The growth of handball

Development of team handball over the years

Handball is a great sport for boosting your fitness. However, it is only in recent years that the sport has grown in popularity, with Scandinavian nations and others quick to get involved. Here’s a look at the development of handball over the years.

The popularity of handball worldwide is a little akin to that of cricket or baseball in that not a great deal of nations play the game to a high standard, but in the countries that do, it is up there with the most popular sports in the country. 

The origins of the modern game of handball can be traced to northern Europe, primarily Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Varying sets of rules were set up in both Denmark and Germany. Over time these were improved upon and eventually led to the first international matches – Germany and Belgium men’s teams meeting in 1925 under this code of laws.

The sport remains popular in those countries where it first emerged. In Germany, for example, the sport is second only to football as a spectator sport. Other countries namely the Scandinavian nations of Sweden and Denmark plus France, Croatia and Spain are also very skilled in the sport. Norway and Russia generally continue to dominate the women’s side of the sport.

The men’s game debuted on football fields at the 1936 Games in Berlin, and over time evolved so that it next appeared in indoor form in 1972 at Munich. The women’s game was added to the Olympics at Montreal in 1976. Today handball is played in over 150 countries.

What of handball in Britain? Well the sport is firmly on the agenda and a GB team competed in the 2012 London Olympics as hosts. England and Scotland currently compete separately at a ‘Challenge’ Level of the sport. 

The home nations joined forces for the Olympics and the British Handball Association (BHA) appointed a performance management chairman linked to the Olympics and employed a world class coach in an attempt to get Team GB up to standard in time for the games. The association is also funding the chance for many of the best players in England and Scotland to go and train in Danish Academies to mix with some of the best players and coaches on the planet.

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