The long-awaited return of competitive handball at the continental level becomes a true milestone if we think that the last event was the qualifying for the IHF Senior Men Egypt 2021 World Cup that was played in Maringá, Brazil, in January 2020. Later on, appear the option to perform the repechage for South and Central America with a pandemic in full expansion generated by the violent outbreak of COVID-19 in the continent and the world. Its effects became evident when the qualifiers for the Youth and Junior Women’s World Cups could not be carried out, applying for the first time the concept of ranking to classify. And then came the news of the suspension of the world tournaments of these categories, which finally became the definitive cancellation of these events.
The only major event worldwide, whose planning even had to be adapted to the prevailing circumstances, was the IHF Senior Men’s World Cup Egypt 2021, for which our continent began to run its own race against time to get to know the fourth classified to said tournament that it would come out of the Repechage between South and Central America and that it could not be played because none of the governments of the countries that had to participate allowed the realization of an event of this type.
And then the offer from Uruguay arose, which at that time had ideal conditions and very different from the rest of the continent and was also hosting different international competitions. And the Uruguayan Handball Federation played the role of facilitator so that the repechage could take place, something that will always be appreciated considering that its representative was classified when obtaining third place in the Maringá competition.
The Government of Uruguay, through the Secretariat of Sports, provided all the facilities and the municipality of Florida provided the facilities and all the necessary logistical support to achieve a first-rate event, but COVID-19 had its own roadmap.
Paraguay, one of the participants, ordered the total closure of borders and the suspension of all sports activities, which made it impossible to prepare and attend the event. Then Colombia, another participant, accused infections within his national team that was preparing in a bubble system, which is why the health authorities ordered a total quarantine for the team and a travel ban. And the repechage reached there, winning the pandemic again, leaving only El Salvador and Chile, which made the development of the tournament unfeasible, so it was decided to request the IHF to assign the fourth place to the country with the best ranking, which definitely favored to the Chilean team.
2021 did not receive us very differently. The idea that many of us had that this situation would last only a few months was quickly becoming deeply buried in the past and we began to adjust our projections that we would be in this condition at least until the end of this year.
COVID-19 struck hard and continues to do so. As a consequence, the IHF Beach Handball events and the Youth and Junior World Cups corresponding to 2021 were suspended, events in which if held, the ranking would also have been used to meet the representatives of South and Central America given the impossibility of being able to play the qualifying tournaments corresponding.
And this is not a consequence of not wanting to play, quite the contrary. All the leagues in our continent are amateur, so the costs that would imply developing a permanent competition in a bubble system such as football, basketball or the same handball in Europe cannot be covered. The prohibitions and restrictions on activities and movements of people, the total closure of borders and the prohibition of exit or entry, even of nationals, that have been adopted by the different governments of the continent, the speed of the immunization process are all elements that are shaping a continental situation in which we depend directly on the decisions of the national authorities subject to the sanitary condition of our countries and which to this day do not present a rosy outlook.
Qualifier for the IHF Senior Women’s World Championship Spain 2021.
It is in this context and as it happened with the men’s world championship, in December an IHF Senior Women’s World Championship will be held in Spain. And we have been working with all the National Federations to achieve within the framework of the current health situation of our continent to be able to carry out the qualifying event, which has been postulated by Chile, being accepted as the venue by the COSCABAL Council.
Handball Championship Qualifying Center America
With an eye on the South and Central Senior Women’s Championship qualifying for the World Cup in Spain and making effective the guidelines agreed with the COSCABAL Competition Commission, the need arose to schedule the qualifying event in the Central Zone of the continent and that will grant two places to the countries of the subregion to the South Central Championship.
Nicaragua only applicant for headquarters
The central zone of America presents some openings that would allow the realization of this Central American South Central American Qualifying Handball Championship. Faced with the application to host this event, Nicaragua responded immediately indicating that it had the necessary conditions to hold the tournament and fulfill the desire to resume competition at the continental level, setting as dates for its realization between next July 26 and 31.
Once the venue was known, they immediately expressed their intention to participate, but obviously conditioned to the governmental decisions of each country at the time the competition is held, the National Federations of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama that would join the local Nicaragua, presenting themselves with their best players.
To achieve this event there are already several meetings that have been held with those responsible, but without a doubt one of the most important is the one held by the COSCABAL Medical Commission, headed by its president Dr. Alejandro Orizola, Dr. Matías Salineros who will act as compliance officer on behalf of Coscabal, Dr. Diego Palazuelos for the Nicaraguan Federation of Handball and the local health authority, the president of the Nicaraguan Federation of Handball Javier Jirón and the president of the Competition Commission of COSCABAL Martín Chilaca.
In these meetings, the protocols established as a minimums by the South and Central America Handball Confederation and those ordered by the Nicaraguan health authority have been discussed in detail, in order to establish common minimums aimed at protecting the health of all participants in the event.
This tournament is underway, it has the designated technical control teams, with the summoning of the athletes by the respective National Federations and we only hope that it can be carried out without inconvenience, especially thinking about health aspects and that we can finally score in this fight against COVID-19 in the organization and realization of continental sporting events.