For the first time in history the EHF EURO has visited France. If the tournament’s winner is not known yet, since the final between, France and Russia will be played on Sunday in the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, one can already say that it has been a success, sports-wise but also for the public.
ehf-euro.com took the opportunity after the closing press conference of the EHF EURO 2018 to gather the impressions of Sylvie Pascal-Lagarigue, the head of the local organising comittee.
ehf-euro.com: If there was one thing to remember from the EHF EURO, what would it be?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: It would be the enthusiasm in the arenas, how much fun everybody has had. I’ve seen smiles on the faces of the players, of the staff but also in the stands. Everybody took a lot of pleasure during those three weeks and the event has been a real success.
ehf-euro.com: Was it as good as you expected?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: Definitely and on many levels. Playing-wise, we’ve witnessed amazing games and that got an enthusiastic reaction from the people in the stands, including people who had never seen live handball before. In terms of atmosphere, the players would be able to tell you that they’ve played in front of crowds which have lifted them up.
ehf-euro.com: You had chosen to play in cities in which women’s handball is not really developed…
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: It’s true that Montbéliard and Nancy haven’t got a high-level women’s handball club. But the hosts cities have made a wonderful work to welcome the teams and to promote the event. We’ve had a lot of positive feedbacks coming from everybody, including the local actors.
ehf-euro.com: And what about the operations that you had set up during the tournament, especially the Demos orchestras?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: Regarding Demos, we’ve more than positive factors from all the people involved. The players have loved the innovation, because it’s something they hadn’t seen before, but so have the young boys and girls which have been part of it. At the beginning, some might have questioned the project, but in a way that’s normal, because they didn’t know each other. But handball players and young musicians are really pleased because they’ve been able to work hand in hand. Some clubs have even turned to us, asking how they could make this collaboration go on.
ehf-euro.com: Are the ticket sales a source of satisfaction?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: Our goal was to sell 165,000 tickets and we have had a global attendance of 200,000 persons so we can say it’s a success. In some cities, it was not the done thing to convince people to come to the arenas, especially in those which haven’t a big women’s handball culture. But, in Montbéliard for instance, the feedbacks have been really positive. We’re very happy to have been able to have this kind of persons into the arenas, since they wouldn’t have been to a women’s handball game if it hadn’t been for the EURO.
ehf-euro.com: What kind of legacy do you expect to transmit to the French sport culture?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: I hope that the EURO will have been able to put women’s sports into the spotlight, not only handball, and all the positive values that it carries. Spectators have been able to see how much of a show women’s handball actually is, and that it doesn’t suffer from the comparison to men’s. And if the French Women’s Handball League can take benefit from the EURO, in terms of media exposure and partnerships, we will be very happy.
ehf-euro.com: Do you feel some kind of pride as the end of the EHF EURO is looming at the horizon?
Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue: A little bit, yes, since the event has been on a par with what we expected it to be. Everybody, to the organising comitee to the volunteers, have done a lot of work for the tournament to be a success. This EURO will have been a real flash of light on women’s handball.