Hand me that ball
LUIZA AMARAL - It’s a dynamic and fast-paced game in which the primary goal is to get through the defenders and attack in order to score the most goals. No, I am not talking about soccer, but rather, another sport which is also very popular in Brazil: handball.
Mixing basketball and soccer, handball was first played in Germany in 1919. It was initially played on a grassy field similar to a soccer field and each team had 11 players. Today the sport is played in smaller fields and each team is comprised of seven players: two sideliners, a pivot, two defenders, a central player, and a goal keeper.
Even though handball is very popular in Brazil and Europe, the game is not very well-known in Canada. Romanian Adrian Tarcea coaches the BC National Handball Team and thinks that if there were more players and federated teams in the country the sport would get more visibility.
“We need more people to get involved with the game, more teams, but for this to happen people have to know that the sport exists. The first step is to teach children to play what we call ‘European Handball’,” said Tarcea.
Brazilian Jean Lucas de Andrade agrees that the sport needs to get more recognition within the school system.
“Here in Canada, European immigrants especially, are trying to bring people’s attention to the sport. There is a lack of support from government and schools. The kids should be taught how to play handball early on.”
Andrade has been playing handball for 15 years and as soon as he arrived in Vancouver in September 2011, he had a hard time finding a team to practice with. But after a lot of research, he ended up finding the BC National Handball Team. The team usually travels to compete; however, they do not receive sponsorship and must pay their own way. This year they have already played in Abbotsford, Kamloops, Seattle, and San Francisco, in addition to Vancouver.
Despite being founded in 1995 and having a few constant players, the team formation is very inconsistent because most of the players are not Vancouver residents and end up returning to their countries of origin after their stay in Canada. This is the case for Marcos Vinicius Cons, a Brazilian who came to Vancouver to study English and was part of the team before returning to his native Curitiba.
“I didn’t want to stop playing handball just because I came to study in Canada, so when I found out that there was a handball team in BC, I joined the team to keep practicing, but then my English course ended and I went back to my country and my routine,” said Cons.
Despite the inconsistency in the team’s formation and the lack of sponsors, the team hopes that one day the sport will be more recognized in Canada and surely Brazilians can contribute to this initiative.