Al-Ahram Weekly Online   10 - 16 May 2007
Issue No. 844
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Ahli keeps the lights on

Ahli is still celebrating its centenary, this time by way of team handball, reports Inas Mazhar

Click to view caption
The Egyptian handball team clinching titles and winning trophies

The celebrations began in earnest in February and have now extended past the 24 April centenary day, when the club entertained Barcelona -- or was it the other way around. The third edition of the Super Globe Handball Cup will be held in Egypt next month as part of more Ahli festivities.

Besides Ahli, the current club champions from Africa, Asia, Europe and Pan America are eligible to play. The continental champions from Africa, Asia and Pan America have yet to be officially selected by their continental federations. The European representative will be known after the final of the current European club championship.

On 12 May, a Super Globe Cup deal will be signed at the premises of Ahli club. The International Handball Federation will be represented by its president, Egyptian Hassan Mustafa, who is also the president of the Egyptian Handball Federation.

It will be the fourth major handball event hosted by Egypt after the 1993 World Youth Championship, the 1994 World Selection team match versus Egypt and the 1999 World Men's Championship.

Speaking to the IHF online, Mustafa said that months following the World Championship in Germany, he found the German public still enthusiastic about handball, especially with their team winning the title.

"I had several talks with Ulrich Strombach, president of the German Handball Federation (DHB). He told me how German handball should be developed, for example at school. It is a main concern of mine to bring handball into the big cities even more. Representatives from television also assured us that our sport is now something people are talking about in Germany.

"The national team became world champions. Furthermore, either THW Kiel or SG Flensburg will win the Champions League, which is really good for the entire handball scene in Germany. Here, this sport is healthy and this is also important for us, the IHF. If handball in Germany is fine, it will be healthy all around the world. The DHB is not only a member of the IHF; its experts such as coaches and rules experts are leading together with us the development of handball. We collaborate in a familiar atmosphere."

Mustafa said two German clubs were invited to the Super Globe event in Egypt in order to make it stronger. "We got in touch with Kiel and Flensburg to invite them for the Super Globe in Egypt. Both are interested to come to Cairo in June.

Mustafa also spoke about the IHF's efforts to spread the sport worldwide, in particular outside Europe where the sport is already very popular. "We have created a basis in broadcasting the WCH matches in Africa, Asia and Pan America. Handball could be watched in over 150 countries. But now we have to continue our efforts to promote the development of handball in the long run.

We gave birth to the Challenge Trophy to create a new system. For example, we will play this tournament in Africa which, to this end, has been divided into seven zones. The strong teams are not eligible to play. The winners of the zones compete in another tournament to determine a participant of the African championships. So all nations have a stake in the IHF match calendar. There is no system like ours in other team sports. The new idea is that everybody can participate.

"For this reason, the IHF will bear the travel expenses, since we have to do something to develop handball worldwide. We will offer, for example, courses for coaches and referees in parallel to the zones' tournaments to lift the whole level."

Mustafa said he was against holding the World Championship every four years like the World Cup. He believes that while some countries like Europeans will benefit as they have several national, international and continental events, other countries will be losers.

"The teams from Asia, Africa and Pan America would lose an important opportunity to compete and the chance to keep up with the world's top in participating in regularly staged international competitions. Boosting nations like Brazil and Angola would not be possible."

Meanwhile, 119 out of 159 member federations gathered in Madrid recently to attend the XXXI congress of the International Handball Federation. In the presence of IHF member Alberto de San Romàn y de la Fuente as well as representatives of IHF partners, the 300 delegates had to deal with 19 agenda items.

The highest body of the IHF awarded five world championships of the years 2008/2009 to the following countries: 2008 Women's Youth, Slovakia, 2008; Women's Juniors, Macedonia, 2008; Men's and Women's Beach, Spain 2009; Men's Youth, Tunisia; and the 2009 Men's Juniors, Egypt.

The 2009 Men's and Women's World Championships have already been awarded to Croatia and China.

The federations of Ecuador, Monaco, Montenegro and Venezuela were granted full IHF membership, whereas Kosovo achieved the status of "associated federation".

Bader Al-Theyab of Kuwait will succeed Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah as vice president Asia on the IHF Council. Due to a wide range of other business obligations in Asia, Sheikh Ahmed left the position to his Asian colleague.

CAHB Secretary-General Mansourou Aremou (BEN) replaces Taoufik Khouaja, holding the seat as African representative. Jörgen Holmqvist (SWE) and Jean-Michel Germain (FRA) were awarded honourary IHF memberships.

A motion submitted by the Europeans requesting to organise the Men's and Women's World Championships at a four- year interval gained 32 votes and thus failed to win a majority necessary for adoption. Consequently the two-year interval for world and continental championships was retained.

The Egyptian handball team clinching titles and winning trophies

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