Leuchter sees “Best Young Player Powered by Lidl” award celebrated in packed arena in Cologne

25 Jan. 2024

Leuchter sees “Best Young Player Powered by Lidl” award celebrated in packed arena in Cologne

Germany’s sixth place at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship was the best finish for the European team since 2007 at the world handball flagship competition and it was also thanks to a strong outing from 19-year-old right back Viola Leuchter, who scored 25 goals at Denmark/Norway/Sweden 2023.

Subsquently, Leuchter was nominated for the “Best Young Player Powered by Lidl”, a new award which was presented to the best young player aged Under-22 at the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship, underlining the common values shared by the International Handball Federation (IHF) and its Official Fresh Food Partner, Lidl, in creating a path for the top young talent to be nurtured and developed.

Eventually, Leuchter was selected as the winner of the award, by a panel formed by members of the IHF Commision of Coaching and Methods, thanks to her excellent performances in the competition.

However, in the Placement Match 5/6 against the Netherlands, the 19-year-old right back sustained a knee injury and went to the hospital during the match, as she could not be presented the award.

One month later, still on crutches, Leuchter was honoured and celebrated during the EHF EURO 2024, in a packed LANXESS Arena in Cologne, with 19,750 spectators applauding and chanting her name.

“I fully realised it now, when I received the award, what I managed to do at the World Championship. At the end of the competition, my injury had cast a small shadow over this trophy,” said Leuchter, according to the German Handball Federation (DHB).

“This is a great award – and I am totally grateful to get honored in this way. That's great for me personally, but 19,750 fans in the sold-out arena in Cologne are a great stage for women's handball in general. It's unbelievable how many people are enthusiastic about handball.” 

Leuchter, who has shown huge potential since a young age, being selected in the Germany women’s youth team at the 2022 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, has made her debut in the senior team in 2023, when she was only 18 years old.

The 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship was her maiden senior big event and Leuchter has thoroughly proven that Germany might have a gem on their hands. Unfortunately, the knee injury overshadowed the stellar performance and Leuchter is now eyeing a swift return, potentially at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games for Germany.

She will likely miss the Olympic Qualification Tournament in April, which will take place in Ulm, on Germany’s home court, but Leuchter wants to return on the court as soon as she is able to.

“I will recap the World Championship a little bit – and an award like this speeds up healing. But I don't want to rush anything when it comes to my comeback. I hope I get back as soon as possible, doctors are cautious with the prognosis, but I'm aiming for the beginning of April. It's important to take the time,” adds the right back.

Presented with the award by Dr Frantisek Taborsky, IHF Council and Executive Committee Member, Leuchter received the trophy, a LIDL fruit basket, a 500 euro shopping voucher at LIDL and another 500 euro will go to each of the two clubs which formed Leuchter and served as a springboard for her future.

Apart from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Leuchter has her eye keenly on the next edition of the IHF Women’s World Championship, which will be co-hosted by Germany and the Netherlands.

“I hope that as many fans as possible who are here today will also come to our matches in 2025. When you see what it can be like in Cologne, it really does something to you. The anticipation is of course huge,” concludes Leuchter.

Photo credit: Axel Heimken / EHF / Kolektiff Images