We must not settle for "just ok" tournaments

Juha Halme is the Competition Manager of the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships. He has a wide experience on international goalball duties from organizing tournaments to different official and referee positions.

“You can compare organizing tournaments to trying to solve a puzzle. At times some of the pieces are missing or it seems that there are pieces from various puzzles mixed up, but still you have to put something together. Even though we have knowledge and experience to organize a good goalball tournament in Finland, we can’t afford to settle for that. We need to always put thought on how to do things even better next time. It is a well-known fact that disability sports is still considered as marginal. Because of that we need to organize these tournaments with limited resources and with the help of volunteer workers. It means we need to focus on doing the right things. For my surprise, I have noticed that many of the methods used in the corporate world can be used almost straight in organizing goalball tournaments. You can think that the tournament is like a project: you give roles and responsibilities to your people and think how to shape the processes as effective as possible and so on. As a result you get a well-functioning tournament.

It isn’t that easy, though. Organizers need to think everything through teams’ perspective. A solution that seems legit for organizers, might be unbearable for the teams. For example, offering dinner at the playing venue. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, I have witnessed both options. Other factors that are important for the teams are schedule, transportation and accommodation. I must say there have been quite a lot to improve on these things in the international goalball tournaments lately. But at the moment the schedule of the European Championships is on a level that we could conceptualize it for the future tournaments. And Pajulahti Sports Institute is a place where those three other possible problems – meals, transportation and accommodation – are already in order, so I can be pretty confident ahead of the tournament. Of course we are going to face some unexpected problems and surprises but we have the tools to fix those.

The overall quality of the international goalball tournaments have improved in recent years, and that is how it has to be, really. Players are training systematically, put lot of money and time for this, so it is a must that these tournaments have to be good enough. Players need to have possibility to get enough sleep, proper food and time to recover. So when the ref blows a whistle, the coaches can expect 110 percent performance from their players."

There will be total of 22 blog texts published in the Pajulahti 2017 blog, one text every week until the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships on 18–22 of September. Each week there will be a different writer. New blog text will be published every Wednesday.