This is me: Stine Oftedal
The new piece in the This is Me series is one that will surely be enjoyable. It is difficult to find a player that takes the court with a bigger smile on her face. And when that player has won everything that one could imagine and was named the All-Star centre back of the EHF Champions League Women for the fourth time in a row, it gets better and better. No introduction needed, just the name: Stine Oftedal.
This is me: Stine Oftedal
It all started with a ball. This is how every beautiful handball story begins, right? It cannot be different, you cannot have this passion and this drive without the ball.
I was lucky to have handball in my blood. It runs in the family. My mother was a player and a coach and, from that point on, it was easy to get it into the system. My sister, who is three years younger than me, also played handball. It was written in the stars.
The EHF Champions League, the EHF EURO, the World Championship, the Olympic Games… Amazing memories, which I would not trade for anything else.
Being in Budapest for the EHF FINAL4 once again brings back amazing memories and certain requirements for every player, irrespective of the name. But I am just happy to be here, I am just humble to take the court once again and try to win another trophy with a team that feels like home.
Not a normal job, but a sheer passion
Let’s just start with the basics. The beginning. Everything has one. Every player fell in love with handball at one point. In my case, it is not a normal job. It is also the amazing feeling that being on the court provides, the rush of adrenaline when you are trying to best your opponent. Yes, one must be competitive, but one should not forget the DNA of handball: enjoying yourself.
I am not saying that handball is not a job, but when you go to work with such a pleasure, it hardly feels like one. It is a job and pleasure merged in one feeling, which can be hard to pinpoint and describe at the same time. At some parts of the season, it can feel like a job, but when you get to the closing stages of an important competition, you do realise that every sacrifice you made was worth it.
And this boils down to a single ingredient: the sheer passion for handball, which is, well, hard to describe. It is everything.
I have already told you I grew up in a handball family and it was basically written for me to take up the sport. You have your ups and downs, but that comes only later, with experience and many, many games played. With wins and losses. Because every time you are there, you learn something.
When I was little, I spent a lot of time in the arenas, because I realised I enjoyed handball. It was a match made in heaven, everything was so nice back then. I totally fell in love – I think this is the right word – with it and never looked back. And then I started to become a student of the game.
Time after time, I watched tapes, everything I could get my hands on. It did not matter if it were men’s handball or women’s handball, I just wanted to watch, learn and become even better. I cannot tell you how much handball I watched, but I think everybody can see what I have learnt during those moments.
Life is funny in that respect, because I watched a lot of players and tried to learn a lot from them. But one of my favourites was Anita Görbicz. She was truly one of the best to ever play handball, with some amazing creativity and a solution for every problem that arose on the court. This is why I say life is funny, because when I moved to Györ in 2017, I had the chance to play with her.
Between 2017 and 2021, I had the chance to share the court with one of my idols from my childhood and it was an amazing feeling. Bonus points for winning everything we could imagine together and then some. Yeah, only handball can give you those feelings in times that you cannot think of. Pretty amazing, right?
It was always my dream, even from when I was little, to be there and to try and become one of the best. I will not say I made it myself, I let others be the judge of that, but I think, in my book, I did everything I could to achieve what I set up for.
Ok, moving on a bit. I knew that I was going to always be a handball player, but I tried some other sports. If you went to Google, then it will be easy to see that I also did a bit of athletics, namely throwing the javelin.
My personal best was not… the best, but, like I have already said, I knew that handball was my path. Maybe throwing the javelin helped a bit with my shot, right? I am just kidding a bit, I know I do not have the most powerful shot in women’s handball, other players shoot the ball harder than me. But when I do shoot, well… It is not that bad.
I love handball because it is a team sport and playing in a team is rewarding. You can forge new friendships and become a family. At least this is what happened in the teams I played for, nearly every time.
The way one treats a loss defines the way how one moves forward
Of course, there are good and bad times in handball. Everybody tends to remember the painful defeats, the moments when everything does not go the way a team plans. Like I have said before, there are ups and downs. It is just the way life is.
However, the most important thing is to get up, shake off the feeling, learn from it and move on. Yes, I have been there a lot of times. Yes, it is not easy and it will never get easy. But the way one treats a loss really defines the way you move forward. I have been there questioning a lot of those losses, which really helped me be better and better.
Yes, it can happen to all of us and it is not a shame, or a problem.
I was lucky enough to be part of one of the best-ever teams, both in international and at club level. I moved out of Norway when I was only 22 years old and that helped me a lot. Different layers of culture, which were absorbed, made me the player and the person I am today.
Proud and humble
Now, moving on to the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest. We have been here a few times already and I am really proud and humble with what we achieved. These events really give a player the impression that they have made it on the biggest of stages.
With tens of thousands of fans in the stands, playing against the best players in the world – some of which are my teammates – is an amazing feeling and it is always worth living. At least once.
It might seem easy, but to be here, we needed to win 16 games. I am super happy to play in Budapest once again, we checked this objective, now we are setting on winning the trophy.
It would be only my third, so I am super motivated and trying to do my best to help my team.
Competition for places
This season has not been easy for us, we had the Olympic Games last summer, basically there were two seasons merged into one. So it was just normal to have ups and downs, like I told you before. But we managed to sneak through, to be here and now we just want to win it.
There are many things that I could say now, but I will let handball do the talking. I think it is just fair. Once again, this might be just the passion for handball talking and taking over, but this is the way I feel right now.
Because in five years, who knows, we might meet on a beach somewhere.