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Date: 11/7/2015

On November 7 the IHF Congress voted in favour of granting full membership to seven federations, and so there are now 204 IHF member federations from five continents. The IHF Congress welcomed the new members: Kosovo, Nauru, Tonga, South Sudan, American Samoa, Palau and Equatorial Guinea with a procession of flags and certificates presented by IHF President Doctor Hassan Moustafa. 

Representatives of all nations apart from Palau and Equatorial Guinea were in attendance at the Congress. 

Full membership represents a significant step toward the development of handball in these nations and continents. President of the Tonga Handball Federation Siosifa Takitoa Taumoepeau, says the membership brings opportunity and exciting new challenges. 

“We are here in Sochi and we are a member of the family of international handball. Not only is it a privilege, it is also an opportunity.”

Like many countries in the Oceania region, handball is lesser-known and the federation must work hard to compete with other sports. 

“Handball was introduced to Tonga back in the 60s or 70s by the late king Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, but in a country so small we follow English sports. I think the sport never took off because not only are we small, but mostly we follow either rugby or netball – now they [young athletes] have a choice. Most have never seen handball. I think this is going to be a very exciting time,” says Taumoepeau. 

All the new member federations can now look forward to taking the next step to continue developing handball in their nation. 

“I think one of the first things when I go back is to slowly work our way through not only the community but also linking up with a few schools. I believe we have to do not only grassroots [development], but also in schools. 

“It’s good to have a starting point, where you slowly work your way up,” concludes Taumoepeau. 

Prior to the membership vote the IHF Congress voted on member suspensions according to item 7.47 of the IHF Regulations and Statutes. Suspensions include the full exclusion from all handball activities of Former Vice-President of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Handball Federation, Mr Stanislav Mucic, who physically assaulted the director of the Bosnian National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO), Mr Branko Markic, the exclusion of the Kuwait Handball Federation after the organisation failed to convene a General Assembly to legitimise the federation for eight years, and the exclusion of Mr Abu Marzouk, Former President of the Kuwait Handball Association and Former IHF Council member.