Women’s Handball Convention offers innovative ideas for future

NEWS: The 2018 EHF Women’s Handball Convention saw representatives of federations across Europe presented with new ideas for development and promotion

Chair of the EHF Women’s Handball Board, Nodjialem Myaro. Photo: Anze Malovrh / Kolektiff Images

The 2018 EHF Women’s Handball Convention was held at the Maison du Handball in Creteil on Friday, with representatives from handball federations across Europe in attendance.

The convention focused on the continued development of women’s handball, and included presentations from Sport England’s Kate Dale and Joe Edwards, Head of Digital Marketing for FIBA Media, and in that role part of the DAZN Group which together with Infront has signed a major media and marketing deal with EHF and EHF Marketing from 2020 to 2030.

Participants were also introduced to the iBall and Maxi Grip ball by SELECT’s Jan Gubi Wichmann and Kinexon’s Maximilian Schmidt.

Not what you do, but how you do it

Edwards underlined the importance of cooperation with national federations, players, broadcasters, influencers and sponsors – which will be key for handball federations to develop their own media. FIBA’s ‘This Is My House’ campaign for the 2019 World Championship Qualifiers had a reach of 911 million, with 3.07 billion impressions, and there is still a window of the qualification phase remaining.

Naturally, women’s sport was also a focus. Edwards showed a completely different campaign run for the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup, which focused on using influencers to promote the competitions through their own already-popular channels. The campaign exceeded expectations, with more than double the number of posts and engagement.

Edwards said that in both cases, the angle of the campaign and the tone were key in the success: “Sometimes it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

Edwards and DAZN are already working with the EHF to further develop the media strategy for the future. The goal is to increase the reach of EHF social media platforms, improve engagement and grow the appeal to audiences outside the current handball fan base. Each platform requires a different focus and there are already plans for how to further differentiate the content provided.

Taking traditional images of sport and changing focus

Dale was part of the highly successful ‘This Girl Can’ campaign launched by Sport England in 2015, which has resulted in an increase of 2.9 million women within England actively participating in some kind of individual or team sport. Before the campaign started, there was a gap of 1.9 million between the number of men and women participating in sport. Dale spoke about how most marketing of women’s sports clothing and such supposed to target everyday women was in fact unrelatable and disconnected from the reality.

Sport England conducted an Active People Survey to find out why women were not participating in a moderate amount of exercise per week, and all the answers amounted to a feeling of being judged. The key focus for the campaign outlined based on the results were the needs of the audience and their capabilities, values and principles.

Dale stressed that the key figures in the campaign were all found using ‘street casting’, where the advertising team went out and found real women exercising and asked them to take part. “We didn’t make women do anything they weren’t already doing.”

Initially, the campaign was designed to reach women aged 14 to 40, but after the huge success of the first phase, the target audience was broadened to include women aged up to 60. Dale is overwhelmed at the community that has been created through the campaign, which she describes as “a celebration of active women doing their thing.” Now there are almost a million followers across the social media platforms and there have been more than 120 million views of the advertisements on YouTube and Facebook.

Dale related the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to opportunities in handball to reach women who may not have heard of the sport or ever thought they were able to play it. She believes there could be a key demographic yet unreached, where the focus could be on encouraging participation among women of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

“A challenge we must face together”

Before Edwards’ and Dale’s presentations, the conference was opened by EHF Secretary General Martin Hausleitner, who spoke of the success of the Women’s EHF EURO 2018, highlighting the outstanding performances on court. Hausleitner says the time is right to invest even more in women’s handball and outlined the EHF’s interest in focusing on different aspects such as grassroots development.

The Chair of the EHF Women’s Handball Board Nodjialem Myaro followed Hausleitner, welcoming the guests to the Maison du Handball.

“This is a place that promotes cooperation and working together,” said Mayaro, highlighting this cooperation as key to the future development of women’s handball. “It is a challenge we must face together.”

written by Courtney Gahan / ts