World Championships deserve solid organization also at the youth/junior level!!

In his posting yesterday, John Ryan applauded IHF VP Miguel Roca for an 'unusually candid interview' on the IHF web site, regarding the many horrors of the recently finished Women's Youth World Championship in the Dominican Republic. I agree, but what for me is more significant is that the IHF allows a World Championship to be organized in a location where there are known reasons to expect serious shortcomings.

It is easy to criticize the organizing country, but this is not the whole story. An organizer may have completely overestimated its capacity and/or underestimated what is involved in hosting successfully an event of this magnitude; and sometimes one might feel that a federation should know better than to ask to be the host.

But the reality, also in this case, is that there are always enough people in the IHF and the Continental Federation who should know what the situation is, and should use their best judgment to make a clear recommendation for or against. The decisions are these days formally taken by the Congress, but this is not so important; a Congress will not really allocate an event if the IHF Council clearly is against it. In fact, such a proposal would not even be put to a vote.

It is also a reality, unfortunately, that sometimes a lower level event is not seen as 'such a big deal' and so there could be a tendency to allocate events on a political basis or in a carefree manner. In my IHF years, I sometimes heard comments like 'it is only a youth (or junior) event'… But, to mention just some examples, should these teams have to put up with a situation where buses get lost or never arrive; should they have to face a communications and logistics chaos? should they have to deal with power outages during entire matches or during the critical stages of the final? And should they have to be concerned about their personal safety!!!

Clearly, political considerations and carelessness are not explaining everything. To some extent, the participating teams themselves share in the blame. The teams have to pay a daily fee per player to cover hotel, food , transportation and everything else. And often a proposal from a potential host is met with the outcry that the daily fee is too high to be affordable. Indeed, in Europe most countries who have reliable conditions and experience from organizing events have given up the idea of being hosts, because they are seen as too expensive!

So to find organizers that are low-cost countries but still have the capacity to handle a World Championship in a solid manner becomes a difficult balancing act. It seems to me that those federations who know that their teams tend to qualify for many of the youth/junior events must also appreciate that they 'cannot have it both ways'. You cannot expect it to be both inexpensive and wonderfully organized. Because there are not many countries who have the resources to be such generous and competent hosts, and your teams deserve fair and solid conditions.