Sports Day on Thursday, January 12, 2023

At the age of 25, Johannes Jula is already the captain of the German national handball team. In an interview with, the line runner talks about his role as captain, the culture of the DHB team and the prospects for championships in Poland and Sweden.

Happy New Year, Mr. Gola. Where did you try at the beginning of the year? With the family or with the team?

Johannes Julla: I was in my home country, near Wiesbaden, where we celebrated with my daughter’s grandparents. It’s hard to say goodbye, but on the other hand you’re looking forward to seeing your fellow national teammates. I’ve grown a really good unit there.

It’s special to be the captain of the national team when you’re still a young player. how do you feel?

First of all a great honor. And as a huge responsibility. There are great challenges that I have to master, especially in communicating with the national coach and sporting director Axel Kromer. But I live a lot here and now I can rate everything so well.

Has this role changed you personally?

It has not changed, but it has progressed. There are situations that do not happen to many people my age. You will face difficult situations. But if you master it, it will grow tremendously.

How would you describe your relationship with national team coach Alfred Gislason?

This is a relationship of trust that has grown over the years. At first I was a regular international player, then he promoted me to captain, and since then our communication has gone to another level. He tells me exactly what is important to him and what he expects from the team. On the other hand, I give him my thoughts on how we can move forward as a team. It’s a great collaboration, I still consider it an honor to be able to work with such a coach who has experienced and won everything in handball.

The national coach and your teammates describe you as the perfect leader. Is this job tailored for you?

First of all, I feel happy when I am praised in this way. It’s true that I love sharing and taking responsibility. It is important for me to help the team as much as I can.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Gislason complained that the Scandinavians and other nations put more heart and soul into their national teams than the Germans. Do you share this criticism?

Those who are there also play with great passion for the national team. But not everyone is there. There are always individual reasons for this, which you have to evaluate individually. But basically you want the best to play. But everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to be there or not.

As a captain, can you take an active part in creating something like a national team culture?

We definitely have to work to ensure that all players enjoy coming into the national team and provide a framework in which everyone feels comfortable. This also depends on sporting success, because the attractiveness of the national team is correspondingly greater.

How is the mood in the team?

Very well, we’re working really hard and intensely on the things we want to top. We are fully focused on the World Cup because we want to achieve something there.

What can you promise the German fans?

Leaving everything we had on the field and bringing in more and more of what we developed in training sessions and pre-season matches as the tournament progressed. Not only do we want to inspire with passion, but we also want to use good handball. Our goal is to give viewers exactly that.

Are there specific goals you want to achieve in the World Cup?

We do not have it, we did not agree on the placement. The most important thing is that we start the tournament well and make a perfect exit from the preliminary round without losing any points so that we can take a good starting position for the second round. My personal goal is to reach the knockout stages again.

Your goalkeeper Andreas Wolf goes one step further. After a seven-year hiatus, he says, it’s time to medal again. will you come with me

First and foremost, I’m glad gamers head out there to get the most out of it. Obviously Andy’s opinion is that we should get something countable again. But we have to be careful not to overestimate ourselves and approach our tasks with due respect. We’re not on top of the world right now.

Germany has the largest national handball federation in the world, and the two international preparation matches in Bremen and Hanover are sold out. Why does this handball country not perform on an equal footing with leading teams such as Denmark, France and Spain?

The Danes have a totally exceptional generation right now, and the French have been doing it for much longer. There are a lot of players who consistently play at the top international level for their clubs. Our goal should be to get there again. I cannot give a definite answer as to why German handball has not been strong in recent years.

What do you need as a team to work on more than anything else?

We have to find each other, we have to work on operations in defense as well as in attack, working on our strengths and improving agreements. On an individual level, we’re good, but everything has to fit together.

Corona was a huge topic at last year’s European Championships. It wouldn’t be so messy this time, but the IHF introduced very strict rules, for which it was criticized. How do you see that?

This is a difficult topic. We hoped it would be a tournament like before the Corona period, so we don’t have to worry about it anymore. But now the regulations are set as they are and we have to live with that. For us, this means in advance that we have to withdraw again and pay more attention to hygiene than we would like. We would have loved to be closer to the fans for the international matches in Bremen and Hanover, but unfortunately we had to make compromises. It’s a shame, but we have to deal with things the way we’re told.

The World Cup in Qatar showed that public interest in football had waned. Are you worried that handball players will suffer the same fate if they don’t hit it big again soon?

The 2023 Handball World Cup…

… in Poland and Sweden kicks off on Wednesday with the opener between world record champions Poland and France (9pm/Eurosport). In the preliminary round of Group E, the German national team meets Qatar (13.1., 6 pm / ARD), Serbia (15.1., 6 pm / ZDF) and Algeria (17.1., 6 pm / ARD).

Our goal is to inspire people – and successes are part of it. We want to show good handball. People say, ‘This is the team we are,’ and we love watching them. If we could do this, we would automatically draw attention to handball.

In Qatar, there have always been political messages: the Iranian players who didn’t sing their national anthem or debate over the One Love badge. As a captain, do you think about how far athletes have to put themselves on issues like this?

As a person, I think about it and have an opinion on it. However, I hope we can focus on sports in the World Cup. Because we go there to play handball.

Felix Menenhaus spoke to Johannes Jula.

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