Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Aussie handballers train to battle world’s best

Dan Kelly in action for the Australian side earlier this year (Source: Australian Handball Federation)

Dan Kelly in action for Australia. (Photo courtesy of Australian Handball Federation)

The Australian Men’s Handball team’s manager says there is no easy path to January’s World Cup in Sweden but along with the game’s profile, the only way is up.

John Calvert says the Australian squad of 16 players has been named for the world championship, including four Queenslanders.

He has managed the Men’s Open team for three years and is full of praise for his players.

“We’re the outsiders of the tournament – if we win one game we’ll have equalled our previous best,” Calvert said.

“My main focus is that we do qualify for the world championships and we have.”

Calvert says handball is growing in Australia, but the game has a long way to go.

“It’s only through the constant sacrifice of our players that we continue to develop,” Calvert said.

Players pay

The team does have some help from private sponsors, but Calvert says the players are largely self-funded.

The Australian Olympic Committee reduced its sponsorship after the team failed to make the Olympics after the Sydney games in 2000.

“To progress to the next stage, we need some sponsorship and at the moment all the money is being gobbled up by the big time [sports],” Calvert said.

Dan Kelly, 22, plays on the wing for both Queensland and Australia and is training hard.

“Right now we’re focusing on strength building and endurance work,” he said.

Kelly also says the sport will grow in time.

“Really, we’re looking at winning some games to raise the profile of the sport, which should increase participation and sponsorship,” he said.

‘Best teams’

European Handball was introduced to Australia in the 1980s, but has been played in Europe for over a century.

“Croatia, France and Germany are some of the best teams, but the sport is very much professional over there,” Kelly said.

Next month, the National Championships will take place in Melbourne and Kelly is confident Queensland will do well.

“Along with New South Wales, we’re pretty widely regarded as one of the best teams,” he said.

This year every state except Tasmania will field a team, including for the first time, the Northern Territory.

Calvert says Australian athletes from other popular sports would not find it difficult to learn handball.

“Probably, Australian Rules players would have the best chance,” he said.

“Height is a huge advantage, speed is another incredible advantage, as well as stamina, upper-body strength and a good throwing arm.”

Queensland has both male and female teams and all competition is open age.

Related Links:

Australian Handball Federation

Queensland Handball

International Handball Federation – World Championships
http://www.ihf.info/IHFCompetitions/WorldChampionships/tabid/1502/Default.aspx

International Handball Federation – World Championships