“Handball! That’s Gotta Be Handball……It Is Handball”


Listening to the gang (and even the commentator!) shouting “handball” is among the nice sounds of soccer matches world wide, and a second or two later the referee comes to a decision which is able to both delight or frustrate these followers. It’s maybe slightly unhappy although that this type of handball is much extra well-known than the game of the identical identify!

This pretty minor indoor sport has been a daily Olympic sport since 1972 (1976 for the ladies’s recreation) though it was first performed on the Berlin 1936 video games exterior. Thanks Wikipedia for that info! Regardless of having been an Olympic sport for my complete life I’m certain I had by no means seen various seconds of a match!

It was time to alter that on this yr of watching as many new sports activities as potential. I ventured on over to Area Tachikawa Tachihi within the western a part of Tokyo. The sector is positioned a few stops from Tachikawa station on the Tama Monorail however I assumed I’d save a few hundred yen by simply taking the 20 minute stroll. It was a pleasant night and I had time on my aspect. Finally the sector got here into view and there was a sizeable crowd of individuals ready in line. As is usually the case in Japan, it was for the meals vehicles and fortunately to not get in.

 

Simply forward of the 7:00pm begin there was the inevitable cheerleader efficiency which nonetheless appear to precede many sports activities in Japan. The feminism motion nonetheless lags a good manner behind in Japan and the sexualisation of issues like that is nonetheless fairly rife. The quantity of older males with lengthy lens cameras specializing in such exercise is slightly unnerving at occasions.

The 3000 seat area, which opened in 2017, is extra used to internet hosting basketball or futsal video games however on this event it was a handball match between two groups from Shinagawa (Tokyo) and Miyoshi (Saitama) which makes me marvel why this explicit venue was chosen!

Fellow Leicester Metropolis fan Max talked about to me on the Celtic Vs Yokohama F. Marinos recreation in mid-July that the PSG handball staff have been enjoying some friendlies in Japan concurrently the soccer staff final Summer season. Subsequently I checked out these dates however they sadly didn’t match up with my work schedule. Nonetheless, the concept of watching handball had been firmly planted in my thoughts and so I checked out to see if there have been any mens or ladies’s groups in Tokyo. There wasn’t any for the latter however there have been just a few males’s groups from the capital metropolis. Probably the most interesting one to me have been known as Zeekstar Tokyo however the one fixture appropriate for me wasn’t till late November!

A 4 month wait to see them play ended on November twenty second (a college vacation for me) nevertheless it needs to be added that getting a ticket was an arduous job. I believe some sports activities in Japan actually don’t assist themselves doubtlessly develop as it’s typically essential to arrange an account on a special website (I’m signed as much as so many ticketing websites now!) which wants every kind of non-public knowledge to be inputted. It’s a whole lot of problem and takes up time which the extra informal followers will simply quit on.

Attempting to withstand hilariously shouting “handball!” each time a participant touched it!

It’s not simply each sports activities membership that has to have a mascot in Japan however just about each firm too, and it’s certainly large enterprise on this nation the place kawaii cuteness actually helps shift merchandise. This one known as Zeestar. Its lightning motif eyebrows supposedly signify velocity!

Velocity does play an essential function in handball it appears. The preliminary construct up play although may be fairly gradual with some tedious passing of the ball on the again while the opposition all sit again awaiting the assault. It will definitely comes as they attempt to go their manner by their opponents defence.

Objectives come thick and quick throughout the two thirty-minute halves and it’s fairly arduous to maintain with all of it. The groups typically replied with a purpose inside seconds of conceding! I’ve mentioned earlier than that I’m not such a fan of sports activities the place factors are scored repeatedly. Possibly that’s why I principally watch soccer and rugby as I can keep in mind sure incidents nicely however for different sports activities the factors scored are sometimes very related in model.

One frequent model of purpose right here was through a man ready proper within the nook to gather the ball,  take a step or two earlier than leaping into the world and throwing it into the again of the online.

The seven metre throw is the equal of the penalty however given that you may throw a dummy or three it appears fairly straightforward to beat the keeper.

 

When a shot is saved it actually does appear one thing of a shock and it brings the followers of that staff alive as they realise there may be the prospect of capitalising on that and going up the opposite finish of the court docket and upsetting the rhythm of 1 staff scoring and the opposite replying. Soccer goalkeeping nice Peter Schmeichel and his son, Leicester legend Kasper used to play this sport and I imagine their famed manner of creating their physique like a star truly stems from their days of enjoying handball again in Denmark.

“Go, go Zeek” was repeatedly blasted out of the general public handle system (though in Japanese pronunciation it sounded extra like “go go chi”) to encourage the Tokyo staff to get again into the sport within the closing levels however the hole couldn’t be bridged they usually misplaced.

Admittedly, my expectations for this sport beforehand have been fairly low however they have been exceeded. With similarities to basketball, netball, water-polo (minus the water), futsal and lots of extra it was definitely a sport which appeared acquainted but so completely different.

Closing Rating: Zeekstar Tokyo 29-37 Osaki Electrical

Bonus: There are apparent similarities (the wood court docket, operating, bouncing a ball, passing, taking pictures and so on) between handball and basketball and I went to see the latter a few weeks earlier.

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