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The handball guys took the step from the stands and on to the big stage at the sports gala, with the award for Team of the Year and the award of Bjarte Myrhol as role model of the year. The recognition shows that the success of the national team is not just about sporting achievements, but also about values and attitudes.
We who work with Learn Handball know that Bjarte can talk warmly and for a long time about the themes he is passionate about. Honor and honor to his own person, however, is not something that makes the handball boys' captain talkable. That's why a conversation about the award for Role Model of the Year at the sports gala is very quickly about anything but how exactly it feels. But he admits it hangs high...
"It's an amazing feeling to experience that people value both our results and the way we stand. There are so many amazing role models among Norwegian athletes, so it's clear this is a good thing."
MenBjarte would rather talk about the team he is part of, the ones that were named Team of the Year in razor-sharp competition with top athletes from several branches. More precisely, he wants to talk about how important healthy values on and off the pitch are to the sporting success that handball guys are now experiencing. Values that allow humility and sky-high ambitions to work together, both in individual players and teams. It is in that context that we can get Bjarte Myrhol to talk about what it means to be a role model.
"Values a very important part of the work of Christian Berge. Values are central when he builds groups that will work together, and perhaps this is what he is best at. I think there are two things that make the national team now experience success: the unity of this group in combination with a very clear handball philosophy. Unity is created when we put the players and the team ahead of ourselves, and then there comes good interaction. Here I think that the national team we have now are good role models. This is a gang that manages to have enormously high ambitions, while preserving ground contact. We have managed to make a competitive advantage," bjarte says.
Being true to a healthy value base is hugely important, both for the national team and the Norwegian players who are now coming out in top international clubs, the captain believes.
"For me, it has been very easy to retain the fundamental values we cultivate in Norwegian sport, and that has been one of the success criteria of my career. That's why it's also my main advice to the young guys who go out. It is appreciated that you take care of and speak to everyone with the respect of the same respect, and show that you want the club and fellow players the best. You're going to treat people equally and with respect, whether they're the ones cleaning the hall, the judges or the boss. These are attitudes that are not taken as a matter of course, but are labeled and valued in the environment," says Bjarte.
He has had a long career at the international top level, and now finds that the dreams of a national team in the world top have become reality. That both the sporting success and the way players appear reaps glory at the big gala stage feels good, the captain admits.
"It has been a vague dream that we should also get there, in the company of so many amazing great performers. In fact, it's been a small goal for us, because it's a visible proof that people care about what we're doing and recognize the ways we look. There is a lot of hard work and patience behind it, and when the results come, the interest in men's handball is also growing in the audience," bjarte says.
Two national teams in world championship finals in one year means increased interest in handball, and that children and young people get to know new role models. Bjarte believes that the new stars that come up are emerging in a way that helps us to awaken the joy of handball among more people. The success of the national teams is one of the most enjoyable of the national teams. Then we must seize the opportunity, and work actively with attitudes and values already from the children's first meeting with the sport.
"Communication is one of the things that distinguishes good and very good coaches, it applies both to width and top. There are many ways to communicate with children, but everyone must experience being seen and heard and that they gain ownership of the handball. If we can see each one, I think we succeed in anchoring the joy of handball deeper in the children. The role of role models in this is to show that the same basic values we communicate to the children apply to those who play on the national team. We will cultivate unity and joy, even when the seriousness is great," bjarte says.
He has followed the discussion about early specialization and about the need to preserve the playing sport.
"I acknowledge that there are a thousand opinions on this subject, but my stance is very clear. For me, it's clear that children's sport is all about having fun. As soon as we move into any form of child training that is all about creating ones, I fall out. Then I'm not interested. We're still going to differentiate on the training, but it's about the opposite of growing the ones. We will ensure that everyone has challenges and development adapted to their level, and that all children have to experience mastery," says Bjarte.
He points out that the handball must also change to catch the youngest.
"Engaging children requires a completely different speed and excitement than before. We're going to follow that development and make sure that the first throws and handball workouts are filled with lots of action, joy and excitement. And how do we do that? I think we need to hold back a little bit with the "regular" handball game, where, for example, there is a very long transport phase from defence up in attack. Let your kids play on smaller pitches, with fewer players, soft ball and plenty of speed. Not least, we need to get handball into schools, especially in the school holidays schemes. That's the way handball should be introduced to children," bjarte says.
From the first meeting, children's sports will also be about values. Bjarte believes the value work in sport is more important than ever. Children and young people follow the world stars of sport through social media, and are exposed to values that are partly far away from those we associate with sports here at home. Then our own role models must be counterweight.
"This is so great with Norwegian sport, there are very few Norwegian athletes who fall into that category. I'm a megafan of the way Norwegian athletes should stand up. It may be a bit boring in the media sometimes, but we have unimaginable healthy and good role models," says Bjarte.
As the handball guys prepare for the European Championships in Croatia, it is in a whole new situation,with expectations that the team will assert itself in the top for the third consecutive championship. It doesn't bother this year's team, and the key word is faith.
"What we have got now, which is perhaps the most important thing, is that we have begun to believe. We have faith in our own skills, and have the confirmation that we have the skills that make it possible. It is virtually optimal prerequisite for success. I actually annoy myself a little that I haven't dared to believe earlier in my career. But now we have built a solid foundation for the future, not least thanks to the guys who come up. These are wonderful young boys with their legs well planted on the soil, who know that it is both hard work and interaction over time. When we see players like Sander Sagosen andMagnus Abelvik Rød going straight in and asserting themselves in the best leagues, more eyes get on norwegian handball. It is also due to how they are where the publishing house, listening to the coaches, are nice and positive types. It promises very well for the future, and that handball will continue to develop good role models for children and young people."
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