The Qatar based Gulf Times reported yesterday on the IHF Congress and noted that newly re-elected IHF President, Hassan Moustafa has indicated his main focus would be on development of handball in India, China and USA. Specifically he’s quoted as saying:
“I want to develop the game in the big countries like India and China. My aim is to promote and spread handball and to groom more talent. It’s a big challenge and need full support of the community,”
If this comes to pass, it would be a significant change in policy when it comes to developing the sport. Although hard data is not available, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that support has diplomatically been spread roughly equally throughout the world regardless of the size of the country.
Cynically, in an interview with Team Handball News 3 years ago, then USA Team Handball Board Chairman, Dieter Esch, noted that it was his assessment that IHF aid was spread out equally in an effort to gather support from as many countries as possible for future elections. Esch even voiced his frustration in the IHF’s failure to focus on key markets and specifically highlighted 3 countries: India, China and the U.S. Ever the businessman, Esch noted that there was nothing wrong with supporting all countries, but economically it made more sense to build the sport where the potential financial return was greatest. I, for one, concur with this assessment, and in this commentary, I highlighted how European markets were starting to see the light in regards to the American market, even if they weren’t quite successful yet.
For those in other nations, who might see this change in policy as simply a siphon on their support, keep in mind the phrase, a rising tide lifts all boats. For if this focus indeed results in turning India, China and the U.S. into nations that “care” about handball the financial windfall will eventually result in more aid for all.
It remains to be seen if the words at the Congress will be followed by concrete actions, but certainly this is a positive sign. Up until now, the IHF has been far less engaged than the EHF, European National Federations, clubs and leagues. An engaged IHF that seeks to better market the sport in the U.S. and further the develop the sport at the grass roots and National Team can only be a good thing.