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21.06.2012, 23:02
Tor Lian: 20 successful years
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Outgoing EHF President, Tor Lian, talks to eurohandball.com about handball, his career and offers some advice to his successor
 

Tor Lian: 20 successful years

One of the founding fathers of the European Handball Federation back in 1991, the Norwegian, Tor Lian, has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the development of handball in Europe.

He joined the EHF Executive in 1991, became Vice President in 2000 and President of the federation in 2004. He announced his decision not to candidate for a further period of office in January 2012 during the EHF EURO in Serbia.

Talking ahead of the start of the 11th EHF Congress, which will see the election for his successor, a position for which there is just one candidate, the current Vice President, Jean Brihault, he spoke about his reasons for deciding not to stand again.

“I addressed my departure early,” he said. “In this way it wasn’t such a great shock for people. I want to leave on good terms and also to give the new president a chance to begin building his new team.

“After a 20 year career in handball and also very demanding jobs in business, I felt that my Vice President, Jean, should have the chance to be president. We have been a very strong team, but now I am looking forward to spending much more time with my family and with my six grandchildren.”

Successful on and off court

Lian has enjoyed a highly successful career both within handball and also ‘off-court’ in international business, where he worked as a headhunter for Ernst & Young, Capgemini and latterly for A.T. Kearney Executive Search.

A player in his early years and then a coach, Lian went on to become President of the Norwegian Handball Federation from 1985 to 1996. He was also Vice President of the Norwegian Olympic Committee from 1990 to 1996 and Vice President of the Organising Committee of the 2004 Olympic Games in Lillehammer.

He is rightly proud of the many achievements of the EHF in the 20 years he has played a leading role in the EHF.

“Looking back, what we have achieved really is fantastic,” he said talking to eurohandball.com before his start of his final EHF Executive meeting.

“We have initiated a lot of projects, starting with the setting up of the EHF Office. I have been very impressed with the work of the EHF staff and with their attitude both to the job and to the development of handball.

"This is part of the culture of the EHF, we have been happy to meet challenges and I think we have had the right combination of skills of both professional staff and officials.”

Lian is keen to draw comparisons with other sports. “I strongly believe that we are ahead of many other international sports organisations, when we look at the way we work and the technology we use. We not only have the best people on the court, but also off it,” he said.

‘Monte Carlo of handball’

Talking about the federation’s achievements, Lian highlights the successful development of the EHF EURO as something that he is particularly proud of.

“The EURO has become a very strong competition for Europe’s national teams,” he said. “I am very proud of it, the way we organise the event, the number of teams and the set-up. This is something we have got right.

“Just recently we have had to deal with the withdrawal of the Netherlands from the women’s event in December, but the fact that 11 nations put themselves forward at short notice to take on the organisation of the event, shows just how attractive the EURO has become.”

The development of club handball is also an area of the EHF President sees as positive.

“We have a very good working relationship with our clubs, and very positive support. I have to say that my experience of sitting on the Professional Handball Board has been a very good one.

“For me too the establishment of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 has been a particular highlight. This event really is the ‘Monte Carlo’ of the handball world. It is an event everybody both inside and outside the sport is talking about. We have done everything right and we have some very good partners.”

People at the heart of the success

Tor Lian remembers a lot of dedicated people, who have contributed to the success of handball and his own career.

“For me, on the side of the executive, I have to point out Stefan Holmqvist in particular, my predecessor as EHF President. He was a inspirational and motivational leader. I was extremely upset when died suddenly, his life was handball and he was one of my best friends.”

“Michael Wiederer too should be mentioned. I hired him when we first founded the EHF, and we have become good friends. I am very proud – and Michael can be too – of the way the federation has developed. He sees new areas and possibilities and is good with people. The EHF office has become a centre for the development, promotion and management of the sport.”

Advice for the next president

Following his decision not to stand for a further four years, Tor Lian, recommended that his Vice President, Jean Brihault, should stand as his replacement.

“He is a clever and experienced man,” said Lian. “The very first time we met I told him that he should become a member of the EHF board. With his background and enthusiasm for sports as well as his experience as well as grasp of language skills, he is more than qualified for the job.”

And what of his advice for a new president?

“I think it is important to listen to people, to listen to all the stakeholders and to our professional staff. A good leader should show that he is open to anybody, who has something to say."

Lian continued: “For me it is important to treat people well, be a decent guy, behave well and treat people just as you would like to be treated yourself.”

After 20 years of work, and a busy schedule, which has seen the president travelling across the world, often up to 10 to 12 days per month, Tor Lian is clear about what he will miss.

“The people,” he said simply. “I will miss working directly with the people in our sport, from the clubs, the federations and within the EHF itself. We really do have a fantastic group of people, the human side of the sport is marvelous.”


TEXT: EHF
 
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