Why isn’t handball bigger in Australia?

unlikelysportsfan Roar Rookie

By unlikelysportsfan, unlikelysportsfan is a Roar Rookie


37 Have your say

    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.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (37)

    • February 4th 2013 @ 3:03am
      Steve said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:03am | ! Report

      Denim cut-off short-shorts for men and Ace of Bass are popular in Europe too.
      Geez, just because something terrible is popular in Europe doesn’t mean Australia has to follow suit.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 3:57pm
        nickoldschool said | February 5th 2013 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

        plus aussies didnt need help to create their very own bogans.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 7:27am
      Tigranes said | February 4th 2013 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      Basketball and ice hockey are probably bigger in Europe, maybe rugby union as well (at least n France, Italy and uk)

      • February 4th 2013 @ 7:44am
        Lucan said | February 4th 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        Basketball, Handball, and even Volleyball are all popular in Europe.

        Many football clubs set up “Sporting clubs”, which cover these other sports, and there’s a real cross-over in support. Euro Basketball and Volleyball matches aren’t played in Football like atmospheres by coincidence.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 10:00am
          Tigranes said | February 4th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report


          I have no doubts that handball is popular as a participant sport, but I dont know about its professional status – do the top handball players get paid salaries of 500K euros like some french rugby clubs do? Does it draw capacity crowds for its big club comps or international games?

          And to the question as to why Australians arent taking handball up in droves is moot point – far more Australians follow and and aware of the NFL, yet why arent we taking up that sport?

          • February 4th 2013 @ 10:32am
            Lucan said | February 4th 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            I agree with you. Was trying to add to your comment directed at the author, rather than debating or disputing your point. 😉

    • February 4th 2013 @ 7:40am
      Lucan said | February 4th 2013 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      We played European Handball in high school. There is also a league in Melbourne.

      Not sure about other schools/cities, but at least in Melb it is more prevelant than you expect.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 8:19am
      mushi said | February 4th 2013 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Perhaps because we have…two rugby variants, afl, cricket, soccer and netball before delving into swimming, hockey, basketball, tennis, squash, touch football, motor sport and 30 other sports I’ve probably offended by not mentioning.

      If there is one thing Australia’s vast landscape doesn’t have room for it is another high profile sport

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:01am
      Australian Rules said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      At the Olympics, Australia was represented in every team event (except handball), the most of any country.

      Why don’t we compete? Probably cos it’s lame.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 4:28am
        Bob Anderson said | February 5th 2013 @ 4:28am | ! Report

        Its a great game. Watch a full match on Youtube. Far, far better sport than basketball.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:06am
      damo said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      The historical answere is because no one brought the game here. Aussie Rules was born here, Rugby was brought over by the officer classes of the early settlers, as was other ‘gentlemens’ games like tennis golf cricket etc. Soccer was probably here from those early days but not popularized until much later.

      Migrants from Eastern and Southern Europe (Handballs stronghold) weren’t allowed into the country under the White Australia policy until after WW2 and most of them all had strong soccer affiliations, but the migrants and their sports/games were often treated with mistrust and distain (soccer clubs named after European towns or cultural aspects and all in brawls on the pitch didn’t help).

      It’s like asking why Gaelic footy isn’t bigger here- those who played the game weren’t in a high cultural standing or influance when they were alowed in, and those who were already had their own sports intrenched into the cultural landscape