We use cookies

By continuing to browse ihf.info, you agree to our terms of use , privacy policy and the use of cookies. For more information, please review our cookie policy.

2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
Join the predictin game


Date: 7/4/2017

While the Faroe Islands may have taken the silverware at the 2nd IHF Men’s Emerging Nations Championship in Bulgaria last month, the IHF tournament aimed to help aid developing handball nations, the third team on court for every game were also developing in the world of handball.


For seven referee couples in Bulgaria, the tournament will stay long in their memory as they all received their IHF refereeing badges as part of the IHF Global Referee Training Programme (GRTP).


Denis Bolic and Christoph Hurich (AUT), Georgi Doychinov and Yulian Goretsov (BUL), Vânia Sá and Marta Sá (POR), Maria Bennani and Safia Bennani (SWE), Youcef Belkhiri and Sidali Hamidi (ALG), Yasmina Elsaied Maher and Heidy Elsaied Maher (EGY), along with Zhou Yunlei and Cheng Yufeng (CHN) can all now proudly call themselves ‘IHF referees’.


“We've been whistling for 10 years now since we started at 17-years-old,” said Safia Bennani, twin sister of Maria from Sweden. “We gained our EHF badge in March 2014 and the feeling to now get the IHF one is amazing.”


For the younger of the Egyptian sister referee couple, Heidy El-Saied, the new qualification means more challenges after they gained their CAHB badge in Togo, in 2014.


“I started to referee when I was 16, around four years ago,” said the 20-year-old, who whistled four games with her 22-year-old sister – Ireland vs Great Britain, Moldova vs Andorra, Kosovo vs Albania and Andorra vs Azerbaijan. “I was happy to get it and we told our mother straight away, but I feel now that I have more responsibility – it is the first step in my career.”


Family were also the first ones contacted by the Bennani’s as they gained the prestigious honour after years of hard work.


“The first ones we told were our family,” said Safia who whistled Albania vs Great Britain, China vs Armenia and Kosovo vs Turkey with her sister. “We just told sent them a picture with our certificates saying, ‘we made it’ in a group messaging chat.


“The whole week was so turbulent with our feelings and it was late at night we got the news – it's still hard to process, even now when some time has passed.


“We will now prepare for the Women’s EHF EURO U19 Championship in Slovenia which starts at the end of July,” she continued.


“Getting the IHF badge really is a life achievement as a referee so to be able to belong in the IHF family is such an honour – very few have done this and we feel privileged.”