20220122 Baijens NED

Baijens: ‘Short players can also play handball’

EHF / Kevin Domas

In 2020, the Netherlands’ men handball team was seen by some as a curiosity, a bunch of players below average height creating havoc on the European scene for the first time ever.

“Back then, we showed the world that you did not have to be two meters tall or to weigh 200 kilos to play handball well,” smiles young left back Dani Baijens, who stands as one of the shortest left backs in the EHF EURO at 182cm tall.

“We showed bigger clubs that short players can also play handball and that we can develop and bring something new to the table.”

In the two years since the last EHF EURO, many of the Dutch players joined some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Luc Steins moved to Paris, Kay Smits signed with SC Magdeburg, and Baijens moved from Lemgo to ASV Hamm-Westfalen.

“I did not have the national team in mind when I made that choice. I wanted to play more, to have more responsibilities,” he remembers. “Now I play 60 minutes in every game and of course it benefits the national team.”

As a consequence of all these moves, the players making up the Netherlands’ national team have gathered more individual experience, helping to drive the Dutch to the main round.

“We are pretty satisfied with that, it was our main goal. Playing these four more games, against teams like France and Denmark, it will bring us some more experience,” says Baijens. For the 23-year-old, this experience is priceless.

If things did not go the Dutch way in the first main round game against France, this does not depress Erlingur Richardsson and his players too much.

“We knew it would be hard, France are Olympic champions. We played a very good first half, but things were a little bit too much for us afterwards,” admits Baijens.

Was it hard, after reaching their main goal, for the Dutch players to get motivated again?

“Not really, we are not here to just play the main round, we would be very happy if we could win one or two games, take four points. No matter against which team,” Baijens adds.

In order to do so, the Netherlands will be able to count on the fans that made the journey all the way to Budapest to support them.

“To see 200 of them in the stands after the game against Portugal, that was quite something. My family was there, I know some other players’ parents came as well, it was really nice,” says Baijens.

The Netherlands still have two games left, so are hoping there will be more opportunities to celebrate before the end of the competition.

20220122 Happy NED

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