From July 22nd to July 29th, 16 national fistball teams will gather in Mannheim, Germany, for the 16th edition of the International Fistball Association’s Men’s World Championships. Hosts Germany, winners of last summer's World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, look to continue their dominance on home turf, having won gold in 12 of the 16 World Championships. The Group Stage and Qualifying Round matches will take place at Rhein-Neckar Stadium, with two grandstands that can hold a capacity of 7,000 spectators. On Thursday, July 27th, through the Finals on Saturday, July 29th, the action moves to the much larger SAP Arena, which can house over 22,000 fans.
The United States comes into the World Championships off a 3rd place finish in last October's Pan-American Games, which included an upset victory over Argentina. This will be the third international event for the Americans in the past year, after an 8th place finish in Birmingham, Alabama, at the 2022 World Games. With recent international tournament experience and a strong returning core, the United States aims to improve from their 10th place finish in their last World Championship appearance in 2019.
Rodrigo Salas (Dallas, TX), assistant coach at last summer’s World Games, will move into the role of head coach, replacing Theo Theodorakoglu (Birmingham, AL), who will stay with the team in the position of Delegation Leader. Assisting Salas will be former Women’s National Team head coach, Denis Nicoladeli (Curitiba, Brazil). The staff has assembled a team that returns 8 of the 10 athletes from last summer’s World Games.
The Americans are strong at the striker position, led by the hard-serving Todd Strassberger (Swim and Sport Club) and the ball striking of Eric Kindler (Wisconsin Fistball Association). The striking group is rounded out by Cory Dahn (Swim and Sport Club), who led the Americans to a third-place finish at the Pan-American Games, and the veteran presence of Mat Henrichs (Wisconsin Fistball Association). The setter/middle position will be occupied by Jack Stern (Milwaukee Fistball Club) and Kris Graham (Denver Fistball Club), both performed well for the team at last summer’s World Games. Defensively, the team will be led by the veteran leadership of captains Mat Ogin (Swim and Sport Club) and Aaron Weninger (Wisconsin Fistball Association). Returning to the team after a strong training camp will be Pat White (Wisconsin Fistball Association), and making his international debut will be the youngest member of the team, Danny Simon (Swim and Sport Club).
The United States was drawn into Group D along with Denmark, Serbia, and India. They will face India on July 22nd at 4 pm CET (Central European Time), Serbia on July 23rd at 11:20 CET, and finish group play against Denmark on July 24th at 2 pm CET. The top two teams in Group D will advance to play the bottom two teams in Group A, with a chance to qualify for the quarterfinals. The United States will take on continental rival Argentina and tournament favorite Germany in two warm-up matches on July 20th. After finishing in tenth place at the 2019 World Championships, a top 8 finish is the goal for the Americans this time around. All of the action from the 2023 World Championships can be seen live on fistball.tv with our own Kyle Ejsmont on the play-by-play. Please stay connected to USA Fistball on all of our social media platforms to stay up to date and support the squad on their quest at the 2023 Men’s Fistball World Championships.