The IHF competition director Patric Strub talked about the upcoming challenges of the governing body in the world of handball, plans for the future, works on Egypt 2021 project, but also gave a conclusion of his 10-years work on developing our sport all over the world for Handball-Planet.com.
Mr. Strub, the last „big thing“ for the world of handball was Draw event for the Men’s IHF World Handball Championship 2021 in Egypt. How do you see it?
- It was spectacular and amazing to be in such a monumental place. A setup which we had in Giza, I have never experienced before for draw events. We already have nice and prestigious places for a draw, but this was something special. The stage was 18 meters high, it was built in two weeks, it was really fantastic to have a handball draw event there.
According to everything that we could see in Egypt during Draw days, Egyptians are more than eager to organize world class event…
- Exactly, this is exactly the case. We have to consider in this moment. When they applied they applied for 24 teams than we decided to extend on 32 what became demanding for the organizing committee a lot more, but from the very beginning they said that they will do whatever is necessary to make tournament-best ever. Unfortunately, the corona pandemic we had in the moment, request additional support from all parties. From the very beginning support of Federation, but also the strong help of the Ministry of Sport for the event. African Handball Federation is really eager to make everything possible for world-class event in Egypt on which they want to show that they are ready for it. It is still a long way to go.
- Pretty correct, that was one of the targets, we have a lot of teams outside of Europe, big chance to spread product handball in some various markets, now new nations from Central America, North and Caribbean. If you have a tional team on world level competition, you immediately become more attractive for everyone in your country. Decision to extend tournament from 24 to 32 teams has more positive than negative sides.
What will go on with the last two places for the WCh 2021, qualification tournaments?
- Tournaments in South America will take place. Uruguay offered to host it, to help event even they are already qualified. Everybody wants to tournament happen. What brings pandemic we have to see, but we are working hard on many solutions, continents working on solutions. We are looking for alternatives.
Egypt 2021 announced proposed medical measures, how many scenarios you have?
- We are making different scenarios when we discuss, development of the situation is so fast that we want to have them applicable, not to change it too much. You received some basic information from the medical team, but, how bubbles will go on, how we will deal with media, etc. Details is now discussing, it is a huge document, more than 100 pages. On the other side, we are looking for good experience, best practice, but however, we will be the first major international event with the teams from different continents. It’s a big challenge ahead of us.
You are IHF competition director since 2010. Did you celebrate a 10th year anniversary?
- Actually, I didn’t notice until you didn’t tell me.
On which part of your work you are the proudest?
- One major thing is that we developed clear and structured bidding event documents and manuals. Of course, these documents are living document, you need to update them regularly, this is one thing which we have to make really soon, because if you don’t do this on an almost daily basis more or less, you can lose on one point what you want to do. What we did during pandemic, we have a lot of updates in regulations and manuals. That is a set of standards which helps you to organize event, to know what you have to do, but also the certain quality and standards for us, to have clear what we immediately know what organizing committee prepared or not.
Where is handball 10 years later?
- Let’s start 15 years ago. I think that one of the main game-changer for handball was WCh 2007 in Germany. After that we had WCh in Croatia, milestone, excellent organization, thanSweden, we always made a step further, always big venues, managed full arena, capital cities, except 2019, but we played in Barcelona, Stockholm, Qatar Doha, Paris, Belgrade, we really made it for big cities. Belgrade women’s final 2013 we still have a record on international competition, this is something which shows the development of handball and now our goal is to spread it further outside of Europe. And we as IHF support work on penetration on big markets like China, USA and India.
Is it tough?
- It is, but if you don’t try you can never make it. If we find the right tools, we will make some results. The community are growing in US market, that is first step in right direction, but we need some time to be honest.
Are you frustrated when you see different “American handball” in promo video for Los Angeles Olympics 2028?
- The situation is as it is. Team handball is unfortunately not popular and they have their own “handball”. This is not good of course, but I hope that 2028 at the latest we will show them what is team handball. Maybe one day they will call it “our handball”, that would be fantastic.
How do you see role and importance of Beach Handball in new markets where the indoor version isn’t popular?
- I think it is really important. I have to be honest it not my responsibility, it’s my colleague Taki (Hristo Boskovski), I have not always the same opinion as people who are doing beach handball, but it’s a good tool. It is surprising how seriously taking beach handball some countries who are not traditional in handball, but also we have traditional countries which are playing on TOP level. Beach handball community is growing on social networks and it’s really important in countries where indoor is not popular. American Samoa qualified for Youth Olympic Games, it’s a huge thing which is not possible in any other sport – concluded Strub.