Star footballer Fridolina Rolfö joins ambassador line-up
Drawing stars not just from the world of handball but from athletics, television presenting and even stand-up comedy, the stellar line-up of ambassadors for the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 is continuing to grow.
Now, the ambassador programme can count a professional footballer among its ranks, as Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfö has joined the squad ahead of the tournament in Germany, played in six cities from 10-28 January 2024.
But what makes this football personality the right choice for one of the biggest handball events ever staged? To answer that we have to delve into her background and into something Rolfö holds incredibly dear, her family.
Handball, a part of her upbringing
“I grew up in a city where many people played handball and, in my city, it was a handball city. My mother played when she was younger and she used to take me to training; my dad was more into football. So, there was that divide: my mom was handball and my dad was football so it was kind of cool I could talk to her about handball and him about football” said the Kungsbacka native.
Handball, then, was very much a part of her upbringing. However, like many youngsters, she was influenced heavily by an elder sibling who ended up setting the wheels in motion for a career in football, “My sister is a big influence for me and this is one of the main reasons that I started playing football in the first place.”
That influence was undoubtedly positive, as the Swedish sensation has made her mark on the international stage. The forward, who currently plays for Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona and the Sweden women’s national team, began her senior career with Jitex BK in Sweden’s top flight Damallsvenskan division in 2011. Her impressive performance earned her the title of Women’s Junior Player of the Year by Göteborgs-Posten.
Rolfö continued to shine after moving to Linköping in 2014, scoring a hat-trick in her UEFA Women’s Champions League debut against Liverpool. In 2016, she joined current Frauen-Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich before moving to VfL Wolfsburg in 2019. Rolfö’s latest move saw her sign a two-year deal with Barcelona on July 7, 2021. With her talent and determination, there’s no doubt that Rolfö will continue to make waves in the world of football.
That being said, the 29-year-old still has not forgotten neither her roots nor her passions growing up, “I am a sporty girl who loves to play football. I love watching handball and playing golf, spending time with my family. That’s me.”
"Handball is one of the most exciting sports to watch"
One gets the sense the role of ambassador means so much to Rolfö as she is a true handball fan and, like any true fan, she is excited to be closer to the action, “It was really cool to watch the last tournament and I hope to get to see the men’s team live in Germany… Handball for me is maybe one of the most exciting sports to watch, it is really fast and intense and has a lot of goals, it is really interesting to watch.”
Fridolina even went as far as to say handball is even more thrilling than her own sport, “I think handball is for sure more exciting (than football), of course if it is a Champions League game in football I might prefer watching that. But the final tournaments in handball are great, and I really enjoy watching them.”
The enjoyment factor is not the only difference between handball and football, according to Rolfö. While she thinks it is easier to get started in football - “I think football is more accessible since it is the biggest sport in the world, there are so many clubs out there and it is much easier to pick up a ball and play” - she believes handball leads the way in gender equality, “It is one of the things I like most about handball, at least in Sweden anyways, the handball players are on equal pay in men and women. It is something I look up to in handball. It has come a long way.”
Her message: "dream bigger"
Despite coming from different professional worlds, one thing the EHF EURO 2024 ambassadors have in common is their ability to be role models. Frido is no different and the message she would give her younger self is one she could pass on to the youth of today; “The thing I would have said to myself would have been: ‘dream bigger’. I didn’t know it was possible to get to this level. I knew I could play football but I had no idea I could become a professional. So, my advice would be to dream big because everything is possible. Every year the level of sport is getting better and better.”