Lindboe taking his indoor experience to the beach
André Lindboe, the cap backwards on his head, is leaving court 3 at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 in Varna with his Norway shirt taken off.
He is still wearing No. 15 – as a tattoo on his left chest.
“It is my lucky number, it has always been,” he says. “It was my first jersey when I started in football at a low age, and I have always had it. So, for me it is my lucky number, and I will always aim to have that one.”
The sun is burning down on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast and Lindboe seems to enjoy every minute of the championship – his fifth with Norway.
“I really love beach handball,” he smiles. “Good weather and beach, the fun part, the show part of it, I really like it.”
Lindboe’s illustrious career has seen him score 96 goals in 59 matches for the Norwegian national handball team.
He had his debut in a major event at the EHF EURO 2014 and helped Norway win World Championship silver in 2017 under Christian Berge, the same coach that had brought him to Elverum eight years earlier.
Joining the club in February 2009 on a one-and-a-half-year contract, Lindboe ended up staying nine and a half years, producing magic for Elverum with 185 goals in four EHF Champions League seasons.
But for him, it will be all about playing on sandy courts from now. The left wing has spent the last three seasons with ØIF Arendal before deciding to quit the indoor game.
“I am done, I am thinking about my family and let them decide,” says Lindboe, who turns 33 this year and is a father of two.
“Of course, if something comes up that is really interesting, I would consider it. I am not moving unless it is really interesting, so we are staying in Arendal.”
I really love beach handball. Good weather and beach, the fun part, the show part of it, I really like it. I am going to play beach as long as I consider myself good enough.
The creative wing, full of tricks and surprises, has it all to shine on the beach courts, too.
His bag full of experience from top-level play comes handy, even if beach handball is different in so many ways.
“You bring a lot of indoor handball to the beach, especially the segment of making the right choices,” he explains. “You always need to make the right choice in every attack, and also in defence, where we make some plans on where we want the shots, what we want to do, offensive and defensive.”
His ‘been there, done that’ attitude is useful.
When Norway, the runners-up from the Beach Handball EURO 2019, lost their first two games in the preliminary round on Tuesday, no panic was setting in for Lindboe.
“Me, personally, I have been through a lot. I played a lot of big matches, so it doesn’t bother me,” he says, shortly after Norway have recovered with a 2:0 win over Romania on Wednesday.
Later, Lindboe demonstrates his calmness once again. Norway must beat Turkey in the last match of group A to avoid a painful early exit, but lose the opening set 24:22.
After winning the second 24:20, Lindboe steps up to score the decisive point in the shoot-out, which Norway ultimately win 9:6.
“We know we can beat the best, but we can also lose against the worst teams,” he says. “We need to get everybody to look into the same direction. We are an experienced group, the youngest one is 25.”
Still, his guidance is appreciated by the team of head coach Anders Holand Pettersen.
“I get here to help the guys that are in need of this experience,” Lindboe says. “For me, I am here as someone with routine and can be there when it is a little bit hot. And we have young guys that are really, really good.”
Overcoming their difficult start into the championship that included defeats against Spain and Denmark (“Two of the best teams in the tournament, it was of course hard to get points there”), Norway are looking forward.
“If you get to the semi-final, everything can happen,” Lindboe says.
The main goal, however, is to earn qualification for the World Championship 2022.
It would be the first time Norway actually get to play at the global beach handball championship. They earned a place for 2020 with their silver medal from the 2019 EURO, only for last year’s worlds in Italy to get cancelled amid the pandemic.
“We have a hunger for reaching the World Championships, for playing it for the first time. It was supposed to be last year,” Lindboe says.
And if Norway do succeed, they will be able for sure to count on Lindboe again next summer.
“I am going to play beach as long as I consider myself good enough.”
pictures © 2021 kolektiff images | Alex Heimken