Alexander Toncourt or simply ‘Ali’ to his friends and colleagues joined the staff of the European Handball Federation in 1994 as the federation’s first and only Assistant Secretary General.
His role was many and varied within the federation, taking responsibility for much of the day to day business of the federation, finances and the development of the federation's IT infrastructure.
He began his handball career with WAT Magareten (now Fivers) in Vienna’s fifth district as a line player, helping them to earn promotion to the Austrian first division in 1982 and to the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1984 against Baia Mare.
In 1987 became the first professional manager of a handball club in Austria, before becoming Secretary General of the Austrian Handball Federation, where he received many plaudits for the highly successful organisation of the World Championship in Austria in 1992. From 2000 to 2008 he was also a member of the International Handball Federation’s Organisation and Competition’s Commission.
Ali passed away in Vienna on 1 May 2012 following a long and brave battle with illness. He was 52 years old.
In this eulogy read at his funeral service on 14 May 2012 and published in the EHF Activity Report in 2012, the EHF Secretary General, Michael Wiederer paid tribute to his long-time friend and colleague:
It is only those that had a personal relationship to Ali, even Ali would admit that he devoted 35 years to handball – as a player, in his job implicit and explicit in every subject matter. Therefore I direct these words to him.
Ali, you were always the one who wanted to be there and who always contributed joyfully and with plenty of stamina, even though you did not like being in the limelight. You played with us: handball, football, cards: basically any activity that needed a team. You worked with us, for me and you were able to combine your interest with your skills consistently and correctly. Actually, you got everything done in the same way that you played handball – hard in the defence, swift in the attack and following victories, you came to the party!
You were very good at determining between what was possible and what would work; I knew as I often stepped lightly into your office to hear your consequently feedback in order to assist me draw my own conclusions. Through your attitude and dedication, you contributed to its success whether it be a club, a federation and especially to the development of the EHF.
Perhaps we failed to tell you often enough how much we appreciate this. Though it is too late, we still see today just how much you meant to everybody.
Next to your work, it also needs to be said that in our opinion, in life, you made it possible to only do the things that you enjoyed doing….and the things you did not want to do, more consistently than others, you managed to ignore.
Your was of dealing with your illness – to fight it but also to ignore it, was exemplary. This meant a long, hard fight; but also as in ‘every match’, there were beautiful moments.
Dear Ali, it is so easy to say ‘unforgettable’, on behalf of all those with whom you played and with whom you worked, and lived with, I can guarantee that we will not forget you.
You will be present at our matches.