IFA President Jörn Verleger: IWGA Interview of the Month

IFA President Jörn Verleger: IWGA Interview of the Month

On tour to promote Alabama

Jörn Verleger will be participating in the Competition Managers Meeting for The World Games 2022 on November 29th and 30th in Birmingham, Alabama. Before that, the President of the International Fistball Association (IFA) will go on a promotional tour together with his Secretary General Christoph Oberlehner. What the two IFA officials are promoting, they reveal in the IWGA Interview of the Month.

Mr Verleger, you have already flown to the USA ahead of time. Why?

Jörn Verleger: Originally, my wife and I wanted to visit the USA for a few days before the Competition Managers Meeting on November 29th and 30th in Birmingham. This turned into a promotional tour in cooperation with Alabama Tourism. Christoph Oberlehner, our Secretary General, is also part of our “Come to Birmingham” team. We want to invite Fistball fans to come and see their team in Birmingham at The World Games 2022. We also want to show what you can do in the south of the USA before or after the Games. That makes the trip all the more worthwhile.

How did you come up with the idea?

Jörn Verleger: We have run several promotions with the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau throughout the last 2½ years. It all started with co-operation in 2019 at the IFA World Championships in Switzerland, a TWG qualifier. Together with the Alabama representative for the German speaking market, we developed the idea of offering the combination of sport and vacation to Fistball fans from Europe. Our trip now is to explore some of Alabama‘s highlights at first hand.

Do you expect fans from Europe to come to the Games?

Jörn Verleger: At The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, a lot of Swiss, Germans and Austrians supported their teams. I remember the spectacular final between Germany and Switzerland and the incredible atmosphere in the stands. Not quite so many fans can be expected to travel to the USA. But I know that some Swiss Fistball friends already have plans to come and watch the tournament. There is also a lot of interest among Austrians and Germans as well. I am convinced the combination with a tourist offer will bring more fans to the Games. The cooperation with the Birmingham CVB is a win-win situation for all.

What have been your highlights and best sights this week?

Jörn Verleger: We were first in New York City and met with the national coach of the women's Fistball team, Cory Dahn and US Fistball President Bob Feid. Our idea is for her to introduce Fistball to kids in Birmingham. Our sport can use such expert publicity in the United States. The anticipation of The World Games certainly helps to make people curious about a not so well known sport in the U.S. Afterwards we went to New Orleans and visited the French Quarter and the Garden District, which has the reputation of being the most beautiful neighbourhood in New Orleans. Then on Thanksgiving Day we entered the state of Alabama and went to Mobile, the state’s oldest city, which provides some cool attractions such as the USS Alabama, some beautiful architecture and some lovely restaurants. Later we headed to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach to enjoy two fun-days at Alabama’s white sandy beaches, which is so far the biggest insider tip.

And when will you arrive in Birmingham?

Jörn Verleger: Late Saturday, after a day stop in Montgomery, Alabama’s Capital. That means we have the whole of Sunday to explore Birmingham before the Competition Manager Meeting starts. We have two attractions on our list that day: of course the Birmingham Civil Rights District with the Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church. Since it is a Sunday, we will be able to enjoy the gospel service. And the afternoon is blocked for the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. I have heard it is the largest museum for motorcycles in the world.

How do you tell your community about what you have experienced?

Jörn Verleger: Mainly via our social media channels. We will blog live, which allows our community to follow us in real time. We will also write a kind of travel diary, which we will share together with the pictures and videos we will take on our tour. Furthermore we will record an episode of our podcast “Fistball Inside” on Wednesday with David Galbaugh, Vice President of Sports Sales & Marketing at the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. There, we'll describe all the ways to combine a visit to The World Games Fistball tournament with a Southern trip. And we will tell our followers how to get tickets for the Games.

For more than one year now we have produced the podcast once every two weeks where possible. More than 40 episodes have been published, with more than 2,500 downloads so far.

Where can you watch or listen to it?

Jörn Verleger: The podcast runs on multiple platforms e.g. on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/1XoMCZThdSrfOBuKH6kUmW

What does someone have to do who says to himself, "This is something for me?"

Jörn Verleger: Simply contact us in the Association, and we will then pass on the names and contact details of the appropriate contacts.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.

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