“Cool to play with the Scandinavian gang”
September 21, 2017
INTERVIEW – The large number of Scandinavian players – and coach – in CSM Bucuresti played an important role in the decision of former Norwegian international, Marit Malm Frafjord, to leave Larvik for the Romanian handball powerhouse.
In this exclusive interview with stregspiller.com, she emphasizes that her “good-bye” to the national team is definitive this time.
By Peter Bruun
“We are a whole Scandinavian gang here, and that is cool!”
Marit Malm Frafjord makes no secret of the fact that the many Scandinavians in CSM Bucuresti were one of her main incentives to join the handball powerhouse, in the Romanian capital, this summer.
“We have a Danish coach (Helle Thomsen, ed.) and furthermore, I have my former Larvik and national teammate, Amanda Kurtovic, with me down here – plus we have Isabelle Gulldén, Nathalie Hagman, Sabine Jacobsen and Line Jørgensen on our team – so you can really say that we are a big, Scandinavian gang. It has always been important to me to play with people I know and feel comfortable around.
“I also have a good relationship with the other players of the team, and I have been received very well, here.
“Before making my decision to sign with CSM, I talked quite a bit with “Bella” Isabelle Gulldén, who I also played with in Viborg, some years ago.
“She had plenty of positive things to say about the club, and so far, my own impression is confirming it,” says Marit Malm Frafjord who is experiencing a second foreign adventure in her career after playing for Danish Viborg HK from 2010 to 2014.
“Of course, the mentality is much different when compared to Norway and Denmark, but handball is still handball, and it has not been that hard for me to settle in. It helps that we are so many Scandinavians here in Bucarest.
“Another upside is the climate.
“We still have more than 20 degrees every day. During my first couple of months in Romania, the temperature was constantly above 30 degrees, and that might a bit too much for a Norwegian, but now, the temperature is really agreeable,” she smiles.
A country of contrasts
Going from Norway to Romania, also meant leaving one of the wealthiest countries in the world, joining a nation with some great poverty.
“You do not see much of the poverty in Bucharest, and this also means that we do not see if often.
“We mostly see the contrasts, when we are travelling to away matches. There, you really see poverty in some places, but in the city (Bucarest ed.) with all its fancy restaurants and in our own excellent training environment, we are away from it,” explains Marti Malm Frafjord who is still following her former club, Larvik, closely.
“Of course, it has made me a bit sad to see the problems they have had at the beginning of this season.
“They did win (31:24, ed.) their most recent match against another former club of mine – Byåsen. So, they may be back on track after losing two of their first three games.
“However, I am not really surprised that they had some trouble at the start, considering how many new players they have to integrate.
“Such things take time. We all know that, but the players they have signed are good players, and they also managed to hold on to several of their own great players. Actually, I believe they can compete at the top in Norway already this season.
“A club with such a proud culture as Larvik will not just go under,” finds Marit Malm Frafjord.
National team no more
Normally, the 31-year-old line player and defense specialist would be among the first, Norway´s national coach Thorir Hergeirsson would call each time he builds a team for a major championship.
However, Marit Malm Frafjord won’t be at his disposal any longer. She has said “good-bye” to the national team – for a second time in her career. She had called it quits once before but returned, eventually.
This time, however, there seems to be no chance for another come back.
“Actually, I made my final decision, when I moved down to Romania.
“I can spend the time during national team weeks better recovering physically. This aside, I think it is better to get some younger players integrated in the team, when looking towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At that time, I would consider myself to be too old anyway,” she says with a smile.
“Of course, we are favorites”
Even though she has played for two clubs that already succeeded in the Champions League – Viborg and Larvik – she has never won the tournament herself.
Now, after having joined one of the absolute top teams in Europe, she really has a very good opportunity, to get her hands on the trophy.
In the 2015/16 season, CSM stunned “Handball Europe” winning the Champions League despite being the “debutant” and especially, after having played a poor group phase.
As the club was not able to repeat the triumph in 2017, the Romanian side is ranked among the top contenders for the title in the upcoming campaign.
“These expectations do not mean that we feel any heavy pressure.
“Considering how good a team we have, it is only natural that people rate us among the favorites.
“Of course, we are one of them, but you should not forget that there are several other excellent teams who will also have a say.
“It will be tough, but exciting,” expects Marit Malm Frafjord.