Queen’s University is home to many sports, but it is known mainly for its Rugby and Gaelic Football prowess. Over the past few years, however, a small but growing sport has been building up its profile within the university. Queen’s Handball Club, which has recently reformed over the past few years is increasing its membership, and we are always looking for new players to join!
But what is Handball you may be asking? Well, handball is an ancient game originating in Ireland that has been exported to America, Canada, England, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Japan, to name but a few. Like tennis, you can play either singles or doubles against each other. There are four versions of the game, but for this article, I am going to focus on the two versions at Queen’s – 40×20 Handball and Wallball. 40×20 is played in a court, similar to a squash alley that measures 40 feet by 20 feet in length. The aim of the game? To win 21 points against the opponent and the game can be won in the best of three games. The sport involves serving to a player, making sure it crosses over the service line; the opponent must always try to return the ball by hitting it with their hand, otherwise this player will lose their point.
Rallies in Handball can be similar in length to Tennis, therefore it’s a fast-paced sport. The Wallball version is very similar, only the court differs- there is literally only a ball and a wall and you must hit the ball within the court marking lines to win points.
Both versions of the game are highly accessible; all you need is a ball, a pair of gloves, eye goggles and an opponent to play against! Handball is also one of the most fitness intensive sports out there, giving every muscle a full-body workout. It’s great, both mentally and physically, as you are constantly working on your hand-eye co-ordination. As well as improving your fitness, the sport has a great social element to it. Take, for example, the Irish Collegiate 40×20 championships held at the end of January, in a fantastic venue known as Kingscourt, just a few hours down the road from Belfast. Every year, hundreds of students from across the island descend upon the venue for a weekend of craic, competitive sporting spectacle and a chance to meet new people.
University Handball is governed in Ireland by an all-island body known as the Irish Collegiate Handball Association, who, every year, hold multiple events ranging across the various codes. University Handball at QUB also provides the potential for students to compete on an international level, at the USA Inter-Varsity’s competition held every year across the Atlantic. Further to this, handball in the US is a professional sport, broadcast by ESPN.
Handball at Queen’s is growing every day, mainly due to the efforts of two individuals, Alan Armstrong, whose chairmanship has seen the club reformed, and external leagues increased. The second Individual is Seamus Graham, whose work for both Belfast and Ulster handball is second to none when it comes to organising fixtures and compiling results. If you’re interested in joining the QUB Handball Club, come down to the PEC’s handball and racquetball courts on a Monday or Wednesday night from 6.30pm onwards and talk to one of our members about giving the game a try.
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