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Date: 7/28/2011


It is not an easy business Simos Lazaridis has to deal with these days. Very dedicated and with many helpers and assistants the President of the Greek Handball Federation organizes the Men’s Junior World Championship in Thessaloniki. And he and his team fulfil this task with remarkable success, although the conditions have been and still are far from easy. The sovereign debt crisis in Greece also shows repercussions on handball. In the interview Simon Lazaridis talks about problems, solutions and effects of the Junior WCh in his home country.


The World Championship is not over yet, but I guess that the Greek Federation and you, as the President of the Federation, will arrive at a positive conclusion. Do you agree?

Lazaridis: Yes, I am totally convinced that this will be the case. Handball was presented perfectly in the last two weeks. We saw several games at world-class level and those four teams competing for the medals really deserve to have come so far. At the WCh we didn’t have any ups and downs and also organization worked quite well. At least this is what we have heard from the President of the International Handball Federation, the players and the fans. We are very proud to have been able to host this WCh.


Will this Junior World Championship have any effects on handball in Greece?

Lazaridis: Yes, that’s for sure and this is a very important question. That was the reason why we wanted to compete with our Juniors with the best teams of the world. We wanted to attract attention, to make the people come and watch the games, and to hype up handball. Unfortunately we have not reached all our aims, but I am convinced that this WCh will leave its marks and will have highly positive effects on our sport. I am sad that our team was not as successful as we had hoped. But, as you may realize, the people here in Greece also come to see the games of the other teams. We have gained a lot of new fans these days.


Generally, handball in Greece has developed very positively in the last ten years.

Lazaridis: You must not forget that handball is still a very new sport in Greece. Our federation was founded in 1975. Since then we have made constant progress and we know that we still have a long way to go. Handball is a very dynamic sport and corresponds well with the Greek mentality. It helps us to express ourselves. Nevertheless we have to compete with the popular team sports such as soccer and basketball. At least we were able to catch up with volleyball and water polo, which once had an enormous advantage regarding significance and popularity. That’s a huge success. And we cannot compete with soccer or basketball, where so much more money is involved.


Did the financial crisis in Greece cause any problems in the planning of the WCh?

Lazaridis: Definitely. A few months ago, in the middle of our planning phase, the General Ministry of Sports slashed our budget drastically. Nevertheless we tried to do our best to organize a great WCh - even with a smaller budget. With a lot of passion, enthusiasm and hospitality we tried to compensate that – I hope we were successful.




Everybody involved confirms that. Nevertheless there was a short time when you considered handing over the organization of the WCh. Why did you finally decide to implement the project despite all difficulties?

Lazaridis: Because we didn’t want to give up. It is true, we really considered handing it over, but on the part of the federation we insisted on keeping the WCh in Thessaloniki. Four months ago we had a meeting with the Minister in charge, with IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa and with delegates of the Greek Handball Federation. We tried to solve the problems together and then decided to do it.


It’s a pity that the Greek team was knocked out in the eight-final, especially after they had been in lead.

Lazaridis: Yes, that was too bad, but, to be honest, we did not expect to come any further than the eight-final. At the moment we don’t have the capabilities to go any further. Our preparation time was limited and therefore we hardly had chances for competitive testing. But the team gave its best and showed great fights. It’s close to reality, because life sometimes is a fight.