U.S. plans for player placement overseas taking shape

In a blog posting on the USA Team Handball website, General Manager Steve Pastorino highlights that as many as 10 American handball players may sign professional contracts overseas in the upcoming season. Four of the athletes are recent West Point grads who will be training with Dormagen’s reserve team as part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. Gary Hines is under contract to play again for DJK Waldubuttelbrun and Adam El-Zoghby, who was born in the U.S., but grew up in Egypt, is under contract with one of Egypt’s top clubs, El-Ahly. Rounding out the list is Jordan Fithian and Mark Ortega, who are expected to play in Germany. Up to two more players (names not mentioned) may also play overseas.

Commentary: In all likelihood, this will be a record in terms of American men playing “professionally” overseas. And many of these players will undoubtedly make up the core of the U.S. Men’s National team as they start on a qualification path for the 2011 WC later this Fall at the Pan American Division 1 championships. If you have been reading my series “Framework for National Team Success” you’ll know that I think that getting more athletes playing professionally is a must for future U.S. International success. As is pointed out by West Point grads Keith Fine and Jonathan Harmeling in the article playing one year in an organized club in Europe is better for player development than 5 years with a club in the U.S.

USATH (Steve Pastorino Blog): WCAP Athletes Visit Salt Lake City: http://www.usateamhandball.org/blog/post/1020
Earlier commentary: Defining a Professional athlete: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.621
TSV Dormagen: http://www.tsvdormagen.de/
U.S. Army WCAP Program: http://new.armymwr.com/recleisure/sportsandfitness/world_class_athlete_program.aspx