Today, 1 years ago, the International Fistball Association (IFA) Board of Directors was elected at the IFA 2019 Congress within the framework Fistball Men´s World Championships in Winterthur (SUI). Jörn Verleger from Munich, Germany was elected the sixth president in the history of IFA. The 48-year-old succeeds Karl Weiss (Austria). Karl Weiss did not run for re-election after serving eight years as president of the Association during which IFA developed from 27 member nations to 61 national associations. Together with Secretary General elected Christoph Oberlehner from Austria Verleger is giving an Interim Report as video and podcast message.
Mr. Verleger, Mr Oberlehner, which contributions were the most successful last year?
First of all we are very proud of the Fistball Academy which we established three years ago. The Fistball Academy is really one of our projects with a lot of passion, and especially with the help of Uwe Schneider, we were able to publish the first training modules to support smaller and new federations. Additionally we were able to develop from a federation to a service provider. We offer many services for our members and for our hosts. Even for this year we had very great plans, but the global Covid-19 pandemic changed a lot, and we were forced to postpone all our events to 2021. But also, that postponement gave us a big chance to rethink and improve our internal procedures, and that was also one of our big topics within the last month I would say.
What highlight did really stand out to you?
The absolute highlight for us has been the World Championships in Winterthur. Of course, World Championships are always special, but Winterthur enthused us all chiefly with its media coverage. For example, we had 260 published articles in total, a number we never had before. Furthermore, we reached a total of 382.9 million people, which is incredible in our opinion. We couldn´t really believe this number if it wasn´t analyzed by a professional agency, but yeah, it happened. In general, it was amazing to be part of such a big event with more than 30.000 spectators in the stadiums and we think it was one of the major highlights in our work for the Fistball family. And to make some promo, if you like to re-watch some of the games, you can go on www.fistball.tv and enjoy the games, or the one you liked the most for a second time.
Which changes did you affect in Fistball?
We think it`s a little bit too early to say that. We are elected for four years and we have to see what the following three years will bring. But as we mentioned before, we have already established some new projects. And not only on the Fistball pitch, we also employed us with topics like sustainability and gender equality. To go back on the Fistball pitch, we also have to mention the Fistball World Tour with it´s final in Salzburg. A very nice event we established step by step and we sadly had to cancel for this year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Also the increasing professionalization of our small events, which are getting more media coverage is beside the number of already 65 member federations, and an increasing number of women in our sport, a point which shows us, that we are on the right way
What are you plan to accomplish over the coming year?
We can promise you the following year will be a very challenging, but also a very great year for the Fistball Family. We will have many events because we had to cancel most of our tournaments this year and postpone them to 2021. In 2021 we will start with the Women World Championship in July, which we had to remove from Chile, back to Europe. Let us cross our fingers that the Covid-19 pandemic will be under better circumstances next year, also because 10 to 14 days after the women world championships we will have the U-18 World Championships in Grieskirchen (Austria). Furthermore, the World Tour Final should take place in 2021 again. A very big challenge will be the overlapping with the many other events of all the other sports in the world.
One year ago several changes within the IFA Board and IFA Commissions were made. How satisfied are you with the collaboration within the team?
We are very satisfied. We integrated more people into the Board of Directors, and more people can represent our sport worldwide in a better way. For example, Vicky Buston in the Oceania world, and Giana Hexsel in South America. All those people are working together in friendship an supporting our work in the whole world to get more people to play Fistball.
We are very proud of our team and can say, that without the work of those people such a positive development of Fistball would not have been possible.
To continue our work successfully we are still looking for motivated people to join our team in one of our many commissions, like the youth commission. For example, next year we will appoint a Under 18 representative who supports the work of the commissions.
You can see there is plenty of work to do and we are looking for your help.
What accomplishments this year are you most proud working on most of?
Most of all it was this feeling of friendship and support while working for the Fistball Family. You can really feel that the peoples want to work together and want to implement their ideas. Even when the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to postpone all the events to next year, there was such a positive spirit in the work with our federations all over the world, and that is great to see. In conclusion, all that remains for us to say is, that we are looking forward to the next three years of positive cooperation with the members of the Fistball Family.
Furthermore, the Vice Presidents elected Giana Hexsel (Brazil), Vikki Buston (New Zealand) and Steve Schmutzler (Germany) commented on the year as following:
“It’s been an interesting year for sport and Fistball and we’ve had to adapt so many changes due to the pandemic. I look forward to the tournaments coming up and can’t wait to get together with our international Fistball family when we are able to get the chance again.”
Vikki Buston (New Zealand)
“As a Doctor, I regret about the Pandemic, but I think we must be patient. Good times will come back, for sure. One year has passed since we took office and I could say I believe we tried to keep our group motivated for better times, trying to organize all the tournaments in another dates and places. I can say from the heart: We are missing the best part: GREAT FISTBALL GAMES❤️”
Dr. Giana Hexsel (Brazil)
“Looking back on the first year of our collaboration, the focus is naturally shifting to the second half of the term, which was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the Board of Directors, we had to take a number of difficult decisions and unusual measures. For all of us, the completely new situation was and is a great challenge. But I think we were able to do a good job and look back on a constructive cooperation even under difficult conditions. I think we can look positively into the future and hope that the good cooperation can be continued under “normal” conditions.”
Steve Schmutzler (Germany).