04/17/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/18/2019 04:54
IHF.info caught up with Kosovo Handball Federation (KHF) President Eugen Saraçini following the successful completion of the 2018-19 IHF Men's Trophy Intercontinental Phase championship for both youth (U19) and junior (U21) teams, held in Pristina, Kosovo.
It was an historic occasion for Kosovo as, following the bronze medal for the under 19 team, the under 21 team made history, winning the championship and grabbing the final spot for the 2019 IHF Men's Junior World Championship, which will be held in Spain this July.
The qualification means the first-ever time that Kosovo have booked a world championship spot in a team sport at any level, male or female.
IHF.info: The championship has now finished, from an organisational side, how has it been for you?
Eugen Saraçini: From all the information I have gathered in my talks with guests, team leaders and players as well as the information from the Kosovo Handball Federation, they have all said to us that our organisation has been good, and all necessary needs were taken care of with this kind and type of championship. We are very happy to hear this from our guests that they are satisfied.
IHF.info: Why important to have these type of competitions in Kosovo? What positives do they bring?
Eugen Saraçini: Handball in Kosovo was founded over 65 years ago, but it's very important for us to have another impact, another injection of interest in our sport and one way to do this is to organise international level events. The young people now have the opportunity to play sports with their colleagues from other countries from all over the world and this is very, very important [for our continued handball development].
IHF.info: This was an intercontinental championship with teams from across the world, how does it feel to welcome the world to Pristina with all the different cultures on display?
Eugen Saraçini: The KHF organised the first IHF Emerging Nations Championship, back in 2015, and then we organised the European zone of the 2018-19 IHF Men's Trophy back in October.
We then got the opportunity to also organise this one and it is very, very important that we are successful in this, meeting all the criteria and making sure everybody is happy.
But who is the happiest? That's easy - all the handball fans here, no matter which countries are coming.
IHF.info: Events like this take a lot of effort to organise, tell us about the support you have received - from sponsors, government, federations?
Eugen Saraçini: Absolutely you cannot have an event without them. It is very important because without them you cannot achieve the goals to organise such a type of event in a good manner.
I have to say, first of all there is the IHF. They supported our federation with all possible material needs, then financially they supported all the teams; paying all of their expenses for coming - all the tickets, airplane tickets, hotels etc.
Of course, from the other side we had some other expenses, but our government and some sponsors gave us funding as well as other support and help too.
IHF.info: A word on the people working for the Kosovan Handball Federation and the volunteers?
Eugen Saraçini: Absolutely. Volunteers are very, very important in such an organisation as without them you cannot do anything. The people here in Kosovo love handball and that's why we gathered a lot of volunteers which helped us to achieve this success.
IHF.info: When you look back at the tournament is there one personal memory you have that stands out?
Eugen Saraçini: Such events give everybody an opportunity to be part of the organisation whether they are a volunteer, organiser, play, official or coach.
These events are very important as everyone becomes friends with somebody, they get to know somebody and then talk about the future and eventual cooperation.
For example, the Kosovo Handball Federation received an invitation from Chinese Taipei for beach handball in November, so we will consider it and see if it is possible.
We are had contact with the United States of America which is a good opportunity for them and for us to come together again either here in Kosovo or in the USA.
So, the young generation come together through sport, through handball, and this is fantastic and one of the most important points.
IHF.info: The last week has been important for Kosovan men's handball - firstly your two younger age teams took medals and then your men's senior team beat Israel in Pristina in the EHF EURO 2020 qualifiers. The future is looking strong for men's handball in your country.
Eugen Saraçini: Absolutely, it was a very big week. I think that this kind of success will give us more impetus for the teams to work harder and to achieve much better results.
Of course, there will be, again, challenges in the EURO 2020 qualification period and in the IHF Junior World Championship, but we will arrange more friendly and unofficial matches which will give these teams the possibility to become more experienced and to see what kind of handball is played around them, Europe and the world.
This is very important - when I was younger I was able to travel and meet young people my age and these guys here in Kosovo now have that opportunity through sport and through this championship.
IHF.info: What's next for Kosovan handball?
Eugen Saraçini: We will start preparing for the IHF Junior World Championship but have other duties too. We have some seminars for coaches, referees and continue to develop women's handball which is very important.
Photo: Shpend Ahmeti/Kosovo Handball Federation