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24.01.2018, 20:30◄ last page     


FEATURE: The French goalkeeper feels at home at Women's EHF Cup participants Brest Bretagne Handball but will always be grateful for the experience she gained while playing abroad
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Cleopatre Darleux benefits from Danish years

Once seeking the adventure abroad, Cleopatre Darleux is nowadays happy to stay in her native France.

The Brest Bretagne Handball goalkeeper recently extended her contract through 2020/21 with the Women’s EHF Cup Group Phase participants, who play Randers HK in a Group A match on Sunday.

“I feel really good in France and especially here in Brest. I am proud that the club want to keep building its story with me,” Darleux says.

How times have changed for the 28-year-old goalkeeper after being a professional handball player for 11 years.

“I used to want to play for several clubs in order to discover everything,” she says. “But now I think I have just found the right club for me. People in Brest trust me and I trust them. Why would I change?”

Smile on her face

Darleux moved to Brest from OGC Nice in 2016, the club she had joined two years earlier after returning from a two-year stint at Viborg HK.

Thinking about her time in Denmark still puts a smile on her face.

Between 2012 and 2014, she won the Cup Winners’ Cup, the Danish championship and the national cup with Viborg. In terms of successes, this was one of the best times in her career.

“We had a very good team in Viborg. Our second season was amazing. We won all the titles. I couldn’t have expected a better year,” Darleux says.

A turning point for the Danish club was the domestic cup final in December 2013.

“We were trailing Midtjylland by seven goals but managed to win the trophy after all. This victory put our team on the winning way and we never stopped bringing trophies home until the end of the season,” says Darleux. “Even if all the victories were amazing, I will always keep this first title in my mind.”

In the same 2013/2014 season, Viborg also beat Midtjylland to the Danish league title.

Discover another handball culture

Darleux was 23 when she decided to leave France and play abroad for the first time in her career. The bankruptcy of her then club, Arvor 29, helped her to make a quick decision.

“I did not have the opportunity to look for a new club for a long time. When a big club like Viborg showed interest, I signed quickly because I also wanted to discover another handball culture.”

The move put Darleux in the footsteps of fellow French goalkeeper Valérie Nicolas, who played for Viborg four seasons between 2003 and 2007.

When Darleux arrived in Viborg, she discovered another way of life.

“The requirements are very high in Denmark. I learnt a lot about handball thanks to Viborg’s professional structure. The work they do for the goalkeepers helped me a lot,” she says. “But the Danes are also very careful about what they eat. And everyone play sports, young and old. It was a big change to see this.”

Looking positive into the future

After two years in Denmark, Darleux returned to her home country, and via Nice she has now found her place at Brest.

The club made their debut in the EHF Champions League Group Matches this season. They were drawn into arguably the toughest group, with defending champions Györ, Russian top side Rostov-Don, and Midtjylland.

Brest lost all six matches last autumn and had to continue their European journey in the EHF Cup Group Phase.

They are currently leading Group A with four points from three matches, and Darleux is looking positive into the future with Brest, where Allison Pineau has also extended her contract with three more years.

“I would like to win one trophy a season,” Darleux says with a smile. “I know the club want to grow step by step but titles always help a club to grow faster. I want to feel this feeling again!”


TEXT: Clément Domas / ew

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