With the opening ceremony of the World Games last night, the second largest event in the Olympic Movement has reached Latin America. In his opening address, Colombian Vice-President Garzon mentioned that Latin America needs to regain its position on the international sporting stage, having lost a lot over the pas several decades. while this may be true on the field, off the field the citizen of Cali – the Caleños – have embraced and welcomed the 45000 athletes and many of their guests and fans with great enthusiasm. On our way to the stadium last night, literally every single face of the hundreds of thousands of people in the street was lined with a smile. not just a smile of happiness, which the event brings to a city in transformation, but also an enormous smile of pride that Colombia and Cali have made the bold move of bidding for and winning the right to host these World Games.
Of course, preparations have been characterized by many stereotypic Latin characteristics, and even while the Games have now started, many challenges remaikn on the organizational and facilities side, in lign with similar experiences of the IOC in Brazil and the Commonwealth Games in India a few years ago. Organizing an event in Cali has turned out to be a daunting task for many of the International Federations that are the acting partners of the World Games.
For korfball, in any case, the event has been a challenge due to the fact that we do not yet have a local federation of any particular strength. yet the Games seems to have brought the energy to get this going, and make Colombia our third strong foothold in Latin America, with Brazil and Argentina. I do hope that soon at one of the major korfball events we will be able to witness the very same Latin smiles, as our sport has all characteristics to be as successful on this continent as it has been in Asia over the past decade.
Jan Fransoo, IKF President