I read last Tuesday on Wikipedia’s ‘In The News’ section not only that Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic won Australian Open titles, but also that Spain had defeated Denmark to win the 2013 World Men’s Handball Championship, held in Spain.
Congratulations to the Spanish national handball team on winning at home.
I then clicked the tournament’s Wikipedia page and noticed Australia qualified to compete this tournament.
Strangely, I didn’t know that the tournament was happening, let alone that Australia was competing in it.
I doubt many Australians knew about it either. I haven’t noticed any mention of the tournament in the newspapers.
How did Australia go in this tournament? Not great.
The Aussies finished 24th out of 24 nations competing, losing every single game.
Australia played against Croatia, Hungary, eventual champions Spain, Algeria, and Egypt in the group stage, and against South Korea and Chile in the final ranking stage.
Overall, Australia scored 103 goals through the tournament, but let in 276.
How did Australia qualify? Australia won the 2012 Oceania Handball Championship on the 22 and 23 June last year at the Dural Sports and Leisure Centre in Sydney.
Defeating the region’s only other competitor, New Zealand, in a two-game series in front of a crowd of 200, Australia earned a world championship spot.
The sport of handball looks like a cross between basketball and futsal. Judging by watching bits of the game on YouTube, the game looks pretty simple to play.
Handling the ball like basketball without bouncing the ball continuously, and scoring goals by throwing the ball through the goal cage.
It is probably the second most popular team sport in Europe after football, with the World and European Championships broadcast on major television networks in European countries.
It has a popular domestic club competition and even a UEFA Champions League-style continental competition. It is also an Olympic sport, having been part of the Olympics since the Munich games in 1972.
But why does this sport not have a larger presence in Australia?
I am not aware of any amateur club presence in my local sports hall, I have never seen anyone play handball socially in the park or on the beach.
I’ve never learnt it in my PE classes when I was in school.
This sport would be great in school PE classes. It looks easy to play, it involves a lot of running, throwing, blocking, jumping and it can be played outdoors and indoors.
So why can’t handball have a larger profile than it currently has?
Seeing that handball is an Olympic sport, I’m sure the Australian Olympic Committee could do more to boost its profile.