(Last Updated on : 16/02/2012)
History of handball in India goes back a long way. The game is very much popular in and there are a lot of debates over the origin of Handball. Though, many think that the game was played over four thousand years ago in Egypt, ancient Rome and by many other South American countries, some people claim that the game originated in the 11th century. However, the modern version of the game of Handball that everybody knows today actually came into existence only in the ending part of the 19th century in Northern Europe, primarily Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. If anybody keeps the new version of the game in mind, then it can be said that this game is much younger compared to the other games of the world.
The name "Handball" is actually the translation of the Danish name of the game into the language of German. This name was also influenced by the name of the game of Basket Ball. After the invention of the modern version of Handball, the game started to become more and more popular in the Central and Northern European countries. The first ever rules for the modern handball was drawn up by Dane Holger Nielsen in the year of 1898 and published them in 1906. Another person named as R.N. Ernst also did something similar in the year of 1897.
After the first two sets of rules were published, another set was published on October 29, 1917 by Max Heiser, Carl Schelenz and Erich Konigh from Germany. In the year of 1919, the famous professor of the Berlin Physical Education School, Carl Schelenz made a very good effort and improved these rules further. The first international games were played between Germany and Belgium for men in 1925 under the rules compiled by Carl Schelenz.
When the people started to play the game, they used to play it as an eleven-a-side game in the outdoors on a soccer field. The modern game of Handball actually evolved from three similar sports from three different European countries. The sports were the Hazena from Czech Republic, the Haandbold from the Netherlands and the Torball from Germany. All of the three sports were based on the famous sport of Soccer and the only difference was that the players used to play the ball with their hands in spite of their foot. For this difference, the players enjoyed more facility in batting or throwing the ball.
In the year of 1926, the Standard International Rules for the game were established. In 1928, the organisation that governs the game at the international level and named as the "International Amateur Handball Federation" was established by 11 countries during the Summer Olympic Games. This international organisation was renamed later in 1946 as the present "International Handball Federation". The game got the honour of being an exhibition sport at the Olympics in the years of 1928 and 1932. It became a full-fledged Olympic sport in 1936 Munich Games.
After the popularity of the game, Handball spread all through Europe. Some major adjustments were being considered as necessary in Northern Europe. The reason behind this was mainly the more severe climate. At that time, the need for playing Handball in the indoor became obvious and necessary. The game of Handball became faster and more colourful after people started to play it indoor. The popularity of the game also grew very rapidly throughout Europe. The indoor Handball game was largely based on the Danish game of Haandbold and here it was played as a seven-a-side game. It was also played in a significantly smaller area. The IAHF organised the first ever seven-a-side World Championships in the year of 1938 and then after every four or sometimes three years since the World War II. Since the year of 1995 World Championship held in Iceland, the competition has been held after every two years. Both the Indoor and the Outdoor field versions of Handball were being enjoyed equally till the late 1960's.
When the World War II was over, the seven-player game of Handball steadily took over from the eleven-player version in Europe and also spread to other continents. The World championship play, which was stopped due to the war, started again in 1954 as the first IHF men's indoor World Championships and in 1965 the Olympic Committee approved indoor handball for the Olympic Games. With this approval, the game again entered in the game list of the Olympic Games in the year of 1972 in Munich. The Women's World Championships have been played since 1957. The women's teams began to take part in the Handball competition in the Olympic Games from the Summer Olympics in 1976. At present the IHF also organises the Women's and Men's Junior World Championships.
If anyone is interested about the powerhouses of Handball throughout the world, then here is some information for them. The Scandinavian countries, Germany and the former Soviet Union were traditionally the powerhouses in world Handball. However, their reigning scenario started to change from the last decade of the 20th century as the popularity of the sport has increased in the Southern and Western European countries. It was becoming popular in the Far East as well. In the current scenario, the strongest national teams of the world the teams from France, Denmark, Egypt, and Korea.
Though Handball is not much popular in the English-speaking world till today, but it is played in all parts of America, Canada, Australia, Britain and Ireland at present. The teams from these countries do compete at World and Olympic championships regularly but they are still waiting to be considered amongst the top ranking nations of the world. At present, there are 159 member federations representing the world organisation, IHF and approximately 1,130,000 teams and a total of 31 million players, trainers, officials and referees are attached with the huge organisation.