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WOMEN ON TOP
Rising to the challenge:
Handball’s outstanding female leaders
Of the 204 Member Federations of the International Handball Federation, a small but growing percentage
have a female President at the helm.
Africa boasts the highest concentration of
female leaders, with four of the 10 women
serving as President of their federation hailing
from the oldest continent: Gabon’s Dr Nicole
Assele, Nigeria’s Oumou Traoré, Sheila
Agonzibwa Richardson from Uganda, and
South Africa’s Ruth Saunders.
Oceania is next with three female Presidents
– Haiti’s Carline Choute, Cook Islands’
Makiroa Mitchell-John and Micronesia’s
Liliana Gootinag, before Europe with two
– Bulgaria’s Rositsa Bakordzhieva-Koeva
and Liechtenstein’s Uschi Bodenmann, and
Pan America with one – Raquel Pedercini of
Canada. The nations and regions most heavily
represented by women are some that may be
considered developing, as all of the ten nations
have yet to qualify for the flagship IHF event
– the World Championship. The Presidents of
these federations therefore face challenging
situations in the quest to develop handball
in their nations, with a range of current
focuses and projects including improving
school activities and competitions, increasing
resources for teachers and coaches, and
refining relevant programmes to best suit each
The challenge of guiding a developing
federation The journey through development is a long
and arduous one, but it is clear these women
are not afraid of a challenge as they face
obstacles on a daily basis – in their work
Carline Choute (HAI, right) and Uschi Bodenmann (LIE) next to their colleague from American Samoa,
Carl J. Floor.
with their respective national federations and
in managing their contribution to handball
alongside many other responsibilities.
Several of these Presidents work a full-time
job, though for some there is an intersection
between their passion for handball and their
obligations. Saunders for example, is Sports
Development Officer at Cape Peninsula
University of Technology in Cape Town, which
involves some work with increasing interest in
handball at the university.
Considering such a range of responsibilities
it seems clear these women are masters of
multitasking, and are able to creatively devise
Bulgaria’s President Rositsa Bakordzhieva in the middle of delegates and
friends at the IHF Congress in Sochi.
48 WHM (1-2016(
methods for making the most of the situation
for handball in their nation.
“We are in the third year of the IHF four-year
plan, which is making huge strides and a big
difference in handball in our country. We are
looking forward to working with the IHF Experts
during this year and also looking forward
to partnering with the German Handball
Federation [BoraBola project],” says Saunders
of the SAHF current focuses.
Lack of funding from governmental and sports
associations is a common concern in these
nations, which Canada’s Raquel Pedercini
says renders it vital to work in successful
The only female President from Pan America: Raquel Pedorcini (CAN)
talking shop with her colleague Eduardo Spangenberg (URU)