Seven Players for the Future: European Handball Master Plan
Following the signing of a 10-year media and marketing agreement with Infront and DAZN Group in May 2018, the need for the development of a long-term strategy to ensure the continued growth of the sport was identified. Extensive research was carried out, including a survey of more than 4,500 fans in 10 European markets, as well as stakeholder consultation across boards, commissions, federations and clubs. The result is the ‘European Handball Master Plan: Seven Players for the Future’, a new strategic plan that will form the basis for the federation’s work through to 2027 and beyond.
With its seven pillars – representing the seven players on the handball court – the master plan covers all of the federation’s many and varied areas of core business from competitions, events and marketing through to education and grassroots development. The plan will provide a set of tools through which the EHF and the European handball family will work to realise the federation’s vision to be the “most attractive team sport and grow its community”.
Details of the plan were first presented at the EHF Conference of Presidents in Stockholm in January 2020 on the fringes of the Men’s EHF EURO 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, meant that the development of the plan had to be delayed. A new initial ‘Back to Handball’ phase was introduced, with a variety of support measures provided for national federations.
The EHF has set itself and the European handball family ambitious goals for the future. Through a successful implementation of the master plan, the EHF is aiming for a doubling of the commercial value of the sport and to firmly establish handball as the leading indoor team sport in Europe. To do this it is planned to reach and engage with more people, whether they be fans or active players, coaches or officials, to create the optimal environment for playing the game as well as ensure that there are opportunities for everybody in the sport at every stage of their lives through the development of a ‘handball for life’ concept.
The goalkeeper is the last line of defence, a safe pair of hands and a back-up for everything that happens on court. Good governance forms the basis for the work of the EHF and its member federations. Through democratic structures and transparent decision-making procedures, the EHF will continue to ensure integrity and maintain high ethical standards. Looking to the future, the issues of sustainability and the creation of CSR programmes will be key topics for the master plan.
On the right wing is commercial success – dependent on teammates, but if the team plays well together, success will come. The result of all our efforts to promote and develop the sport as a top-class entertainment product will be to continuously increase the commercial value of European handball. This will be achieved by optimising traditional revenue streams as well as identifying new and innovative sources of income. Ultimately, the EHF aims to reinvest as much of the revenues as possible back into the European handball system.
The line player is one of the toughest positions on the court, responsible for getting the ball back and fighting to score. The success of European handball strongly depends on its administrators, officials and volunteers – their continuous education and the transfer of knowledge within clubs and federations and to external partners will result in the increased professionalism of all stakeholders. Education as well as cooperation and partnerships with external institutions and organisations are also vital.
At left wing is a key component to the future of our sport: grassroots growth. Through the development of ‘handball for life’, the EHF wants to create opportunities for more people to be able to play an active part in the sport irrespectively of age, fitness level, location or time commitments. Special efforts need to be taken to attract young people in kindergartens and schools and to retain more people in the sport throughout their lives. More opportunities for officiating and volunteering will also be important in developing grassroots growth.
The centre back is the brains of the team – they direct play and as a result is one of the key players for success on any team. Handball is and will always be at the centre of everything we do. We will create the best possible environment for the sport, its players, coaches and officials at all levels in order to achieve the vision of being Europe’s most attractive team sport. Work will focus on providing the best conditions for playing the game as well as continued investment in technology to further improve officiating and bring the game even closer to fans.
The right back is one of the most valued players in handball. Therefore, our aim of supplying handball fans with thrilling, personalised and easy-to-access content 24/7, 365 days a year is core in order to remain an attractive sport and entertainment product. A holistic digital strategy will be at the centre of efforts in order to maintain these expectations for existing and new handball fans. This will be done through a variety of channels, including digital marketing – reaching and engaging fans beyond the EHF’s own channels – content creation, and rights distribution to maximise reach further.
The left back is the powerhouse at the back of the court, a real goal-getter and one of the stars of the show: just like our events. Top club and national team competitions provide a shop window for the sport and offer the opportunity to showcase handball, its teams and its players at their very best. High-profile events including the EHF EURO and the club final tournaments such as the EHF FINAL4 provide a high point to the season. They attract millions of TV viewers and fans in arenas across Europe and are an attractive platform for partners and sponsors. The EHF and EHF Marketing will work together with Infront and DAZN as well as with organisers to further promote, develop and professionalise the approach to its benchmark events to ensure the best possible fan experience.