This past summer, the USA’s top pair of officials, Christian Posch and Lars Jedermann had the opportunity to officiate several matches at the Jr. World Championships including some key matchups normally reserved for more experienced/European couples. Officiating assignments are not always awarded strictly on merit, but reports from folks “in the know” are that the American couple earned those assignments based on strong performances. They called matches consistently and accurately without controversy- The hallmark of good officiating.
What’s fairly remarkable about this performance is that they performed so well without calling matches on a regular basis. Club matches in the U.S. are sporadic and in most cases with a level of play several rungs below International competition even at the Jr. Level. So historically match officials in the U.S. and many other Pan American countries might have been decent and competent, but lacking the opportunity for more frequent matches at a higher level it was challenging to take the next step on the world stage.
But, now Posch and Jedermann are getting a unique opportunity to officiate some matches at a higher level in the Austrian 1st Division (Link). Due to a shortage of available referees and some temporary flexibility with their day jobs in the U.S. they have been given the opportunity to officiate several league matches. Reports so far indicate that they are continuing to gain respect on the world stage. The U.S. won’t be playing at the Olympics next Summer in Rio and qualifying for 2020 might also be a bit of a stretch. But, could two quality officials from a neutral handball nation find their way on to the World stage in Tokyo 5 years now? Time will tell, but if the current trajectory is maintained it’s for sure a distinct possibility.
More about Christian Posch and Lars Jedermann: Christian Posch is originally from Austria, and is medical doctor currently living in Boston and conducting research at Harvard University. Lars Jedermann, is originally from Denmark and lives in Houston, Texas.
IHF Interview from the Jr. World Championships: Link