Handball Talk at RAMPF
RAMPF has a player patronage this season with goalkeeper Mike Jensen from handball Bundesliga club HBW Balingen-Weilstetten. As part of this partnership, a joint event for the handball professional and RAMPF trainees was planned, but this was not possible due to the restrictions triggered by the coronavirus.
Nevertheless, RAMPF Production Systems organized a factory tour in Zimmer ob Rottweil for the 25-year-old Dane – and RAMPF trainee Lena Degenhardt had the opportunity to conduct an interview with him. As luck would have it, this interview situation was ideal, as our trainee is herself a handball professional at the Bundesliga club TUSSIES Metzingen.
Hi Mike! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, despite the difficult situation at the moment. Our meeting was actually planned quite differently to what we are doing now, but unusual circumstances are also the order of the day in handball, right?
Yes, everything is very different from a year ago. We’re playing in front of empty ranks and are regularly tested for the coronavirus. These measures are all correct and important to ensure the health of everyone involved in the sport. I’m very happy that we can still play, but I have to say that I really miss the spectators. They are, as one says, the eighth man.
You moved from Denmark to Balingen almost a year and a half ago. Returning home for a quick visit is probably not possible at the moment…
No, you're right. The current rules don’t allow this, as Denmark is also a corona risk area. I haven't seen my family in five months, but health and safety are the most important things right now. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to do video calls, so I can at least “see” my family.
You will be spending a lot of time in Balingen. What do you do when you’re not playing handball?
I came to Germany from Denmark to fully concentrate on handball. It's my job. In my free time I like to do things with my hands. I love fishing, back home in Denmark I actually have a boat. I also like to work with wood, and I’m currently construction a lot of things with Lego. If I can do something with my hands, it relaxes me.
What did you do before you started your professional sports career? An apprenticeship that also requires manual skills?
Yes, I graduated as an energy specialist, building on an apprenticeship as a plumber. Here I combined my two passions – working with my hands and my interest in technology. That's why I found the factory tour today very interesting. Everything that has to do with technology fascinates me. It was great to see all the high-tech in RAMPF's dispensing systems and that the employees also worked manually on them.
Technology is also being used in handball a lot these days. More and more data is being recorded and evaluated, video analysis is becoming ever more extensive. Do you also use this to prepare for your opponents?
Sure, as a goalkeeper it’s very important to prepare for opponents and the way they throw. Using video analysis, one can identify throwing patterns and try to anticipate these during the game. But of course that's just a tool to keep in mind. When you’re standing in the goal and the opponent runs at you and throws the ball at over 85 mph, then it's something completely different. I'm more of an “instinct goalkeeper”, who is always trying to exude confidence, wanting to show the opponent that I'm ready to parry every ball. I also try to make the most of my height [6’8 ft]. Working together well with the defensive unit is also very important.
Are there throwing positions that you prefer to parry?
In general, as a goalkeeper you want to stop every ball, but seven-meter penalties haven’t been my strength his year (laughs). Stopping balls thrown from the outside is always cool, but I think parrying those thrown from the back are my favorite – and that’s where players like you play, right! (laughs)
Have TUSSIES Metzingen play? Do you follow women's handball?
Last season I visited a home game in Metzingen, the TUSSIES played against Copenhagen and I know their coach. I don't follow women's handball regularly, but I watched the European Championship in my home country.
The European Championships and World Championships are a big topic in handball at present. What is your opinion?
That's a really tough question. I think the health of players should always come first. This season many teams have a lot of games, nationally and internationally, and a World Cup in January is an additional burden.
Let me put the question another way – what would Mike Jensen say if the Danish national coach called and nominated him for the Handball World Cup in Egypt?
(laughs) I’d say yes! It’s a difficult question and always depends on who you’re asking. Playing for Denmark is a big dream of mine and of course I would definitely put on the jersey. But that's still a long way off at the moment, we have a lot of good goalkeepers in Denmark and I'm currently concentrating on the games in Balingen. We really want to stay in the Bundesliga and not get relegated. We didn't start the season that well, but we're getting better and better. That's what I'm focusing on.
We will keep our fingers crossed for you and the team. I hope that we will see each other again before the end of the season and that the other trainees will also have the opportunity to get to know you. Thank you!
Thank you – and of course I’d love to come back to see you guys again.