By Josh Rose
The latest intramural sport offered at the University of Calgary is handball. Handball has been offered for the last two semesters, but has not generated enough interest to run as a league.
Handball is fashioned like other sports — a team must win by scoring on the other team’s goal. It is typically played on an indoor soccer field. However, there are variants of handball where it is played outside — the most popular styles are field handball and beach handball, more commonly called sandball.
Team handball is played with seven players including a goaltender on each team. After receiving the ball, players can only hold the ball for three seconds before passing, dribbling like in basketball or shooting. Players are allowed to take up to three steps without dribbling and if players dribble they may take an additional three steps after.
Handball competes with basketball, soccer, volleyball and hockey for popularity and, unfortunately, has lost the contest, said intramural supervisor, Ian Munn.
“We’ve tried to run handball the last two semesters. For the fall semester we had three teams register and that’s not enough to run a league. In the winter semester we only had six individuals sign up,” said Munn. “I think the idea is to run handball as a drop-in sport and see what interest there is.”
The university decided to introduce handball as something new and different for students. The original plan was to have handball played on Wednesday nights in the red gym due to the lines already being on the floor and soccer nets in place. Only the handballs were needed in order to play and referees would be on loan from the Alberta Team Handball Federation. The ATHF is the organization that runs all handball tournaments in Alberta. It is a division of the Canadian Team Handball Federation which is organized by the Pan-American Team Handball Federation. The International Handball Federation is the entity that runs each continental division and organizes the world championship.
“We looked at the rules and we did a little modifying to fit our program,” said Munn. “Our rules aren’t as extensive. We cut out the fouls and shortened the games from an hour to 50 minutes.”
Munn wasn’t expecting handball to be an overnight success, but there was some hope that there would be enough interest to get it running. They advertised the new sport in their intramural brochure, online and with posters.
Mount Royal University had the same issue when they tried implementing handball into their intramural line-up. It has been growing steadily as a drop-in sport.
Despite the lack of popularity, Munn isn’t finished with handball quite yet. “People go out and spread the word about things. Word of mouth is the best advertiser. We’re going to try it again next fall and I’ll do some talking with our marketing people to really push for it.”