PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Sara Marteleur & Serge Spooren

Sara Marteleur and Serge Spooren have been chosen by their fellow players and the members of the sports staff as Player of the past season. The two also received the press award. Bart Lenders was voted best coach of a men’s team for the fourth consecutive time. As for the women’s teams, this honor went to Richard Curfs, women’s coach of Handbal Sint-Truiden. Players and staff were able to take part in a two-round vote in the different categories, halfway through the season and halfway through the play-offs.

Due to Covid-19, the usual Player of the Year Gala has been replaced by an online show, broadcast by the newspaper Het Belang van Limburg. As during a real Gala evening, Internet users could enjoy a mix of action images and trophy presentations. Eric Dupain, media consultant to the URHB, and a team of cameramen were able to parade all the winners in order to award them the various prizes.

Sofie Nouwen, goalkeeper of DHW Antwerpen (who played last year under the colors of Hubo Initia Hasselt) has been named goalkeeper of the year. She took the best out of Edith Cochici (Handbal Sint-Truiden). Among the gentlemen, Clem Leroy (Achilles Bocholt) succeeded himself. Leroy won with a big advantage over Kevin Siraut (HC Visé BM).

At the Gala, it was not only about sport at the highest level. Leagues were also affected. Jolien Van Gompel in the women’s and Wout Bodvin in the men’s La Liga player and player of the year awards. Both evolve under the colors of Sporting Pelt. For Bodvin, this is a consecration after a long playing career.

The fight for the women’s coach of the year title was particularly close. Richard Curfs (Handbal Sint-Truiden) won fairly well at the end of the first round for his debut in Belgian handball, preceding Rik Stryckers, who easily won the second round. In the end, the two coaches were only separated by a tiny point. Curfs therefore won the Coach of the Year trophy for women from the start in Belgian competition.

In men’s, Bart Lenders and Korneel Douven competed for the most prestigious trophy. As in the past three years, Bart Lenders has been named Coach of the Year. Douven must therefore be content for the third straight time in second place.

The categories of promising referees and referees of the year were introduced by a short film with music by Benjamin Ceyssens. A video showing how the arbitrators were forced to stop everything overnight due to the coronavirus crisis.

The West Flanders duo Simon Depoortere – Wim Verschaeve has been awarded the title of most promising referees. Stéphane Cappa and Eric Schreder won, as last year, the title of Referees of the Year.

The Flemish handball association has also awarded its stars this year to teams that stand out in terms of youth preparation. HV Uilenspiegel and HC Schoten thus received a five-star label, while Achilles Bocholt, Hubo Initia Hasselt, Apoloon Kortrijk, Hestia Bilzen and Sporting Nelo left with a four-star label. Honors and three-star label for Thor, Don Bosco Gent, Handbal Tongeren, HBC Izegem, Pentagoon Kortessem, HC Eecklo and GBSK Groot-Bijgaarden. The Francophone Hanball League has decided not to award a reward for action in favor of young players this year, a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Council of Elders decided to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to the head of referees François Mulleners. In 1970, he was behind the birth of Elckerlyc Tongeren, the current Handbal Tongeren. In the 1980s, he won two titles and two cups with the ladies’s team before becoming a referee, joining the refereeing committee and ultimately becoming the referee. A Special Jury Mention was awarded to the former international referee André Praillet, who devoted his whole life to Handball Villers 59.

The show, which lasted just over an hour, ended with the press awards and the election of the Player of the Year. Both journalists and voters were unanimous, presenting Sara Hammerer with the Press Award and the Player of the Year award. Marteleur beat Celine Clermont (Fémina Visé) and Edel Robyns (Hubo Initia Hasselt), last year’s winner.

New URBH President

The Royal Belgian Handball Federation announced the election of a new President. From 1 August, Jean-Francois Hannosset will succeed current president Piet Moons. 

Hannosset comes from a background as a player and coach, which began more than 30 years ago. Hannosset started as a player with Villers 59, before becoming a coach for Waterloo in 2008. From there, he progressed to the position of Technical Director, while also coaching the U12 team at Floreffe. 

In 2013, at the request of coach Yérime Sylla, Hannosset joined the technical staff of the men’s national team. On an administrative level, Hannosset has served for almost 10 years with the Ligue Francophone de Handball and been part of the joint governing body of Belgian handball for six. 

“Since I first came into contact with handball as a student at the Saint-Servais College in Liège, where Jean Philippe Dubuc managed physical education, I have been very fond of it. After my active player career, it has become a passion – first as a trainer, then as technical director and soon as chairman. It shows that people with a healthy ambition, with motivation and perseverance are able to set things in motion,” said Hannosset. 

Hannosset prioritises growth and continued development as his key goals going forward, while emphasising the team aspect of handball and how that also applies in the workings of a federation. 

“I would like to get more people to play handball so that our handball family continues to grow. The further development of youth handball is another ambition. I notice as coach of the U12 from Floreffe how much fun the sport brings and, at the same time, how the boys are hungry,” said Hannosset. 

“At the same time, those players also inspire me. Just look at the ‘Red Wolves’ [men’s national team] where youth stands up, where young players get opportunities and seize, where young players take responsibility. I hope that the ‘Black Arrows’ [women’s national team] continue during my presidency – that we can find the means to offer the girls the same opportunities. But I am also a realist. Let us proceed step by step without making bold statements.” 

Moons announced last year that he would step down from being President due to health problems, after holding the position since 2016. One of his most prominent achievements was the successful mutual cooperation between the Flemish Handball Association and the Ligue Francophone de Handball.