In fact, the PATHF Championship points to a discouraging ‘polarization’ within our continent. First, while theoretically such a Championship could have as many as ten teams, only seven eligible teams have entered, so the hosts Venezuela are ’rounding out’ one of the groups with its ‘B’ team. Among these teams, we have Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, i.e., the four currently most competitive handball nations from the south; in addition, of course, the hosts Venezuela, but also relative newcomer Colombia. There is no representative from Central America, and the only team from the North/Caribbean region is Canada. In other words, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Greenland and Cuba are all missing, just like the U.S. team.
Four teams will qualify, and the format involves two groups of four teams. The way the groups have been drawn, we have a situation where Brazil and Chile surely will advance to the World Championship from group A, ahead of Colombia and the ‘B’ team from Venezuela which obviously is participating outside the competition. The excitement will be in group B, where Argentina should win the group, but where we may have a tough fight among Canada, Uruguay and Venezuela for the remaining slot. Let us hope the Canada will be strong enough to grab that slot, so that we will not have a situation where only teams from the very South are able to advance.
The Youth World Championship will for the first time have 24 teams. Thirteen of them will come from Europe, after Oceania gave up their slot. Most of the currently strong countries on the men’ side will be there (Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, Romania, Austria, Norway, Belarus and host Hungary). Africa will be represented by Egypt, Tunisia, Angola and Gabon, whereas Asia will have Qatar, Japan and Korea. So the teams qualifying from PanAmerica will have their hands full in August. The event will take place in Budaoers and Erd, towns rather close to Budapest, along the highway leading southwest to Lake Balaton and Veszprem.