Faith in Utopia (

Patrick Hüter, who grew up in Neuss, performs along with his brother Ian in the USA Handball World Championships.

Photo: imago/Peter Arvidson

It was a bit crooked, sure, reviews Jan Huether. “There was lots going for it,” the American handball participant mentioned after Thursday night time’s 27-32 loss towards Bahrain. “We may undoubtedly beat this group.” Nevertheless, he loves the ambiance at this World Cup. The complete group is now trying ahead to this Saturday’s recreation towards Denmark and a packed, noisy enviornment in Malmö.

Team USA is coming off a tricky loss towards the reigning champions, and even the Americans realize it. But his temper won’t be damaged, assured the captain. “We needed to develop our sport in the States on the way in which to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles,” says the playmaker. “We achieved that by going into the principle stage.”

The group across the 25-year-old goalkeeper, whose brother Patrick can also be a part of the choice, has actually made sports activities historical past. With a 28-27 preliminary spherical victory over Morocco in Jönköping, the USA group received the World Cup for the primary time since 1964. Then the family in San Francisco cheered, in keeping with the guard. “You noticed it stay on ESPN. Many of our mates thought it was nice to see us at such an occasion, despite the fact that they did not know a lot about handball.

In this fashion, the Guardian will get to the center of handball’s fundamental drawback: the globalization of the game, which continues to be missing. Other nations like Brazil or Bahrain have additionally developed properly not too long ago with the assist of Scandinavian coaches. The Egyptians are already robust sufficient to dream of a medal. But in the world’s most financially highly effective sports activities market, the US, handball is as in style as archery or curling.

To change this, the IHF World Association and main European golf equipment assist the US National Association by coaching expertise with US citizenship, equivalent to Tristan Morawski, who grew up in Landshut, in European membership academies. Morawski, a lone 17-year-old left-hander, needs to be a minimum of the “Michael Jordan of Handball” and has been coached by the German champions a number of instances in Flensburg.

The challenge is logistically managed from Germany. Krefeld’s Andreas Hertelt, who as soon as received the European Cup with TuRu Dusseldorf, is now the group supervisor for the US nationwide group coached by Norway’s Robert Hedin. Former participant advisor Stefan Bogle additionally coordinates scouting in Solingen. While the nationwide group is making an attempt to construct long-term success at house, coaches and scouts are trying throughout Europe for expertise with US citizenship – just like the Guardian brothers, who grew up in Neuschwanstein and performed for Bayer 2nd Division. Dormagen. His mom is from California.

However, a have a look at historical past exhibits simply how thick the plank is to be drilled. Even in the Sixties, German handball gamers and officers tried to place the USA on the world handball map. After 1936, when the court docket model was performed in Berlin, there was an try by the IHF World Association to reintroduce handball to the Olympic program. In Athens in 1961, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted 21:17 towards the inclusion of the 1964 Games. The IHF may even depend on IOC President Avery Brundage (USA) as a supporter of area handball.

The easiest drawback: low distribution. For instance, whereas volleyball is performed in greater than 70 nations, in 1961 the IHF had simply over 30 members. Many members of the IOC didn’t know handball. “A sport that isn’t in style in America has little probability of being included in the Olympic program,” defined an American sports activities author on the time. Therefore, the IHF initiated the creation of the USA Federation and allowed German handball gamers to play in the states: the USA participated in the 1963 World Field Handball Championship in Switzerland for the primary time. At the 1964 World Championships in Czechoslovakia, the USA additionally performed in the indoor championships for the primary time.

The USA goal on the time was Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs, who had beforehand received a championship with THW Kiel, additionally performed for the German nationwide group, and is now pursuing a profession as a supervisor in the US automotive trade. Vincent Drake, a former skilled basketball participant who represented Canada in the 1967 World Cup, additionally obtained into some hassle.

Demonstration video games in the course of the October 1965 IOC session in Madrid have been much more helpful for Olympic ambitions. Two friendlies towards Spain on the time noticed German stars equivalent to Hansi Schmidt and Rüdiger-Felix Schmacke fly in to make the game extra fascinating for IOC members. “The motto of nationwide coach Werner Wieck was that handball needs to be an Olympic sport once more,” Schmakke later recalled. “So he requested us to make the sport as balanced and thrilling as potential, as a result of the IOC members wouldn’t like a giant win.” The gamers have accomplished the duty. In Madrid, handball was nonetheless included in this system of the Munich Games in 1972.

The first president of the American affiliation, Peter Buening, was additionally a German immigrant. The entrepreneur got here up with a daring plan in 1969: While the world’s youth have been protesting the Vietnam War, he went to the Pentagon and proposed an image-boosting challenge to four-star General William Westmoreland: GIs who had succeeded in different sports activities. Go on to turn into a handball participant and compete in the Olympic Games. The identify of this system is “Army Champions”. The commander-in-chief of the Vietnamese armed forces agreed.

Soon the primary castings for Munich occurred. “I did not know what handball was. I performed basketball. What I hear is like water polo,” mentioned Rick Abrahamson, who accomplished his first exams in the autumn of 1969. Soon after, when the colourful choice rebelled towards coach Buening, their responsibility officer threatened to board the subsequent airplane to Vietnam in the event that they continued to refuse observe. “It was a brief match,” USA captain Dennis Berkholtz mentioned later with amusing.

The U.S. males even certified for Munich 1972, the place they defeated up-and-coming Spain and confronted off towards conventional handball nation Denmark for a very long time. Until the house video games in Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996, all makes an attempt to actually popularize handball in the States failed.

The current US challenge to determine handball in the states appears utopian, not solely in this historic context. Regardless, the Guardian brothers dream of hitting the Olympic stage in Los Angeles in 2028. For them, in keeping with captain Jan Hueter, the historic World Cup win towards Morocco was only the start.


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