This could have been a story about how the U.S. men’s and/or women’s teams were gearing up to participate in the intercontinental finals in the IHF Trophy in Monterrey, Mexico, starting this weekend. The only problem is that we did not have a team that managed to qualify. So as often happened during long periods of ‘drought’ for our teams at the international level, our referees are the ones who play the role of upholding our image. Just as U.S.A couples many times participated in men’s or women’s World Championships in the absence of U.S. teams, we now have Lars Jedermann and Christian Posch, our currently most prominent referee couple, participating in Monterrey.
The IHF Trophy is an event intended to provide international competition against teams of equal strength and background for the small and new handball countries in all continents. It is supposed to get these countries on a trajectory where eventually they will be competitive in the normal continental championships, and the hope is that it will give handball a boost vis-à-vis governments, sponsors, media, spectators and future players in the participating countries. The IHF Trophy did not get global coverage until three years ago, when all continents were involved and intercontinental finals were held, separately for the men and women, in India and Kazakhstan respectively. Now, for the first time, both the men and women will be together in one final event.
For Lars Jedermann, a resident of Houston, it is as close to home court as it can get. For those who are not clear about the Mexican map, Monterrey is the capital of the province up in the northeast corner of Mexico, and therefore right of the border with Texas. It is one of the largest and most modern cities in Mexico and, for many years now, it has been a bit of a ‘hot spot’ for handball. It seems like a place that will be able to guarantee both excellent conditions for the tournament and a nice environment for the visitors from all over the globe.
On the men’s side, the participating teams are Australia, Moldova, Nigeria and Uzbekistan, together with the Mexican hosts. Australia is represented also among the women, together with Bulgaria, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Thailand. The referee crew is equally exotic, with Lars and Christian being joined by colleagues from Australia, Kenya, Korea, Russia and Mexico. Lars and Christian are at this point ‘half-way’ toward an IHF license, after their successful participation in an IHF Course earlier this year. The IHF Trophy should be a good opportunity for them to refine their methods and skills, so that they will pass the test when they get to their next IHF course in the coming months. We wish them success!