Wester: “It really is the heart of handball”
Tess Wester has played the most hours on court for her Netherlands side at Denmark 2015 (3hrs 33 minutes after her final Group B game), facing 141 shots, saving 63 of them to sit on an average save rate of 45%. Along the way to securing progress through to the Eighth-Finals for her sides she has won two Best Player of the Match Presented by adidas awards and even scored a goal – her first in international handball.
The 22-year-old, who plays her club handball for SG BBM Bietigheim, spoke after an emotional match against Sweden on the evening the team heard of the passing away of former Dutch goalkeeper and trainer Jokelyn Tienstra.
Did it mean something special to win the Best Player of the Match Award Presented by adidas on the day you wore black armbands to mourn the passing of Jokelyn?
Of course. Before the match we had a minute’s silence, but the whole day was just a different day for us as a squad. We were all very sad all day and we just said ‘let’s fight for her and show her what we’re here for’.
For me to then play a match like that and to get the award is surely something special.
What were you thinking about during that silence?
I was just thinking ‘thank you for teaching me for what I can do’. She’s a big part of how I am as a goalkeeper of course.
‘Thank you for teaching me what I can do’
Tell us about your relationship with Jokelyn.
I worked with her for seven years when I was little, I started at the handball academy with the youth national team when I was 15 and since then, for three years she has been there every day
After I left the academy I was with her every time when we were with the national team. I knew her so well, I am just really….my thoughts are with her family and friends – the whole team is just thinking about them all.
How hard was it going out to play in such a crucial match?
For me the only thing I was
thinking was ‘let’s fight for her’, because I knew that if I was thinking other things then I would cry and I didn’t want that on the field because I wanted to focus on the game.
The only thing I kept saying was ‘let’s fight for her, let’s fight for her’ and that’s the only thing we could do – and that’s what we will be doing the whole tournament.
You led many times against Sweden but drew in the end, meaning you have to wait until you see if you will finish top. Did it feel like a loss?
Of course it felt like a loss, when you lead by four or five goals with only 10 minutes to play and you lose a point. It’s the exact same thing that happened to us at the EHF European Championship last year and you want to win so ba
dly that you make a few mistakes and in the end you don’t have to make them. Then it just sucks. It’s really frustrating because you know it’s in there, you know you can win. Yu can fight and you can stand together. I don’t know where it went wrong, in the end we know we could have also lost because they had some big chances at the end.
Maybe the result was the right result for both teams.
Do you enjoy playing teams from outside of Europe; you have played Cuba, Angola and China?
First of all it’s different to play against these non-European teams, they do things differently. They play other handball than you’
re used to; in Germany, Denmark and France for example. It’s always a bit of a culture shock. You also know you just want to win these games as well, they’re as important as every game; you just have to be there from the first minute. You just have to do your preparation. I watch my videos, I watch every player and these players are just as important as the players of Sweden as the two points are really necessary if we want to be first in the group. The shooting is always very different when you face non-European teams, it really tests you. They have different timing and different players who you don’t know them as well as the European players who you see a lot for example Sweden and as it is my first World Championship it is the first time I’ve seen all these players, I definitely like it.
This is your first IHF Women’s World Championship, how does it feel to play in it?
It’s a challenge but I am enjoying it, its fun. I love being part of the team and playing for my nation. The thing that is so great about the World Championship is the fact that you have these teams from the Caribbean and to experience all these things is great.
What is it like playing at Denmark 2015?
It’s a really great atmosphere; there are so many people from our country here, from Sweden, from Netherlands. It’s really the heart of handball here, it’s such a big sport here and I think that people should keep coming. The arenas are full and it’s really amazing, it makes you enjoy handball even more.
What can Netherlands achieve at Denmark 2015?
People think we are a little underdog. People say; ‘they are good, they are pretty fast and they play nice handball’ but I don’t think they know what we are capable of – I have a big view of from the back of the court.