It's a crash course in Pan Am Team Handball politics for Dieter Esch, Brad Krassner and me. We have met representatives from 18 federations in the past 48 hours here in Foz du Iguacu, Brazil.
President Manoel Luiz Oliveira (BRA) has the thankless task of organizing this region on a shoestring budget. Fortunately for him, the Brazilian federation and professional league are a joint operation - allowing him to leverage the National Team, all Club teams and grass roots programs for sponsorship, television rights, host cities for events (like the congress we're attending) and growth. It's safe to say that Brazil's domestic and international success underwrites much of the Pan Am federation's activities. As expected, neighbors Argentina, Chile and Uruguay maintain senior management roles in the federation.
Mexico is ably managed by former National team player Mario Garcia de la Torre. In one conversation with me, he eloquently described his country's reality of being culturally linked to Central and South America, but clearly co-dependent with the USA for its hadnball future.
The PATHF North region also consists of Canada (represented here by treasurer Brian Hayes) and Greenland (Kurt Lauritsen). Along with Mexico, this is the only group with the resources and interest to challenge the South American hegemony that has existed in the decade of Oliveira's presidency. On Saturday morning, Oliveira and his current Executive Committee were re-elected with near unanimity. Central America and North America selected new Regional Vice Presidents.
The PATHF Executive Committee for 2009-2012 shall be:
President - Manoel Luiz Oliveira (MEX)
Vice President - Miguel Moccia (ARG)
VP, Competitions - Carlos Aldea (CUB)
Secretary General - Rafael Sepulveda (PUR)
Treasurer - Hector Fernandez (CHI)
PATHF Representative to IHF - Mario Garcia de la Torre (MEX)
VP, North - Brian Hayes (CAN)
VP, Central & Caribbean - Jose Duval (DOM)
VP, South - Julio Noveri (URU)
In other business, locations and dates were chosen for 2009 and 2010 competitions. Events of particular relevance to the USA:
- Brazil will host the 3rd Men's Club Championships beginning May 19, 2009 - an event in which the USA will look to field a team for the first time ever.
- Chile will host the 2009 Senior Women's Championship beginning June 23, 2009, if they advance from next week's Division I tournament in Mexico City.
- Brazil will simultaneously host four championships beginning September 8, 2009 (Women: U14, U16 and U18; and Men: U18). The USA plans to field teams in Men's & Women's U18 competition, as this event shall serve as the qualifying event for the 2010 Youth Olympics.
- Chile will host the 2010 Senior Men's Championship beginning June 22, 2010 as part of the country's Bicentennial. Chile and Argentina were both founded in 1810 and aspired to host this competition. The Division I tournament, to qualify the final two clubs, will be held In November 2009 in Puerto Rico.
We have been warmly received and are being looked to for leadership in the hemisphere's handball matters. We have invitations to participate in tournaments, exhibitions and/or tours in Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Barbados, Canada and other locations - the international assumption being, of course, that the USA can afford it.
Dr. Moustafa, originally from Egypt, is here campaigning for re-election as president of IHF. Dr. Roca, the Spanish treasurer of IHF, is the IHF officer with responsibility to oversee PATHF. The USA delegation conducted a lengthy meeting with them on Friday night to outline our plans and needs going forward.