Ipswich secures Oceania trophy
ONE of the fastest and most popular sports in the world will be showcased in Ipswich next week when the city hosts the inaugural International Handball Federation Oceania Challenge Trophy.
The 20 years and under men’s international tournament starts at the Redbank and Collingwood Park Sports Complex on Tuesday.
The Australian team are title favourites, with New Zealand also rated highly.
Other teams contesting the round robin competition from December 7-13 are the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The efforts of Bundamba-based official Paul Smith helped Ipswich secure the hosting rights, ahead of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.
Smith is the Australian Handball Federation and Oceania zone president. He met with international handball officials in Turkey earlier this year and has been negotiating with officials in Switzerland to press Ipswich’s case.
Paul’s son Nathaniel is also heavily involved in organising next week’s tournament.
“We believe that Ipswich could do it,” said Paul, a barrister who has conquered many hockey and handball challenges.
“It was meant to be held in New Caledonia in September this year then it got caught up in international sporting politics regarding the status of New Caledonia.
“We’ve been working on it (bringing it to Ipswich) for the last four months but we only got formal approval three weeks ago.”
The Australian Handball Federation is running the event.
Handball is played in 180 countries, making it the second largest sport in the world behind football.
“It’s very professional now in a lot of parts of the world,” Paul said.
In Australia, handball is a developing sport.
Nathaniel, who represented Australia at the world beach handball championships this year, hopes next week’s indoor form of the game excites regional fans.
“It’s really fast, it’s physical,” Nathaniel said. “I’m hoping that there will be on average 50 goals a game.”
Three matches will be played each day, leading into semi-finals and finals.
Handball teams have seven players on the court at once, with rolling substitutions.
Nathaniel said the courts would be set up under international standards.
“We’re hoping to get the local community involved,” he said. “It’s the first one ever held in this part of the world.”