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20.09.2014, 14:26
Making it easier to find, play and participate in handball in Ireland
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INTERVIEW: At the EHF Congress in Dublin, eurohandball.com talked to Fintan Lyons, President of the Irish Olympic Handball Association, who revealed the IOHA’s plans for the next decade to grow the sport in Ireland
 

Making it easier to find, play and participate in handball in Ireland

It has been some busy days in Dublin for the Irish Olympic Handball Association and its president, Fintan Lyons, as more than 100 representatives of the EHF’s member federations gathered in the Irish capital for the EHF Congress.

However, despite all the work involved, Lyons is quick to point out the opportunities for the IOHA to use the congress to increase the reputation of handball in Ireland.

"We can’t go to Europe with all of Ireland, but we can bring all the European federations to Ireland, showing them how big the sport is – that’s how important the congress is for us," Lyons said.

At the congress’ opening on Friday Lyons already laid out his long-term future plans.

"Ireland is famous for many things," he said, quoting - among others - the Guiness beer, American presidents (22 claim to have Irish roots) and software companies (such as Intel or also Google).

"It is the dream of the IOHA that one day handball will be added to this list. And we will work hard to achieve this."

The 55-year-old Lyons, who started playing handball 40 years ago, said building a club structure spanning the entire country is one of the IOHA’s main goals over the coming years.

"We currently have 12 clubs in the entire country, but we could, if we were very lucky, probably add two or three clubs per year, but what we really want to do is not so much add quantity, but build quality," Lyons said.

"We want to make sure we have competitions at every level and if we can, we would like to spread the game geographically.

"It’s a project that will take five to ten years, but we think in that time we will strengthen our competitions at every level.

"It’ll then be easier for people to find handball, play handball and participate in handball in Ireland. And once we start to increase the numbers, then we expect it’ll be an exponential growth."

EHF President Jean Brihault and IOHA President Fintan Lyons signing the ISP agreement between the EHF and the IOHA

At the end of the congress the IOHA signed a three-year agreement with the EHF for the IOHA’s second InfrastructureSupport Programme.

The ISP will see the federation work to enlarge its membership, develop events and also look for additional funding sources to support its activities.

"The ISP is a very important agreement for us. It gives an official stamp of approval to our development plans," said Lyons.

"This is important because it gives us the opportunity to talk to the Irish government, saying that our partners in the EHF are willing to invest and we’d like you to invest some more."


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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