Wiederer: “Staging YAC events this summer was essential”
A year after all Younger Age Category events had to be cancelled, 2021 has been a busy summer for European handball – and Michael Wiederer knows all about it.
The EHF President has visited three tournaments in person in recent weeks.
“The general feedback I have brought from there was very positive, simply for the reason that we carried out these tournaments despite the difficult circumstances,” Wiederer said.
With many countries in lockdown and travel restrictions in place, it was impossible to hold the various under-17 and under-19 national team championships on their initially scheduled dates in 2020.
A year on and still confronted with a challenging situation, the EHF was determined to get Europe’s brightest talents back on the courts this summer.
“Last summer we were forced to call our YAC events off and now we really wanted to give these young players a chance to play,” Wiederer explained.
“This was extremely important especially for smaller or mid-size federations, because in their case they would technically lose one generation of handball players.”
The 2021 summer schedule included the W17, W19 and M19 EHF EURO tournaments, all with the accompanying EHF Championship events, as well as the W17 and M17 Beach Handball EURO.
The M19 EHF EURO in Croatia and the M19 EHF Championships in North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Latvia were added to the calendar after the cancellation of IHF events.
“The idea to fill the void after the cancelled IHF events has paid out tremendously. The players and the teams were really happy and we only received a very positive resonance,” Wiederer said.
There were 11 events in total where the future stars of the sport could shine for their national team.
“The EHF regarded these 11 tournaments as our core and essential mission this summer and we are extremely proud we were able to stage them in cooperation with the local organisers. We really want to thank to all of them, including the organisers of the beach handball youth tournaments,” Wiederer said.
“Organisers in Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Slovenia were ready to take the risk and invest into these events even though the positive outcome was not granted.”
In the end, European handball “experienced arguably the busiest summer in our history,” according to the President, who emphasised the importance of all 11 events.
“They were crucial not only for the young players but also for all our referees and delegates as they could gain a priceless experience,” he said.
However, that all those events this summer went along was not the only factor that pleased Wiederer, who showed his excitement of what he actually saw on the courts.
“Another positive element was the sporting level of the matches at these tournaments. Never before have I witnessed matches of these generations played at such a high-performance level with so much speed, intensity and physical skills,” he said.
“I don’t think it is too daring to predict that the European handball can await incredible talents coming from these tournaments.”