When Norway’s national women’s handball team won the European Championships once again over the weekend, questions were already flying over what makes them so good. Experts cite among other things “the Norwegian model,” with engaged parents boosting handball clubs from an early age, and economic resources.
Norway ended up beating other top teams like Denmark’s and Montenegro’s to bring Euro gold home just as they have in 1998, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2020. They’ve also won Olympic gold and the World Championships in 1999, 2011, 2015 and 2021.
“There’s a lot of interest in Europe over how we do this in Norway,” Erik Langerud, secretary general of Norway’s Handball Federation, told newspaper Aftenposten. In addition to lots of support at home and funding of more than NOK 20 million a year, the paper also cited the sheer popularity of the sport in Norway, where the handball federation has more members than those in most all other European countries.
Norway also puts lots of emphasis on its national handball teams (both men and women get equal funding), while star players serve as role models, there’s a strong training culture and continuity among both players and coaches. That helped Norway prevail with a 27-25 score over Denmark once again, backed by nearly 1.2 million Norwegians watching the match live on national TV.