Yesterday, the IBSA announced that Kari Räsänen of Finland had been named the new Chairman of IBSA Goalball effective the first of the year. Räsänen’s first task will be implementing the IBSA Goalball Committee’s Strategic Plan. Much of this involves trying to expand and improve participation and quality of the sport around the world. He also has two major sporting events upcoming on the calendar to prepare for: 2015 IBSA World Games in Seoul in May, and the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio. Räsänen has already been to Brazil, where he has talked to local organizers and viewed progress on the venue.
Coming from the Finnish Goalball Committee, Räsänen has been very involved on the international and domestic side of both goalball and blind sport in general. He previously served as the Sports Director for IBSA Goalball, and serves on the Rules and Competition Committee of the Finnish Association for Disability Sports (Finnish: Suomen Vammaisurheilu). At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, he served as the Goalball Technical Delegate.
Räsänen replaced Kari Marklund of Sweden, who announced his plans to retire in August. Marklund appeared on the international goalball scene in late 2011 following major drama within the IBSA Goalball program that pissed off a lot of players and saw the original committee leave to form their own independent goalball organization. From 2003 to 2011, he was involved with the Svenska Handikappidrottsförbundet and Sveriges Paralympiska Kommitté (SPK) as the organizations’s chairperson. Before starting his work with those organization, he was familiar with table tennis, hockey, football, basketball and equestrian. Inside both organizations, he worked to improve communications with members, and to assist people in developing the best individually. He tried to insure that athletes with disabilities were considered alongside their able-bodied peers in terms of access, media attention and sponsorship opportunities. He also tried to improve relationships with the government, and increase Nordic Paralympic sporting ties.