handball

handball: still a thing?

In primary school, in mid-nineties New South Wales, Australia, I played a game called handball at lunch and recess. This involved a tennis ball, either a two- or four-box grid that was painted or chalked on the asphalt, and two or four players accordingly. It was basically hand tennis without a net: you ‘served’ the ball by bouncing it on the ground in your square over the line to your opponent, who could only let it bounce once in their square before returning play in kind, and so on until there was either a double bounce, a shot that went over the line on the full, or the ball went out. If you did a power shot (a hard, fast hit with a spin that often went low) and the ball ended up rolling, you could call “Rolls, pickups, play on!” and serve again, though sometimes you’d agree that, once the ball was rolling, you could also hit it back at a roll. 

If you were playing the four-square version, the squares were called King, Queen, Jack and Dunce - or sometimes Ace, King, Queen and Jack, depending on where you went to school - and the game was a rotating one. The person in the high square (King or Ace) would serve, and every time a point was won, the winner would move up a square, so that the loser had to rotate to Jack/Dunce. If the person in the lowest square was called out, a new player could enter the game; otherwise, in the two-player version, you’d either play to a set number of points, or the first out person would swap with a waiting player.

As a kid, I loved handball. In term, I played it almost daily between the ages of six and eleven, and I’m reasonably sure that I still played sometimes in early high school. But now, as an adult of 31, it’s suddenly struck me that I’ve never encountered any reference to handball in any other context. I’ve never seen it mentioned in stories or heard other adults talk about it, never seen younger kids playing it or overheard it mentioned since, and assuming I ever discussed it with friends as a teenager, I’ve now completely forgotten. 

So: is handball of this type a thing that still happens? Did other people play it as kids? Is it unique to Australia, or more universal, or do other Australians have no memory of it? I’m curious to know!

It will hurt.
It will take time.
It will require dedication.
It will require willpower.
You will need to make healthy decisions.
It requires sacrifice.
You will need to push your body to its max.
There will be temptation.
But, I promise you, when you reach your goal, t’s worth it!
8

Slovenian fans and handball players celebrating third place on the World Handball Championship in France!

I’m speechless what this boys did for our country! They are already so strong and they proved they can do the impossible! To many more amazing wins! To many more years! To many more games like that! Thank you for everything! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! 

Two million hearts beating for this incredible team! Thank you again! 

8

After exactly 20 years as a professional handball player, Gro Hammerseng-Edin has retired from handball with her last professional match for Larvik HK today (21 May 2017) – taking home the Norwegian championship for the seventh consecutive time with a win over Vipers Kristiansand.

2007 World Handball Player of the Year, 2008 Olympic gold medallist, three-time European champion (2004, 2006 and 2010), 2010-11 Champions League winner, former captain of the Norwegian national team with 167 caps and 631 goals scored over a span of 10 years, former captain of all the club teams she has played for during her senior career (Gjøvik og Vardal HK, FC Midtjylland Håndbold and Larvik HK), role model and living handball legend.


Takk for alt, Gro!