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Aussies Get A Handle On Handball

  • September 8th, 2007
  • Posted by Sarah West

handball-2.jpgThree players in Europe want to see progress on the road to the Olympics.

FROM SCHOOLYARDS TO PRO LEVEL

Most Australian’s know handball as a schoolyard game, played with a tennis ball, and mild in comparison to other sports.

However, traditionalists know it as an Olympic sport which requires supreme agility, speed, skill and tactical prowess.

In Europe spectators flock in droves to see the very best contest the sport which, in many countries on the continent, is second only to (soccer) Football in its following.

Yet, despite their origins in a nation where many believe Rugby League, AFL or cricket to be the only sport on the planet, a handful of athletes are putting Australia on handball’s international radar.

Cathy Kent, Tim Jackson and Bevan Calvert have broken the mould, opting out of the traditional sports of their homeland, and are now matching it with the world’s finest hand-ballers, week-in-week-out, in some of the world’s toughest professional leagues.

Kent, who plays in France for first division team Aunis Handball Perigny, in La Rochelle, was introduced to handball on a school excursion to the Australian Institute of Sport.

“They were teaching us new sports and handball was one of them,” she says.

“I fell in love with it straight away; it was the coolest sport I had ever played.”

Jackson, who plays for GV Ejby Middelfart in Denmark, was attracted by the game’s athleticism.

“It has everything I look for in a sport; speed, aggression and it’s tactical.

“For me, nothing else can compare,” he says.

And it’s this passion for the sport that gives them the motivation to do whatever it takes to succeed, in handball’s toughest arena.

“I train four to five times per week with the team and up to three times a week alone in the weights room, and play a game; so there isn’t a lot of spare time,” says Jackson.
Kent too dedicates most of her waking hours to honing her skills.

“I train twice a day.

“In the morning it can vary from handball, weights, running or individual work with trainers, and we always do handball training at night,” she says.

And if playing against handball’s elite isn’t enough of a test for these athletes, living away from home presents other challenges.

“I am able to understand a bit of Danish, when spoken a little slower, and I can say that my spoken Danish is horrible, but I try!” says Bevan Calvert who plays semi-professionally in Denmark for first division team Ribe.

Kent is also determined to break down the language barrier.

“I’m the only non-French speaking player in the team, so to learn French is a must.”

“There’s no better way to learn the language then to hang out with my fellow team members,” she says.

SHELLING OUT TO PLAY FOR AUSTRALIA

While handball players are usually well paid in Europe, Kent, Jackson and Calvert have to foot the bill when it comes to returning home and playing for their national teams.

“Some of the players in Europe can’t understand why we pay our own way to play for our country, but there is nothing greater than representing your country in the sport you love,” says Calvert.

With the World Women’s Handball Championships to be held in France later this year, Kent believes the lack of funding and support will mean Australia’s national team is disadvantaged.

“Of the 24 countries competing, we are the only country whose athletes have to pay for the entire trip out of our own pockets.

“We have two professionally paid players in our national team, while the other country’s players are all pro.”

A good result at the Championships is crucial if the team’s to qualify for next year’s Beijing Olympic Games; a feat never achieved by an Australian team.

Jackson also thinks it’s long overdue for handball to receive more attention at home.

“I believe once the Australian people know what handball is, they will love it,” he says.

And while playing in Europe is beneficial to their development in the sport, living on the continent has other distinct advantages.

“I always have time to try the French food and wines,” says Kent.

GETTING TO KNOW HANDBALL

• Handball is also known as European Handball, Olympic Handball and Team Handball.
• Two teams each consisting of seven players pass and bounce a ball with the intention of scoring in the goal of the opposing team.
• The goal is similar to that which is used in soccer, but is smaller.
• Each goal is guarded by a goal keeper.
• Goals can only be scored from the hand.

Picture: Bevan Calvert shoots for goal

Vision: HANDBALL YOU-TUBE Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKTXU_NKUTw

10 Responses to “Aussies Get A Handle On Handball”

  1. Mary Says:

    Great article, interesting sport. More people should definately be playing this one in Australia!

  2. Steve Says:

    This sounds like a really great sport that needs to be played more in Australia. Maybe if some companies got behind the sport and provided sponsorship so our national players did not have to pay for the privilege of representing their country they might get more people playing.

  3. Vernon Says:

    Love the article! Let’s get Australia to the Olympics and support our National team to the World Championships.
    Go get ’em girls and make us proud!

  4. Sherry Ann Says:

    Nice article!
    This is an excellent sport. Bevan is a close family friend of ours and we give him, his family/friends, and team mates many blessings. Do what you love. Follow your dream.
    Keep up the amazing work boys!

  5. Adrian Says:

    It is the greatest and one of the oldest sports in world , hope we can see a bigger interest for this sport in Australia.I played this sport since I was grade 4 in Romania ,If there is a financial support for this sport Im sure Australia can be excellent.The potential we have in this country its enormous.

  6. Violi Says:

    Thank you for highlighting in your website an article on the Australian handballers. These athletes have my utmost admiration for their passion for their sport and for representing their country.

  7. Aleksandra Says:

    Thanks for writing about handball.
    This fantastic sport and its players in Australia need and deserve more support and attention.
    Good job!

  8. Jim Says:

    The first time I saw a game of handball, I fell in love with it. I think most Aussies would too, if they saw a game. I could see the whole nation getting behind this sport, like they do in other countries. Go Cathy. Australia is proud of you.

  9. Nora Says:

    Good on you Aussies, flying the Aussie flag.
    Good luck in the World Championships.

  10. andres olascoaga Says:

    Thanks for writting about handball ,for my point of view we need some bussnes minded people to run the sport as a bussines investing money and creating awarness for the sport in au ,how long the national team players can pay from their own pocket to represent australia ?
    i appriciate their time and effort for that
    andres

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