As 2018 has just commenced, we are all realising that we are facing an exciting year ahead, with many competitions around the globe.
On all continents, continental championships will be held. Americas is first, with the IKF Pan-American Korfball Championship to be held in Cali, Colombia. Six teams teams will compete for the title, with for the first time ever two spots available for the IKF World Korfball Championship in 2019. Merely a month later, Harare (Zimbabwe) will be the host of the All African Korfball Championship. Also there, for the first time ever, and due to the IKF World Korfball Championship 2019 being held on the African continent for the first time (Durban, South Africa), two spots will be available. So, apart from host South Africa, a second African country will be able to qualify for the World Championship. Later in the year, the Asians and Oceanians will have their quadrennial joint championship in Tokyo-Saitama (Japan) and the Europeans will see their long qualification series (which already started last year) completed in the Netherlands, where sixteen European teams will compete for their continental title.
For many countries, taking part in the continental championship is their main target, and a great way to focus development efforts. Especially for those countries ranked between 30 and 50 on our world ranking, taking part in the continental championship is the pinnacle of their performance. I am happy to see so many countries taking part in this quadrennial cycle, where we are likely to break again the record of the number of participating countries. This is important for us as worldwide korfball community to demonstrate our growth by hard numbers. It is however also important to help grow the performance culture in all of our member organisations. While grassroots participation is always and should remain the primary objective of any national organisation, it is critical for each national organisation to also develop a strong performance pillar, which includes a national league and championship at different age groups levels, and includes international participation.
To further stimulate this international participation, this year we see the first-ever official IKF U19 Championship. While World Cups have been held for two decades in this age group, I am very excited to now see an official biannual U19 World Championship emerge. Before too long, we hope to be able to also convert the U17 World Cups every two years to a World Championship.
With all this ahead, I realise that many of our volunteers are devoting a lot of effort and creativity to making this happen, both financially and organisationally. It is to them that I wish to dedicate my New Year’s Message this year: lots of success with all or your endeavours, which I hope you will complete in good health and with great joy.
Dr Jan C. Fransoo
International Korfball Federation