«My life revolves around handball»

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«My life revolves around handball»

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Student, marketing specialist, handball player: Chantal Wick has many strengths. The 26-year-old from Zurich is currently focusing entirely on her talents as an athlete, however. She has dared to venture abroad and has been playing as a professional for the Handball Bundesliga club «Neckarsulmer Sport-Union» since July 2019.
Photo Chantal Wick: Swiss professional handball player

«I wanted to develop further as an athlete,» says Chantal Wick, explaining the change. She went to Germany because she found better conditions for competitive sport there. «There are only a few professionals in Switzerland who are able to make a living exclusively from sport. It's difficult in a marginal sport like handball, and as a woman even more so.» In addition, the Handball Bundesliga in Germany is bigger and more competitive: «It's harder, it's faster, it's more dynamic.»

Eight training sessions per week

The decision to focus entirely on sport has matured over the years – «but when the offer came, I accepted within a few days.» Before that, however, she discussed the step with her family and friends – and especially with her boyfriend. «He encouraged me to seize this opportunity and is willing to accept the three-hour journey,» she adds. Since the summer, Chantal's life has revolved entirely around handball: «My everyday life has been turned upside down.» She trains eight times during the week, plus plays weekend games that are prepared by the team and coaches and subsequently analyzed on video. She also attends meetings with sponsors.

Manning all the posts

Chantal Wick also finds the sporting side of things challenging. She is generally a center-back, but as a very versatile player plays in several positions. «I'm a special case,» she says. «Recently, one of the center-field players was injured, so I played there instead.» Her first impressions of Germany are very positive. Because handball is a team sport, she soon made friends, who warmly welcomed her to the team. Her club also arranged an apartment for her and even took care of all the other organizational necessities on her behalf.

«I'll keep going as long as I enjoy myself.»

She has now been signed to Neckarsulm for the next two years – and has the firm target to develop personally and to advance with the team during this time. However she hasn't made any long-term plans. «I'll keep on playing handball as long as I'm physically fit and enjoying myself,» she says. Nevertheless, she is well aware that an injury could end her professional career overnight. «As long as I have a contract, I’m covered, but of course only for the next two years.» That makes it all the more important for Chantal Wick to complete her studies in communications and political science and write her master's thesis by the end of the year – «even if it's bound to be exhausting.»

Weighing up opportunities and risks carefully

As in handball, it is important for Chantal Wick to weigh up opportunities and risks for her future and to act accordingly. She sees her good education as a way to prepare for a second career after her active time as an athlete. Until the summer, she worked for Zurich Switzerland as a marketing specialist, where she was in charge of the Vita Collective Foundations – «I really enjoyed my time there and I can very well imagine working for Zurich again.» On the other hand, she doesn't believe that she will have a full-time handball career for the rest of her life. «I could imagine being a coach in a junior team later, but as a hobby, not as a full-time job.»

Thinking about the future, today

Chantal Wick is well aware that she is also taking a certain financial risk by moving to Germany. After all, she has officially deregistered in Switzerland and no longer pays AHV contributions, not to mention BVG. «I will have to make up for these gaps in my pension provisions when I return to Switzerland.» She has therefore sought advice from her colleagues at Zurich and Vita on what she needs to consider and, for example, how best to invest her vested benefits. Thanks to her good contacts, Chantal Wick received this important information quickly. However, this topic is actually important for every young person, says the sportswoman. «What do I need to take into account to be well-covered for the future? You can't ask yourself this question early enough. That's why younger people are well advised to seek advice, too.» Because what applies to handball also applies to real life: «A smart strategy can decide the match.»

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