Club Management Seminar combines best practice and high-calibre lecturers

Carlos Prieto was a highly successful handball player with experience on court for 10 teams in five different countries, and three EHF Champions League titles won with Barcelona and Ciudad Real. 

Today, the Spaniard is not only a highly successful lecturer and member of the European Handball Federation scientific expert’s group, but also the founder and director of the ‘share and play’ grassroots initiative, which trains kids for life through handball. 

For the third straight year, Prieto was a lecturer and key note speaker at the EHF Club Manager Seminar, which took place for the eighth time on the fringe of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019 in Cologne. This year, 20 handball managers (for both clubs and federations) from 14 different countries – from Portugal to Azerbaijan, Italy to Sweden – participated in the three-day course, which operates under the maxim: “Marketing – fit for future – best practice.”

“One of the main tasks in this course is to share examples of best practice. All participants gain inside views of how other federations or clubs deal, for example, with digital marketing or media management. This brings all participants and European handball in general to a higher level,” said German Axel Sierau, one of the founders of the Club Manager Seminar alongside director of the EHF Competence Academy & Network Helmut Höritsch, and also part of scientific network group of specialists.

Increasing the number of experts in diverse fields

In the eight years since the premiere, 160 managers have completed the course, which includes a blended e-learning portal with topics such as arena setup and event and media management. “Even the lecturers and organisers learn from the participants, for example, the cultural difference when acquiring sponsorships,” said Sierau, who was previously working for the sport marketing and sport management department of the German Sports University Cologne.

This university and the EHF have offered the Advanced European Handball Manager Studies since 2015/16, and the fourth class of students have just finished their exams. “This club management course was a kind of pilot project, which opened the gate to the European Handball Manager,” said Höritsch: “We have great lecturers, and many participants made their way through the studies. In addition, the EHF was able to increase the number of experts in various fields, like delegates or supervisors, through this seminar.”

“Handball in the digital era”

The programme director of the European Handball Manager studies, Stefan Walzel, was another key note speakers on the opening day of the 2019 edition of the Club Manager Seminar, introducing scientific facts and figures for “handball in the digital era,” mainly concentrating on how to attract younger generations to the sport. “The Club Manager Seminar focuses on special topics, while the European Handball Manager course is more about the basics. Both have a strong relationship, and the growing number of participants shows the need and interest for these scientific instruments,” said Walzel.

Digitisation is a core part of this year’s agenda. German amateur sports streaming platform Sporttotal was presented, as was the new iBall and player tracking technology by EHF partner Kinexon. Other topics included the best tools and channels for the use of social media in sports, and the use of smart data in handball. 

“But still the core of this seminar is that all participants have to present examples from their daily business under the headline ‘what works well in my club or federation.’ And those short presentations are the initial point for many discussions,” said Carmen Manchado, EHF Executive Board Member and professor at the University of Alicante.

Another attractive part of the seminar is the link to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and the chance for even more networking within the world of handball, with a large part of the community gathering in Cologne for the weekend. Prieto has personal history with all four coaches of the participating teams: 

“I won the Champions League in the same team with Talant Dujshebaev, Roberto Parrondo and David Davis, and I scored my first goal as a handball professional against Barça coach Xavi Pascual when he was a goalkeeper at Leon.” 

Prieto’s prediction for the final is Vardar versus Veszprém. And the winner? “Veszprém play so strong since David Davis took over, and they are boosted by winning the Hungarian league in a dominant way, so in my opinion they have the best chance. But ultimately, playing successfully in Cologne means to withstand the heat and the pressure, and you can never predict which team is strongest in this point.”

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg


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