“I'm not leaving handball”: Russian coach legend Trefilov moves up to federation vice-president role

05 Aug. 2019

“I'm not leaving handball”: Russian coach legend Trefilov moves up to federation vice-president role

The Handball Federation of Russia (HFR) today announced that the Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold-medal winning coach Evgeny Trefilov will step down from his role as head coach of both the Russian women’s national team and his club, Kuban.

Trefilov will take up two new positions, one as Vice-President of the HFR, and one as the Honorary President of Kuban.

Rostov-Don’s Ambros Martin will succeed Trefilov as the national women’s coach. Martin guided his club through to a silver medal at the Women’s EHF FINAL4 last season and was also recently head coach of the Romanian women’s national team, where, missing the injured Cristina Neagu, they narrowly lost to the Netherlands in the bronze medal match at the 2018 EHF EURO in France. 

Despite the loss, fourth spot was enough to earn an automatic qualification place for the nation at the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship in Japan later this year, with Russia also sealing their place in Kumamoto thanks to a silver medal at the same event.

The move for Trefilov comes after a number of discussions between him and the HFR and follows health problems for the legendary Russian coach which included a heart operation a few months ago.

“Evgeny never spares himself and always works with full dedication, giving all his best in training, not to mention matches, physically and emotionally giving 100% and even more,” said President of the HFR Sergey Shiskharev in a statement released by the federation.

“But human health is an absolute value, and Evgeny Trefilov, in the literal sense of the word, is our legacy. His contribution to the success of the women's Russian national team and Russian women’s handball cannot be overestimated. 

“There are the victories of the Russian clubs in European cups, the national team at the world championships, the European championships and, of course, the golden success at the Olympic Games in Rio – he has vast experience, unique achievements, and this will be applied further.”

Trefilov headed the women's Russian national team from 1999 to 2012, as well as from 2013 to 2019 and in IHF competitions – in addition to his crowning achievement of gold at Rio 2016 Olympic Games – he oversaw an unpreceded period of success at the IHF Women’s World Championship with four gold medals (2001, 2005, 2007, 2009), plus another Olympic medal – silver at Beijing 2008.

In addition to this, numerous medals were won at the EHF EURO as well as a number of national and European club titles, including the Women’s EHF Champions League title in 2007/08 with Zvezda Zvenigorod.

"I have given the Russian national team many of my years and strength,” said Trefilov. “Probably, the time has come to finish my work in the national team, and I understand that it is necessary to restore my health, but I'm not leaving handball. I will work on transferring my experience and will do everything for the good of women's handball. I wish success to the national team.”

Martin, Trefilov and Shiskharev met together to confirm the change of roles and the Spanish coach was full of admiration of his predecessor. “I would like to thank Evgeny for the conversation, dialogue and information about the team – it was very important for me to personally talk to Trefilov and only after that to start work,” he said. “Trefilov is a big figure in world handball, and the women's Russian national team is one of the strongest on the planet. 

“He has done colossal and really impressive work. Russia has great traditions in handball, as is evident by victories at the largest tournaments.”