Question and Answer Session With Our New Development Officer

In December 2015 following a intensive search the Irish Olympic Handball Association was delighted to appoint Joáo Ferreira as the associations new Development Officer. The appointment is part funded by the Infrastructure Support Program (ISP) which the IOHA signed with the European Handball Federation.

Now 2 months into the job we thought it was a good idea to catch up with Joáo and for the sake of our members find out a little bit more about him and his handball experience.

1. Hi Joáo, firstly welcome to the IOHA, tell us about yourself e.g. how long have you been in Ireland and what were you working at before the IOHA?
I am a Portuguese citizen, born in São Paio de Oleiros, a village in Portugal. I arrived at Dublin in September 2014.
I have a degree in Sports science and a Masters degree in Physical Education.
Initially in Ireland, I started working in Supermac’s after 2 weeks of my arrival because, after all, bills need to be paid. After that I worked as a massage therapist in a chiropractic clinic, where I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge as massage therapist, work that I developed before, in Portugal, with the Portuguese Volleyball National Team in a few events, the major one, the beach volleyball world championship.
After that I worked for Olympian Gymnastic Club, a company that allowed me to work with children in different schools around Dublin. I started as a coach and I made my way up till I became school manager after 1 year of collaboration with them, where I was responsible for developing school programs, coaching new staff and liaising with schools.
After that, here I am, embracing a new challenge with IOHA.

2. As well as being a handball coach you also played the game, what age were you when you first picked up a handball and with which club?
I was very young. I started on CDC São Paio de Oleiros club at age of 4 and I kept going till senior age. Handball, for me, started as kind of a family tradition (my father played for many years) but soon it became a passion to which I applied myself from a young age.
As a senior player I represented also FC Gaia for a year. After this, my fullest attention was required for my Master’s degree and therefore I played only for leisure.

3. Does Portugal have a strong tradition or history of handball?
We can say so. In Portugal Handball is the 2nd sport with more practitioners (football being the first) and because of that we can see that in every club there are all group ages (4/5 years old till Senior level) playing in regional and national competitions all year. We have the infrastructures, the manpower and the will to grow and go bigger.
History wise, I don’t have much to say. We hosted the Men’s European Championship in 1994 and we fight for our qualifications to Europeans championships.
We have good teams like FC Porto, SL Benfica, ABC Braga – all of them associated to their football clubs and therefore they manage to achieve club international competitions. FC Porto was this season in the Champions league group stage and doing very well.
4. You’ve been working with the IOHA for 2 months now, what are your impressions of the handball community in Ireland?
From my short time with IOHA I can see that even though Handball is not a very well-known sport, there seems to be some interest and as I have been discovering, more people practicing than I anticipated. I think the main problem with this is that it is played informally or in clubs/schools/colleges without any connection with IOHA. I think it is important to create a network between all the parties (clubs, schools, coaches, players, etc.) and that such network is managed by the IOHA.

5. Handball has been described as a sport that the Irish could excel at giving our Gaelic Football and Rugby traditions, do you agree?

I think that Ireland has great potential.
If we are talking about the physical aspect of the sport, that’s something that protrude to the eye – Irish are tall and strong – and for obvious reasons, that’s something needed for a game with high level of physical contact, and with that, we are well served.
If we are talking about the technical aspects of the game, I would say that Gaelic Football and Rugby have big similarities. All of them are played also with the hands, with high level of impact – GAA and Rugby even more, in my opinion, and since handball rules are getting even more restrictive to protect the players. Although, I think handball is more dynamic, faster and enthusiastic game because of the constant fast breaks, goals and high score matches.

Thanks Joáo and best of luck in your new role with the IOHA.

Joao Ferreira, IOHA Development Officer.

Joao Ferreira, IOHA Development Officer.