Once again, Germany has made it to the World Cup finals -- this time in handball. We spoke with Hans-Dieter Vaupel, president of the Western German Handball Federation, about the sport's popularity and the German team.
Germany beat France 32:31 in Thursday's semi-final
DW-WORLD.DE: How would you assess the performance of the German national handball team? Has it met your expectations?
Hans-Dieter Vaupel: The team has exceeded my expectations. Before the World Cup, I wouldn't have believed that they would make it so far, especially considering all the injuries they've had. I'm very pleased.
Is handball becoming more and more popular in Germany? Do you think there will still be interest in the sport after the World Cup?
Poland beat Germany in the preliminary round and they'll face each other again Sunday
Handball is not necessarily becoming more popular. It's truly a German sport and, with the World Cup being held in our own country, it's being brought back into people's consciousness. They see that soccer isn't everything.
We've already seen a large increase in young people who want to play handball, particularly between the ages of six and 10. There is the most growth among that age group at the moment. The biggest loss in players is in the 15-16 and 19-20 year-old age groups, which has to do with their school and study obligations. So we have our work cut out for us there.
Many have compared the handball World Cup with last summer's soccer World Cup, although handball isn't quite as widespread. Do you think there are any comparisons to be made?
I've always said that's crazy. In comparison to the handball teams, the soccer teams are more like companies. They have a completely different meaning. Handball players can walk through town (without being recognized), but a soccer player can't do that. I see that as an advantage for the handball player, who is a lot closer to the spectators.
Who will take the trophy home on Sunday?
When I see the enthusiasm of the German team, I have to say the Germans are going to win. I don't think Poland will manage to beat them a second time.