Jean Brihault has been one of the dominating political figures in the EHF in the 21st century. In 2000 he was elected into the Executive Committee. In 2004 he became vice president and eventually, eight years later in 2012, the EHF President when he succeeded Tor Lian.
Another four years later his presidency will come to an end as the age limit prevents the 69-year-old to run for another four-year term.
However, positiveness prevails when he looks back as eurohandball.com spoke to Brihault on the eve of the EHF Congress 2016 in St. Wolfgang.
“It has been a wonderful experience with some successes and some disappointments, but mostly I think we have achieved more successes in a spirit of continuity,” Brihault said.
“One highlight for me has been the development of our major competitions which are really now major events in indoor sport in Europe and even in the world. The second is the quality of the dialogue with the stakeholders. We started from a potential conflict and see where we are now, trying to build everything together.”
This attitude was also reflected in his wishes for the EHF as the federation's 25-year-anniversary will be celebrated on Friday (18 November).
“The best wishes I can have for the EHF is to have another 25 years as successful as the past 25 which would mean that after 50 years the EHF would really be on top.”
The EHF Congress in St. Wolfgang will elect a new president on Thursday (17 November) with current Secretary General Michael Wiederer being the only candidate.
Brihault's answer when asked what he would like to say to the new president was as brief as it was concise: “That he may find as good a Secretary General as I had the luck to work with.”
Of plastic bottles, jumpers and picnic blankets
When he started his presidency in 2012, Brihault had defined the further development of women's handball as one of the key issues to address.
Four years later that saw, among other things, the formation of the Women's Handball Board as well as the introduction of the Women's EHF FINAL4 as the showpiece finale of the Women's EHF Champions League, Brihault acknowledges that progress has been made, but the end of the road has not been reached.
“If I look at the road that we still have to cover, it's long, I was disappointed at the last congress that a favourable motion (regarding gender equality) did not go through. So there is still a fair way to go,” Brihault said.
While there will be arguably fewer handball related appointments in Brihault's calendar, the Frenchman said that he is far away from retiring, but he also said that a new function might not necessarily be in handball, specifying a comment he had recently made to the French Handball Federation when he said, “Je suis recyclable” (I'm recyclable).”
“When you recycle plastic bottles, you can make jumpers or picnic blankets out of them. This is the spirit in which I meant this. I have experience, I'm still capable physically and intellectually, so I'm usable. But I'm not specifically thinking about handball.”