Cubans reinforce Dominican team

The PanAmerican men’s championship will take place in Chile late next month. This event also serves as the qualifying event for the Men’s World Championship in Sweden in January 2011. Three teams from Panamerica will qualify.

As usual in recent years, it is taken for granted that Argentina and Brazil will grab two of the three slots, so the discussion more involves the bid for the one remaining slot. Here it has been assumed that the home country, Chile, would have a better chance than in the past. But it has also been a matter of speculation, how strong a team would Cuba be able to field. Indeed, after Cuba recently pulled out of the process of qualifying for the Panamerican Games and therefore also the 2012 Olympics, some people have wondered if Cuba might withdraw at the last moment also from next month’s event. Then there is also some special interest related to the participation of Greenland. If the IHF leadership gets its wishes, Greenland will soon be relegated to the status of ‘associate IHF member’ and would then lose the right to participate in World Championships, so this just might be the last chance for a while.

Now there are interesting news from several sources, for instances in Chile and Spain, but especially from the Mexican ‘El Foro de Handball.’ It is seen as being close to certain that at least three former top players on the Cuban national team, who have recently played on club teams in Spain and Brazil, have now become eligible to play for the team of the Dominican Republic. They have acquired citizenship and have met the required 3-year waiting period, under IHF regulations, after they last played for Cuba. This would obviously strengthen the Dominican team considerably and make them highly competitive. In fact, there is also speculation that two more ex-Cubans might soon join the Dominican team. There seem to be some doubts as to precisely when their 3-year period expires, so they might not be eligible next month, but would most probably become valuable additions if the Dominican team were to qualify for the World Championship.

So this continues the ‘tradition’ whereby Cuban star players in the past have become integrated as star players on national teams in Europe, for instance in Hungary, Iceland and Spain. This is not just causing losses for Cuban handball in the sense that the players are gone from the team, but it is clearly also impacting the inclination of the Cuban government to sponsor handball teams at the international level. Bringing up players to earn a good living as representatives for [u]other[/u] countries is most certainly not what the Cubans have in mind.