This was a truly special season opening celebration: SIGNAL IDUNA, kit sponsor of the handball ladies of Borussia Dortmund, had invited the team and coaching staff to celebrate ahead of the 2022/23 season. On the outdoor terrace on the sixth floor of the head office on Joseph-Scherer-Straße, the German runners up not only enjoyed a fantastic sunset with a phenomenal view of SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, the Westfalenhalle and the south-west of Dortmund, but also celebrated the start of the season that begins on 10 September in a casual atmosphere.
An invitation from the main sponsor always shows their appreciation. And that was exactly what was important to Torsten Uhlig, director of sales at SIGNAL IDUNA. Born in Saxony, he has a close relationship with sport and handball. He lived next-door to national coach Alfred Gisason while he worked in Magdeburg and is still friends with her 20 years on. He was there in person when SC Magdeburg became German champions in 2001 and Champions League winners one year later, and was then on the board of the Dresdner SC volleyball team for four years in Dresden. "At that time, it was a good tradition to get together with the team and coaching staff at the beginning of the season. I got together with Andreas Heiermann to come up with the idea of organising this casual way to kick-off the season for BVB handball in Dortmund too," said Uhlig, explaining his motivation to invite the BVB players, coaches and staff to "the most beautiful roof terrace in Dortmund".
It was all just right: the impressive location, the weather, the atmosphere. After the first drink at the specially furnished cocktail bar, the ice was broken. Alina Grijseels, the captain of the German runners up, spoke of an "excellent, relaxed atmosphere." "I'm really excited and at the same time grateful that we could get to know our main sponsor in this great environment, but also that we got the time as a team to get to know each other better. After all, we have twelve new signings to integrate, and during normal training sessions, there is often no time to do it," said Grijseels.
"For us," said Torsten Uhlig, "our partnership is about more than just money. It is part of our attitude and culture to show that you are appreciated and important to us." Uhlig stressed the great similarities between BVB and SIGNAL IDUNA, speaking of common brand values such as humanity, openness and team spirit.
Rupert Thiele, who stepped in for the ill Andreas Heiermann as deputy head of department, spoke of the "high esteem for the players which this invitation conveys". "We don't just wear the SIGNAL IDUNA logo on our kit – now we know who is behind it," said Thiele as he handed over kits signed by the players and posed for the subsequent group picture.
Conversations were held and opinions were exchanged until late in the evening. For BVB head coach André Fuhr, the celebrations ahead of the start of the season were also an ideal platform for exchanging ideas. "We have taken the first step. We have managed to develop a mutual understanding, and to highlight the concerns and needs of our sport in more detail."
There was also another element that was important to Jan Pohlschmidt, head of marketing at SIGNAL IDUNA: "For us, it is about diversity. Of course, we are particularly prominent at BVB thanks to SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, and we sponsor the men's Bundesliga football team. At the same time, however, we also want to support the achievements of the handball ladies, who train nine times a week. We want to acknowledge and appreciate those achievements. To this end, as Dortmund's largest private employer, we would also like to inspire our employees to get involved with handball and further expand our long-term partnership with BVB."