Gullden: Balancing excitement, stress and enjoyment is key
Talk to Isabelle Gullden about the DELO EHF FINAL4 and you are sure to see a smile. The Swedish centre back has played in Budapest three times and was the winner in 2016 in her first participation with CSM Bucuresti, scoring 15 goals in the final.
“That’s one of the nicest memories in my career. We were the underdogs back then, but we got the trophy and that was a huge achievement. Sadly, we did not do as well the following two years,” remembers the 31-year-old, who left Romania in 2018 to move to Brest.
It took three years for the French side to qualify for their first ever DELO EHF FINAL4. While most of the team will travel to Budapest for the first time ever next weekend, the excitement ahead of the event is more familiar for Gullden.
“It’s hard to explain why this event is so special. It’s all about handball and everybody’s talking about it. No matter if you’re taking part for the first or the fourth time, you’re still very happy to be a part of it.”
That’s the key to me — finding the right balance between excitement and positive stress and enjoying the moment. There’s no need to think about failure. If you enjoy the games and if you’re relaxed, you have so much more chance to succeed.
Counting on Gullden’s experience, Brest can hope for a successful fate. According to their Swedish centre back, the underdogs have every chance: “It’s all about having the best weekend at the right time. You can talk about tactics and tiredness and what not, but the team that wins the EHF FINAL4 is the one with the biggest heart and that wants it most.”
And what will she say to her teammates before they fly out to Budapest? “I’ll tell them to enjoy it. That’s the key to me — finding the right balance between excitement and positive stress and enjoying the moment. There’s no need to think about failure. If you enjoy the games and if you’re relaxed, you have so much more chance to succeed.”
Although the Brest team will, according to the players, arrive in Budapest with the underdogs tag on their backs, it does not mean they will not do everything in their power to win the title. As Bucharest proved in the past, it is very possible to win the Champions League despite playing the EHF FINAL4 for the first time.
“I know a thing or two about being the underdogs and winning it,” smiles Gullden, who does not see playing against Györ in the semi-final as a bad omen. “We’ve drawn the last three times we’ve played against them, so it seems realistic to say we have our chances. They just changed coach, so we’ll have to see how they adapt as well. For sure, they might look like favourites, but we’re going to play that game to win it.”
The Swede is confident that Brest’s season, which saw the French side lose only two games, both to DELO EHF FINAL4 2021 participants CSKA, will give a solid base to rely on.
“We played very good when things mattered this season. We showed some amazing handball against Györ, and Esbjerg in the quarter-finals. That does not mean we will be able to deliver again on Saturday, but if we pull out a great performance, everything will be possible — like at every EHF FINAL4!” concludes Gullden.