Mannheim, Germany – The 16th IFA Fistball Men’s World Championship took place on 22-29 July 2023, featuring 16 nations from all continents, including Germany, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland, Chile, Argentina, and others. The championship drew a massive crowd, with over 30,000 spectators at the Rhein-Neckar Stadium during the World Championship week and a record audience of over 8,000 spectators on Friday and over 10,000 spectators at the SAP Arena on the final weekend, with Germany securing its fourth consecutive World Championship title, defeating Austria with a clear 4-0 victory in the final.
Among the inspiring athletes, Mateus Kuntzler from the Brazilian national team, whose team won a Bronze Medal at the Championships, made a unique impression on the audience and event. Despite being born with a disability on his left arm, Mateus plays alongside his able-bodied teammates, demonstrating that physical differences need not be barriers to success. Mateus developed a way to play with both arms regardless of his disability, which amazed the crowd, his fellow athletes and peers.
The championship’s special School’s Day event on July 24th was a thrilling experience for 2,700 children and teenagers. The local youth from diverse backgrounds enjoyed a captivating game between Germany and Italy, witnessing the excitement of fistball firsthand. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to participate in interactive sports stations, where they could try Fistball and learned the basics of the sport, as well as other sports and games throughout the venues.
United Through Sports (UTS) was on the ground, actively engaged and ready to support the School’s Day, with President Stephan Fox, CEO Julia Govinden, Project Manager Michael Greiner, and UTS Young Leaders Alesha Piyatida, Sarah Schumacher and Elias Zachariassen, both athletes from the World Minigolf Federation, coming together to inspire, activate and engage the young participants. With the infectious enthusiasm of the team, the students embraced the spirit of unity and inclusion.
IFA President Jörn Verleger said: “It was a great pleasure for us that UTS supported our School’s Day. We are proud partners of UTS since its foundation and thank Stefan, Julia and the whole team for their active cooperation and friendship. Fistball is happy to be part of the great UTS family.”
UTS President Stephan Fox said: “I was once again honoured to be invited to the Fistball World Championships both as UTS and AIMS president to witness the fantastic growth of the sport from the last world championships in Switzerland in 2019, the World Games in 2022 in Birmingham, USA and now in Germany with the record audience in the SAP Arena. I must congratulate President Verleger and his entire team not only for the sporting growth of fistball but also the youth development work. UTS was once again proud to be part of this event.”
UTS CEO Julia Govinden said: “Anyone who has the opportunity to join the fistball family would very quickly become a fan of the sport and organisation. This championships saw thousands of youth come together and enjoy the values, diversity and excitement that the sport of Fistball brings. A special thank you to President Verleger, Honorary President Karl Weiss and IFA Secretary General Christoph Oberlehner.”
As we look forward to a continued partnership with IFA and to contribute to more empowering events where the message remains clear: Together, we can create a more inclusive world through the unifying power of sports.