, it is now certain that third place will remain and that coach Susann Müller’s team has once again missed promotion to the first division.
“It’s no secret that we had other plans. There’s a bit of pressure off now, but we still want to finish it properly. The fans and the sponsors deserve that too,” said Müller before the home game against Herrenberg on Saturday (6 p.m. / Sporth alle Charlottenburg).
Your verdict on the season is mixed. Starting with the unexpected departures of Leona Svirakova and Sofie Svarrer Hansen, which the team had to cope with and thus not only lost important top performers but also speakers in the team, to a certain inexperience of the mostly young players, who first had to learn more To take responsibility, the start was more difficult than expected. The Spreefüxxe needed their time to get back together.
“It was not easy. It just took too long for some people to process last year, when we narrowly missed promotion,” explains 33-year-old Müller. “You would like to solve that as a team, but ultimately everyone has to come to terms with it in their own heads.” In her opinion, two of the five defeats and the draw against Bremen were avoidable. But – and Müller is realistic here – you can only get ahead if you consistently perform throughout the season and the Spreefüxxe have to keep working on that.
“Unfortunately, hardly anyone had the security for it. Sometimes you could roll the dice to see how things went,” says Müller. What worked well in training could not always be implemented in the game. Especially in tight situations. There were no leaders, there was no experience. At least until the second half. Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle came together better and better, and each player found her own role better. The result was that the last seven games could be won, including the encounter with the strong playing first division relegated Göppingen. “You saw what the team is capable of,” says Müller, who would like to see her women perform like this more often.
This is also the starting point for the coming year. The trainer would like to continue working on the mental strength of her team and would like to use a mental coach even more than before. “We will also approach the objectives differently in certain areas,” says Müller. “Maybe it will help the girls if we set ourselves several sub-goals and don’t hit it and go all-in.”
Purely from a sporting point of view, the squad was further adjusted. Linnea Aula, Simona Kolosove and Bo Dekker will leave the club, while Chantal Pagel is retiring at just 25. This is opposed to five new signings and four contract extensions, so that the basic structure for the next season is already in place. It gets interesting in the middle of the back, where the only 17-year-old Leonie Baßiner should take on even more responsibility. Together with Lara Sophie Fichtner, who is only three years older and comes from Thüringer HC, the Spreefüxxe rely on a very young duo in the central position.
“We talked a lot about where we should go as a club. And I think it’s an exciting task to bet on young German players who want to build something up over time,” says Müller. Of course she wouldn’t have had anything against a more experienced player. But everything is only possible within the limits of one’s own means. And it’s now clear that the big calibers don’t necessarily want to play in the second division, quite apart from the fact that the financial demands are completely different. A second division club that earns less money and has to work on the side is only interesting for a few.
“Unfortunately, in Germany, equality with men’s sport will not be established any time soon,” says Müller. “But I think you can grow from it. And it’s better to play in the second division than to just sit on the bench somewhere.” Meanwhile, she is ambivalent about the basic agreement that has just been passed by the Handball Bundesliga Women (HBF), which will come into force from 2024/25.
The streamlining of the first league to twelve teams and a required minimum budget of 500,000 euros will lay the basis for more professionalism on the one hand, but on the other hand many clubs will not be able to meet the new requirements and will therefore be less prominent on the handball map than before occur. Quite apart from the fact that the second league with 16 clubs could become more interesting from a sporting point of view, but this still does not appear to be much more attractive for sponsors. “The good thing is that we already know what to expect and what foundations we have to create,” says Müller, who has not lost sight of the climb even on the third attempt. Looking further ahead – not only at the end of the season, but above all at what comes after.