The news reached me yesterday that Istvan Madarasz of Hungary had just passed away at the age of 76. Istvan was not only a key figure in Hungarian handball during many decades, serving as Secretary General of the handball federation during about 25 years. He was also an important figure on the international scene, more than many handball fans today realize. Istvan held the position as President of the IHF Medical Commission during almost 20 years. He demonstrated the technical knowledge of a true handball expert, but he was also a researcher and analytical expert, who was able to back up his opinions and ideas with the help of research and studies.
Istvan Madarasz also took a keen interest in the challenges involved in refereeing. He was ahead of many others in focusing on the psychological and physical dimensions. Although he did not have a direct role in the rules development, he managed to contribute on many occasions, with his own ideas and as an informal adviser to the IHF Rules Working Groups. I had reason to think about him quite recently, when I wrote my overview of rules changes in the past 30-40 years. In fact, I was always grateful to Istvan for the support he offered when I myself had some ideas for rules changes that needed the backing of a respected technical expert.
But people who came in contact with Istvan were always enjoying his friendliness and helpful attitude even if they did not need, or know about, his enormous technical expertise. Istvan had many reasons to be proud of his status and accomplishments, but the most striking thing about him was his modesty, his gentle personality and his winning smile. It was always a pleasure to meet him at some event and benefit from his wisdom but also simply to enjoy the pleasure of his company. Istvan Madarasz will be missed, but he should always be remembered as an important contributor to the development of our sport and as a true gentleman!