“We won the lottery! “… How well the Blues used their abundance of lefties

Does the ketchup effect speak to you? We’ve all been there once: you smack, smack, smack the bottom of a ketchup bottle, but nothing comes out, – Splatch! – Enough to sink the French fries consumed daily in Belgium on your plate. That’s what the French handball team is experiencing right now, as they take on Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

In high-level handball, this rare commodity is very rare – because ideally, at least two players are needed to occupy the positions of right wing and right wing, that is, 30% of the team, and left-handers make up only 10-13%. of the world’s population – the Blues are now rolling in gold in this respect. Gone are the days when Claude Onesta had to ask right-back Jérôme Fernandez for help at right-back in a gallery of left-backs blocking the way.

“It’s a great asset that other nations envy,” agrees the former Experts captain. With Nedim Remili, Dika Mem, Melvin Richardson, Valentin Porte and Yanis Lenne, the Blues are armed like no other at this 2023 World Cup.. In retrospect, Filip Bana almost laughed.

“It’s a crazy story because for a long time we had talented left-handers and then it slowly dried up, until in the early 2000s, at the Sydney Olympics, we were worried about not having good left-handers. . We were very worried about learning to play with them, there was a confession of powerlessness. And finally, when we least expected it, they all came back at once. Overnight, it started raining left-handers in French handball!”

In search of a lost lefty

How can it be explained? For his part, the FFH president prefers to play it “humble”, talking about a “gift from heaven”. “You don’t have to think of it as a very organized thing,” he explains. There is a large part of luck and chance in the detection policies that are put in place. There, we won the lottery! “. Nevertheless, federal attention also played into this hunt for leftists. Every time a club faced a good club among its youth, it was sure to bring information to the fore by holding it back.

“We are like gold diggers,” explains Philip Bana. We have no right to make a mistake or miss a rare gem. Today, everyone is looking for a piece, be it a goalkeeper or a right-back. My daughter is 7 years old, she came to her club a year ago and everyone was looking at her like she was big, but nothing more. And at one point he said “I’m left-handed”, then everyone told him “come, come to our house!” came to say. Indeed, this thing exists. »

Moreover, it is precisely this feature that made Dika Mem, whose career was not predetermined at all, to try his luck. “If I was right-handed, I probably wouldn’t play handball,” he told AFP in 2017. “I started because I was told that there was a demand for left-handers and I could play in the department selection. “If the phenomenon is not new, most of the left-handers in the French team have a small bottle in blue, but it was still necessary to think about how to adapt to this abundance and use it properly. So the French woman Instead of putting them all in competition for the full-back and right-back positions, which according to their team’s head coach Olivier Krumbholz “would have been a big loss”, France made sure to play complementary profiles and shake off their ever-left-leaning handball codes.

“We ended up with so many left-handers that we diluted other positions where they weren’t assigned, like the playmaker position that Nedim Remilly and Melvin Richardson play today, ‘we’ve never seen handball’ in half a century,” Bana explains. This creates new opportunities from a tactical point of view and creates a lot of problems for opponents. »

Why? “Because 98 times out of 100, in high-level handball, the central midfielder is right-handed. I let you imagine the complexity of the defense to suddenly have to adapt against left-handers,” adds Olivier Krumbholz. Jérôme Fernandez deciphers: “When you’re a centre-back like Luka Karabatic or Ludovic Fabregas and you’re used to defending against right-handers in the centre-half position, the formation created with your defensive pairing you have automatisms and they get angry. you have to defend in the south claw. The trajectories of the ball are not the same, the effects and the delivery lines are not the same, it is not easy to adapt to this. »

Left-handers, “different personalities” for Krumbholz

If this rare species is overrepresented (and therefore pampered) in high-level sports compared to the general population according to various studies, it is due, among other things, to a slightly faster reaction time than right-handed people. About visual and spatial information, left-handed people have never had it easy in society. Even in the linguistics of some countries where the word “left” is often derogatory. For example, in French, clumsy is synonymous with clumsy, unbalanced. And when you’re in a bad mood, how did you get up, as if by accident, huh? In the past, school required them to be forced to write with their right hand or risk trying with a stick.

Although times have changed, fortunately, the lifestyle of left-handers makes them special athletes Olivier Krumbholz: “Left-handed people are often more special players in the group, they are often special personalities. This is due to their atypical career in handball, but also in everyday life. Being left-handed in life is not fruitless. For example, there are many dishes that you find difficult to use. Society is still organized for right-handed people, and this atypical course often produces atypical personalities. Coach Guillaume Gille likes the personalities that the French team is rich in. And the misery of opposing coaches.

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