For many, and for sure myself, Cuban handball, has always been an enigma. For every tournament staged in Pan America they are the question mark. Will they show up and, if they do, what kind of a team will they bring? How have they fielded strong teams in the past? Could they return to greatness? How is handball organized and structured there anyway?
To answer these questions and more, I sat down with USA Women’s Asst Coach, Julio Sainz, who grew up in Cuba and has followed Cuban handball for years.
If one looks at the totality of Pan American handball history a strong argument could be made that their Men’s program of the 1980’s and 90’s was the very best program of all time with a string of Pan American titles and a bevy of players becoming top pros in Europe. The Women’s program hasn’t been as strong, but also has shown signs of progress.
Now, with the pending split of Pan America into two separate federations, Cuba will instantaneously be a contender for titles. Indeed, with the possibility of athletes playing in Europe (without first having to defect) could they even become a world power?