The Linz way back to the roots

The Linz way back to the roots
Made the leap from junior to professional: Moritz Bachmann
Image: GEPA pictures/ Philipp Brem (GEPA pictures)

“Never change a winning team” is a truism. One that the handball players at HC Linz AG probably don’t attach much importance to. After the surprisingly good previous season including the runner-up title, there was a big upheaval. On the one hand, deserving players ended the season with the Hermann twins and Markus Bokesch, but on the other hand, other clubs simply offered more for Tobias Cvetko (who moved to Besiktas Istanbul).

“We might have been able to keep him, but I didn’t want to be driven into an upward spiral with salaries,” says club president Bernhard Ditachmair, saying he didn’t want to increase the Linz first division team’s budget. Instead, the amount for young talent was increased from 100,000 to around 150,000 euros within just two years. According to Ditachmair, this is the strategic goal that the club has set itself: “Linz’s strength in the past was very good youth work, which was also the basis for the seven championship titles.”

The former focus on handball in the SMS Linz-Kleinmünchen – the club’s home venue – has been lost, but it is now at least being offered there again. With Max Hermann, the former national team captain was recruited as a coach. The school focus is not just limited to several schools in Linz, “a school from Feldkirchen has also asked whether we could offer handball lessons with them,” explains Ditachmair. Aside from quantity, quality is also being worked on. “We now have twelve young trainers on the payroll,” says Ditachmair, who at the same time admits that he is talking more about compensation than a salary.

These measures are long overdue, as a look at the competition proves. An example will be taking place on Saturday (7 p.m.) in Linz: Cupsieger Hard has more than 26 coaches who are involved with the young talent. At least in the first division table, the gap between the teams is not that big: Hard leads Margareten and Linz with equal points.

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