Portfolio

2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship, Algeria

A collection of all the articles written by me during the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U20) World Championship in Algiers, Algeria. From July 18 to 30 I was based in Algiers, Algeria covering Groups A and B, and the finals.

Features:
“We can be a very dangerous predator”
Slovenia goalkeeper Urh Kastelic has played a key part in their 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship campaign and ranks first in his position at Algeria 2017. At 21, the keeper already has an impressive collection of medals, including gold at the 2013 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) and 2014 Youth Olympic Games, silver at the 2015 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship, and bronze with the senior Slovenia side at the 25th IHF Men’s World Championship in France this January.

Developing through valuable international experience
ihf.info spoke with coach Erik Wudtke following their victory against the Faroe Islands – which was secured only in the final 10 minutes after a close fight – about their campaign so far, the challenges of developing Junior age category teams, and the upcoming clash with Norway.

Richardson: “All the teams are very strong”
ihf.info spoke with centre back Melvyn Richardson following the win against Asian champions Qatar. Richardson was named both the Most Valuable Player and as part of the All-star team at Russia 2015, and is a key part of France’s campaign in Algeria 2017.

One game at a time on historic debut
Faroe Islands entered the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship as debutants at a major international tournament, and had a dream start when they recorded two victories to open their campaign.

“Maybe after 60 years I’ll still be learning”
Egypt coach Wael Aly was at the helm of the Junior national team when they claimed the African nation’s first ever IHF World Championship title in 1993. He was also the man in charge when Egypt finished fourth at the 2015 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship in Brazil, and now leads the team at Algeria 2017 – where the African side are in a position they never have been before, and will miss out on the top 16.

Match previews/reviews:
Spain win maiden Junior world title
Spain claimed their first ever IHF Junior World Championship title after an incredible 70-minute battle, which ended with goalkeeper Xoan Ledo saving every shot in the last three minutes of extra time and Daniel Dujshebaev scoring the game-winning goal.

France claim bronze in final seconds
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship bronze medal was decided in a thrilling game, with France claiming the place on the podium thanks to a one-goal win secured with a save from Julien Meyer in the dying seconds.

Spain aim for first ever Junior title
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship final sees three-time champions Denmark taking on Spain in the battle for the title, with Spain hoping to continue their exceptional undefeated run through the tournament all the way to the podium.

Denmark eliminate defending champions France
Denmark claimed the first ticket to the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship final after a tough 60 minutes against France, thanks to the use of a tactical seven-on-six attacking game and a strong performance from goalkeeper Simon Gade.

Spain repeat EHF EURO victory
The second 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship semi-final ended with a clear win for Spain, who beat their Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 final opponents by five goals to claim a place in the trophy match.

European championship finalists contest penultimate match
Two years ago, it was France and Denmark that contested the IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship title in Brazil – and now those same nations meet in the penultimate match at Algeria 2017 to decide one ticket to the final. After France and Denmark play their Algeria 2017 Group B rematch, Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 finalists Germany and Spain take the court for the second.

Unstoppable Germany and Spain book semi-final spots
Germany played a perfect quarter-final match against Tunisia to claim a place in the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship semi-final. The Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists beat the African team by a six-goal margin, before their semi-final opponent was decided in a match that went into extra time.

EHF EURO 2016 finalists ready for quarter-finals
The gold and silver medallists at the last European championship for the 1996-born generation take the court for the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship quarter-finals in La Coupole D’Alger Arena, with Germany meeting African champions Tunisia and Spain taking on Hungary.

France, Germany, Hungary and Denmark book quarter-final spots
France beat debutants Faroe Islands in the first eighth-final in La Coupole, before Germany and Hungary record wins in extra time, and Denmark beat Norway.

Defending champions open eighth-finals in La Coupole
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship eighth-finals in La Coupole D’Alger Arena feature the 2015 Junior and Youth World Championship finalists, the Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists and debutants Faroe Islands.

20 EHF EURO 2016 runners-up win Group A
Round 5 for 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship saw wins for Germany, Hungary and Republic of Korea.

Slovenia and France unbeaten through group phase
Slovenia opened the final day of 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship group phase matches at La Coupole D’Alger Arena with a three-goal win against Sweden, which moved them up to nine points on the table after an undefeated preliminary round. France joined Slovenia on nine points after their victory against Denmark, and secured first place in the group based on goal difference.

Top-of-the-table clashes headline Round 5
Round 4 for Groups A and B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship is all about placement on the preliminary round tables. 2015 Youth World Championship finalists France and Slovenia race to top Group B, while Germany and Norway meet for a head-to-head clash to determine first place in Group A.

Faroe Islands and Hungary claim eighth-final spots
Norway opened Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a decisive win against Chile, before Germany defeated Faroe Islands after a tough 60 minutes.

France and Slovenia play thrilling draw
2015 Youth World Championship finalist squads France and Slovenia opened Round 3 for Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a thrilling draw after Slovenia equalised in the last three minutes. The teams also drew when they met in the group stage at Russia 2015, with a final score of 32:32 in that encounter before France won the trophy match.

Three in a row for Germany and Norway
Germany opened Round 3 for Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a clear win against Republic of Korea. The second match saw World Championship debutants Faroe Islands’ first defeat at the hands of Norway, who in turn recorded their third win from three matches and moved up to six points.

Denmark clinch eighth-final berth
Denmark secured their eighth-finals place as they opened Round 4 for Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a comfortable victory over Sweden, which brought their points tally to six on the Group B table. In the final game of the day, Slovenia faced a tough challenge against Egypt, but ultimately overcame the African team and joined France on seven points.

Qatar and Egypt under pressure
With two tickets to the eighth-finals still to be decided in Group B ahead of Round 4, day five at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship sees some crucial encounters as Denmark meet Sweden, Qatar take on France and Slovenia play Egypt.

Crunch time in Group A
With Norway and Germany safely through to the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship eighth-finals, and Faroe Islands in a good position to make it to the knock-out stage on their debut at a major international tournament, Republic of Korea, Hungary and Chile enter Round 4 under pressure.

2015 Youth finalists open day four at La Coupole
Day four at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship in La Coupole D’Alger Arena opens with a bang as 2015 Youth World Championship finalists France and Slovenia take the court for the first match. Following the meeting of these undefeated sides, Denmark look for their second victory against Qatar, before Sweden do the same versus Egypt in Group B.

Two from two for Norway, Germany and Faroe Islands
Norway opened Round 2 for Group A at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship with a clear victory versus Hungary, before Germany followed suit with an even more significant win against Chile. Both teams thereby earned their second set of two points, and moved up to four points on the table.

Debutants Faroe Islands look for second victory
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship continues in La Coupole D’Alger Arena with Group A matches, where Hungary, Chile and Republic of Korea aim for their first victories against Norway, Germany and Faroe Islands respectively.

France and Slovenia unbeaten in Group B
Day two in competitive Group B at the 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship opened with a clear win for Denmark, who beat a motivated Egypt side by six to claim their first two points at Algeria 2017. The second match of the day saw a close contest between France and Sweden, with France recording their second victory at Algeria 2017.

Defending champions begin with victory
Defending champions France opened their 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship campaign with a clear win over Egypt that put their first two points on the Group B table. Following the victory of France’s 1996-born squad, their 2015 Youth World Championship final opponents, Slovenia defeated Denmark after a close contest that ended with a three-goal margin.

Faroe Islands win debut World Championship match
The 2017 IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship opened in La Coupole D’Alger Arena with a thrilling Group A clash between Germany and Hungary, which ended with a four-goal difference in favour of Germany. Norway followed Germany’s victory with a narrow win after a nail-biting 60 minutes versus Republic of Korea. Faroe Islands wrapped up Round One for Group A with a win against Chile, making their debut at a major international tournament all but perfect.

Work

Upcoming projects: 2017 Women’s World Championship & EHF EURO 2018

The approach of winter also means one of the busiest times of year, with two major international handball competitions held every December and January. I have covered every EHF EURO and World Championship since the end of 2014, and am now looking forward to the 23rd IHF Women’s World Championship in December 2017 in Germany, followed by the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia in January.

For both, preparation has been underway for some time, and some part of my work during the last couple of months has been the team profiles for both events. The team profiles for the Women’s World Championship will be published in a countdown format over the coming weeks as the tournament approaches, while the EHF EURO 2018 website is already very busy with coverage of the qualification process and features on teams.

For the EHF EURO 2018, I will be the website editor, responsible for most of the content while at the tournament. The website can be found here.

At the Women’s World Championship, I will be a journalist for the IHF, with all articles published on the official website here.

Travel · Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament travel: Algiers, Algeria

The 2017 summer of handball tournaments began in Algiers, Algeria in July. The concentration of competitions taking place over the summer has meant a busy couple of months for me from July to September since 2015, when I covered my first Men’s Junior World Championship, followed by the Youth World Championship. This year the Junior World Championship was held in Algiers, after which I travelled to Tbilisi, Georgia for the Men’s Youth World Championship.

In Algiers we stayed in a hotel with an incredible view across the city, overlooking a concert venue which treated me to live music many nights after I had finished coverage for the day. One hot, sunny morning was spent exploring parts of the city on a guided tour, where we visited the Kasbah and the Matyr’s Memorial. The Memorial du Martyr Mujahid Museum was a sad, but interesting and clear highlight of the day and visit to Algiers overall.

Portfolio

Tour Amigo: Destination Guides project

One of my major projects this spring was writing for the updated Tour Amigo website. Tour Amigo is an Australian start-up made for those who like to travel on a tour, where you can enter your chosen destination(s) and receive a complete list of all itineraries that stop in those places from a variety of companies and operators including Contiki, TopDeck, Intrepid and many more.

I have been working with Tour Amigo since the middle of 2015, contributing posts for their travel blog regularly before the upgrade to their website earlier this year. This involved rewriting the previous destination guides to create three different SEO-ed sections on each nation.

Writing about travel is perhaps the most non-work feeling work there is. I wrote the content for almost 50 countries as part of this project, and learned so much about each of them — even those I knew well thanks to my own travels there. The original content was provided largely by former tour guides, who really knew their stuff after months or years of leading these itineraries.

If you would like to read a few samples of my work for this project, you can check them out below.

botswana-1957716_1280
Elephants in Botswana

Africa
BotswanaEgyptKenyaMalawiMoroccoNamibiaSouth AfricaTanzaniaUgandaZambia

Asia
IndiaLaosMyanmarNepalSri LankaVietnam

Central America
Costa RicaGuatemala

guatemala-2293062_1280
Weaving in Guatemala

South America
ArgentinaBoliviaChilePeruUruguay

Europe
AustriaBelgiumBosnia-HerzegovinaCroatiaCzech RepublicFranceGermany,
GreeceHungaryItalyMontenegroNetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRussia
Serbia
SlovakiaSloveniaSpainSwedenSwitzerlandTurkey

norway-2708286_1280Fjords in Norway

Oceania
AustraliaNew Zealand

All photos from Pixabay.com.

Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament Travel: Hungary 2014

Last December, I reached the end of a full cycle of major international handball competitions. My very first, now more than two and a half years ago, was the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary, where I was based in Györ, Debrecen then Budapest as journalist for the official website.

When I landed in Budapest, from where I would travel on to Györ by car, I had little idea of what to expect. And I have since learned that feeling does not go away no matter how many competitions I cover — while also learning I can always expect challenging, rewarding weeks that teach me so much I am a different person at the end. The other thing I found in Hungary, which has never disappointed me at any tournament, is that I will be surrounded by inspiring, smart, driven, fun people throughout all of it. Working in such an environment is a huge part of what makes those weeks from the first match to the trophy presentation so wonderful.

As it was December when the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 took place, Christmas markets lay in the centre of all three cities, making them even more appealing than they might be ordinarily. In general, Hungarian cities are beautiful, and the places I had not visited prior to this trip — Györ and Debrecen — did not disappoint. But this visit — my second of three so far to the capital — convinced me there is possibly no city that can compare with Budapest.

We had little time to explore in Budapest as we were only there for the final few days, but I did manage a scenic run one morning when I woke up before the sun, when I was able to run along the river up to the castle as the sunrise took place.

From the EHF EURO 2014, I went on to cover every IHF World Championship and senior EHF EURO since, though I stepped up to editor of the official website for EHF EURO at the last two events (Poland, January 2016; Sweden, December 2016) and hope to reprise that role in the future.

Portfolio

Women’s EHF EURO 2014

A collection of all the articles written by me during the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia. From December 3 to 22 I was based in Györ, Debrecen and Budapest covering Group A, Main Round Group I and the final weekend.

Features:
Neagu wraps it up for Romania
FEATURE: After a mixed tournament of surprise wins and disappointment, Romania’s Cristina Neagu talks about the EHF EURO 2014 from her perspective.

Tomori: “One person alone cannot replace Anita”
FEATURE: In the absence of Anita Görbicz, Hungary’s new captain Zsuzsanna Tomori is leading her national team through one of its most challenging tournaments, as the co-hosts face high expectations.

EHF Master Coach and Licensing Course concludes in Györ
The participants of the Open Master Coach and Licensing Course, including THW Kiel coach Alfred Gislason, received their qualifications as the course closed on Saturday.

Dmitrieva’s flawless debut
NEWS REPORT: 19-year-old Daria Dmitrieva was top scorer of the match and best player for Russia in her first official international on Sunday.

Huge coverage and exciting arenas
NEWS REPORT: The Women’s EHF EURO 2014 was officially opened in Györ on Sunday with a press conference attended by representatives of the EHF and the Hungarian Handball Federation.

Final stage of EHF Master Coach and Licensing Course opens
EHF President Jean Brihault opened the third and final module of the EHF RINCK Convention Open Master Coach and Licensing Course in Györ on Saturday.

Match previews and reviews:
Norway win sixth EHF EURO gold
REVIEW: Norway claimed their sixth EHF EURO title in Budapest on Sunday, defeating Spain 28:25 thanks to a strong second half after trailing by two at half-time.

A chance to make history
PREVIEW: When Spain take to the court against Norway for the EHF EURO 2014 Final, they have the opportunity to win gold for the first time – and they are ready to grab that chance.

Handball media take their turn on the court
The EHF EURO 2014 handball media took to the court on Saturday for an entertaining match featuring two goalkeepers in shorts, horror movie theme music and dancing referees.

France too strong for Hungary
REVIEW: France won fifth place in the final EHF EURO 2014 ranking with a 26:25 victory against Hungary in Budapest on Friday.

‘Guerreras’ stun Denmark to take semi-final spot
MATCH REVIEW: A deserved 29:22 win against Denmark in Debrecen on Wednesday earned Spain the remaining semi-final ticket from Main Round Group I.

Denmark and Spain fight for Budapest
PREVIEW: When the final EHF EURO 2014 Main Round matches take place in Debrecen on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Denmark and Spain as they fight for Group I’s remaining semi-final spot.

Hungary’s hopes crushed after defeat against Denmark
MATCH REVIEW: Strategic Denmark have ended Hungary’s dreams of reaching the semi-final, defeating the EHF EURO 2014 co-hosts 23:20 in Main Round Group I in Debrecen.

Ungureanu brilliance helps Romania shock Spain
MATCH REVIEW: Romania have won the first of Group I’s second round matches on Monday, defeating Spain 22:20 in an outstanding defensive and goalkeeping battle.

Norway start main round with a thrilling victory
MATCH REVIEW: Norway emerged the victors in Group I’s second main round match on Saturday, recording a 29:26 win against Spain as their unbeaten EHF EURO 2014 run continues.

The main round begins with big matches in Debrecen
PREVIEW: Undefeated Spain and Norway will meet in their first match of the main round when the next phase of the tournament begins on Saturday.

Spain pull off thrilling win against Hungary
MATCH REVIEW: Spain have taken the last two points up for grabs in Group A thanks to a thrilling 27:26 victory over Hungary.

Determined Poland through to main round
MATCH REVIEW: Russia are out of the EHF EURO and Poland progress to the main round after taking a 29:26 win in a very physical Group A match.

Hungary show their true form and qualify for the main round
MATCH REVIEW: Fans in Audi Arena had something to celebrate on Tuesday as Hungary recorded a 29:23 win against Poland, booking Group A’s second ticket to the main round.

Spain first in Group A to make it to main round
MATCH REVIEW: Tuesday’s first Group A match ended with a 25:24 victory to Spain, who have now qualified for the main round and leave Russia to determine their fate on Thursday.

Russia keen to build on promising draw
PREVIEW: Close matches are expected in Tuesday’s Group A matches, while wins for Norway and Denmark could secure two of Group B’s main round spots for the Scandinavian sides.

Tense match between Hungary and Russia ends in a draw
MATCH REVIEW: Hungary began their EHF EURO 2014 campaign with an exciting 29:29 draw against Group A opponent Russia in Györ on Sunday.

Spain unstoppable against Poland
MATCH REVIEW: Spain recorded a 29:22 win against Poland in the opening Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Group A match in Györ on Sunday.

Travel · Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament Travel: Denmark 2015

In December 2015 I travelled back to Denmark – my first home outside Australia – for the 22nd IHF Women’s World Championship. I was based in Kolding then Herning, which was right near the town I once lived in: Ikast, and therefore full of memories and familiar, somewhat dodgy Chinese restaurants.

It had been almost 10 years since I arrived in Ikast as a young hopeful handball player, and I had not been back since leaving, so even walking past familiar landmarks in Herning was wild. Some people complain that Herning is a boring place to be based for a tournament, as many of my colleagues have spent long weeks covering more than one championship there, but I was satisfied simply to find my favourite Danish candy and snacks.

Although the tournament was one of the busiest, it was wonderful to work with the female players. It’s a very different experience interviewing the men and women, and I found many interesting stories – the Tunisian captain who was retiring after 16 years in the national team, Christiane Mwasesa from DR Congo, who is the best-known star from her country and a total sweetheart (though I had to interview her with translation assistance from one of her helpful teammates), and the big-name players I interviewed about their path to the top.

All of my articles written during Denmark 2015 can be found here