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Handball champs hit capital

Dec 10th, 2014 | By | Category: Latest News, News, Sport



SAMOAN CHALLENGE: The Samoan handball team lays down their pre match challenge



HUMBLE VICTOR: Samoan player consoles losing Cook Islander

THE KIWIS are quietly confident of an upset over the Australian juggernaut in the biannual Oceania Junior Handball Championships.

The International Handball Federation Trophy event made its Wellington debut this week with the sport rapidly gaining national popularity.

An atmosphere of culture and energy filled the ASB Sports Centre as the Pacific’s finest young handball players took centre court.

Teams from 16 countries have came to compete in the men’s under-20 and women’s under-19 tournaments.

Daniel Triesbsch of Germany is charged with organising the event.

With no major sponsors or grants, Triesbsch and his team have had to rely heavily on donations and fundraising to finance the tournament.

“It’s all worth it as the exposure of the sport continues to grow,” Triesbsch says.

In 2007 there were only 100 handball players in New Zealand, with 80% of them being foreigners.

Today there are nearly a thousand, and 85% are Kiwis.

“It’s a fast, fun and simplistic game which appeals to its players,” Daniel says.

“Particularly with rugby being so competitive in New Zealand players can transfer their talents to the handball court. It’s a faster and more realistic path to the national side.

“Handball can satisfy the mongrel in them too with its physical nature,” he says.

Daniel wants the young players to experience the buzz he felt scoring a winning goal in front of 5000 screaming fans.

“Unlike cricket or football the fans have as much fun watching it as players do playing it,” he says.

New Zealand is closing the gap to Australia’s Pacific dominance and is closer to competing against world powers Croatia, France and Denmark.

Emma McKay of the New Zealand under-19 women’s team says she grew up playing basketball with her brothers but fell in love with handball at high school.

It’s been a meteoric rise to the national side for McKay, having only played the game for two years.

“It’s the speed I love about it, it’s a rough game but the low risk injury factor means my parents are right behind it too.”

After dispatching the Cook Islands and Vanuatu, McKay is confident her team is capable of going to the IHF world finals in 2015.

“We’ve been training hard and have a good group of girls I think can get the job done.”

Teams have been split into two pools with the top team of each pool playing the runners up in the semi-finals.

The finals will be held this Saturday from 11am at the ASB Sports Centre.



FLEET FOOTED: Samoan player implements a Benji Marshall-Esq step to evade defenders.





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