A data-based look at the Respect Your Talent participants
Throughout the course of the EHF Champions League Women and the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, data analyst Julian Rux provides the handball community with deep insights into the numbers behind the game, analysing what the data says about teams’ and players’ performances.
This year’s EHF Champions League Women features 19 alumni from the Respect Your Talent class of 2021. The programme helps to raise awareness, imparts knowledge, and raises awareness for young and talented players on topics such as dual career, anti-doping, sports law or media. Thus, it is an important contribution to on-court success.
This is evident again in the current season where two players of last year’s Respect Your Talent programme have stood out. But the statistics of other alumni are also interesting.
The statistically most prominent participant of the Respect Your Talent class of 2021, on first sight, is Charlotte Cholevová. With 6.0 goals per game, the left back of DHK Baník Most is not only the best scorer of her Respect Your Talent class but also of her team. Overall, she is the eighth-best scorer in the EHF Champions League.
Last weekend she even managed to score outstanding 14 goals against the defending champions Vipers Kristiansand, who have the best defence this season conceding only 21.6 goals per 50 possessions. No one has scored more goals in a single game so far this season, but Azenaide Carlos scored 14 as well.
Against Kristiansand, the young Czech was responsible for 58.3% of her team's goals. That also shows the big problem for her. While she is the clear linchpin of her team's offense, she gets little support from her teammates.
In turn, the burden on the shoulders of the Czech international is extremely big and her efficiency suffers from this. Her shooting percentage of 52.2% is the lowest among the top ten scorers. In addition, the overall offensive performance of her team is the worst in the EHF Champions League with only 18.9 goals per 50 possessions, although without Cholevová it surely would be worse.
In terms of efficiency, things are going much better for Sarah Bouktit. Amongst all players with at least 25 shots from the field, the Metz Handball line player ranks sixth in efficiency with 81.5%.
But that is far from all. Perhaps even more impressive are her defensive statistics. With 0.7 steals per game, she is the player in the EHF Champions League with the fourth most stolen balls. In addition, with 0.7 blocked shots per game, she ranks fifth for most blocks. No other player is in the top five in both defensive categories.
Of Bouktit’s five blocks, three led to her team gaining possession, which is slightly above average (52.5%). Combining steals and blocks that lead to a turnover of possession, only Kelly Dulfer is better than the French youngster’s 1.1 individually won possessions with 1.3.
Of course, it is insufficient to measure defence based only on steals and blocks as they only make up a part of the defensive work. To reflect the true individual defensive performance, more statistics would be needed because defence is much less based on individuality than offence. Instead, it is largely teamwork.
Metz's defensive numbers overall are very good as well. With just 22.8 goals conceded per 50 possessions, they have the third-best defence. And Bouktit is obviously an important part of that.
While Cholevová’s and Bouktit’s performances stand out the most amongst the Respect Your Talent class of 2021, other players also have interesting statistical performances as well.
Bouktit’s teammate Emma Tuccella, for example, has received less playing time as she has only appeared in three matches so far. However, she scored six goals and only missed one shot. All in all, the 18-year-old has a scoring rate of 85.7%. Among all players with at least seven shots, this is the fifth best value. Even though the sample is very small, this should definitely earn her more playing time to see if she can maintain her efficiency.
Concerning goals scored, Klara Birtic is the second most effective of the class of 2021 behind Cholevová. Per game she scored 3.8 goals, all of them from open play. This makes HC Lokomotiva Zagreb‘s right back the 28th-best field goal scorer of all players. But her efficiency of 50.0% has room for improvement as well.
While they have shown that they are already at a level where they can compete with EHF Champions League veterans, other Respect Your Talent alumni of the class of 2021 have not received as much playing time yet. But it is just a matter of time for all of them at the beginning of their career and as they learned in the programme, the journey to becoming a top player is long and the challenges are multifaceted.
Julian Rux is a data analyst and data journalist. More of his work can be found on his website and blog Handballytics.de as well as on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.