*picks up phone*
Emilie: “Hey babe, I thought I’d join Griffith’s handball team when I start uni, what you think?”
Le boyfie: “HAHAHAHA..HAha…ahhaha.. HAHA… Ahhhh, Emily (1 year together and he still can’t say my name right) you’re such a funny little one.” *hangs up*
Ok… hold the phone for just one second here. What on earth just happened?
Ever played handball in Physical Education (PE) in elementary school? Ever thought of it as a fast paced, strategical, semi-contact, team sport? No? Well, then we have some threads to untangle here, good people of Straya.
Before I started my studies at Griffith University, I was quite disorientated and was doing some research on Griffith’s website, as any nervous, foreign freshie would do. I stumbled upon a section called “Clubs and Societies“, and I thought “hmmm, let’s see what these Australians have got to offer”. I was then quite surprised to see that Griffith University actually has a handball team called the Griffith University Handball Vikings, considering I had never in my life seen Australia represented in the sport at any international competition, nor had I ever seen it on Australian television. I was about as excited as a puppy with two tails to be able to resume playing the best sport in the whole wide world (almost tearing up here, thats how much I love this sport). I called my boyfriend to ask what he thought about me joining the team, and if he would promise to come watch me play sometimes. That didn’t go quite as expected… After much ridicule and strange looks from others, confusion and frustration from my side, we finally untangled the handball-mystery. Turns out that the handball Australians play in PE in elementary school is NOT, I repeat NOT AT ALL, what I refer to when I say I have played handball for almost a decade. Turns out this puzzle was only missing one piece, one word, which was «European». I play EUROPEAN handball. Phewww, finally, glad we got that sorted!
European handball is a team sport involving seven players from each team; a goal keeper, two wings, two backs, a centre back, and a pivot. The game is extremely fast paced, strategic and rough. And you may think that the roughness only happens in the men’s games. Well, let me assure you: handball girls are not little princesses that cry over a broken nail. Or a broken ankle for that matter. Nevertheless, the name of the game is quite simple: get the ball inside the goal. You have 2 x 30 minutes to do that as many times as possible. Easy. Much easier than explaining to my boyfriend’s hip and cool mates that yes, I do play handball… but not the handball you think I play!
At Griffith Handball Vikings we have a vast representation of nationalities and skill levels, which makes it all much more fun, more challenging and thus more exciting. Coming to practice for the first time, I was quite nervous. I had been playing with my best friends all my life, so playing on a team with all new different people was quite daunting at first. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was mucking about at Mt Gravatt campus for a good 20 minutes before this lovely bloke showed me the way to the recreation hall, which BTW is not at all AT the actual campus but rather in the bush next to the busway. Anyways, it quickly turned out I had absolutely nothing to fear! The people there were so friendly and welcoming, I was overwhelmed. I was met with lots of smiles, “hellos” and “you’re new erhmageerd what is your name it’s so nice to meet youuu”. I met my best friend at that very practice.
The value of being a part of a club or society at uni is almost immeasurable. It can be very scary for international students to travel alone to a land far-far away, and lets face it; Australia is FAR away from almost every other country. For me, playing sports at uni is not only a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and keep fit… it is also about dealing with homesickness and being able to keep at least one aspect of my life from back home. Also, it is no secret that university life can sometimes become quite isolating. You go to lectures, you go to tutorials, you catch up on those 100-page-dry-as-sand readings, eat, sleep and repeat. You might feel as though your studies slowly start eating you up and you might get real stressed out. A great and actually scientifically proven way to deal with stress is to exercise. And believe me, handball will definitely get that heart rate up, and for all the right reasons. Lastly, being a part of something bigger than you, be it a team, a club, a prayer group, a cooking class, whatever floats your boat, is something almost every human needs in their life. I would strongly recommend all students, domestic or international, to join a club or society at university.
We Scandinavians are notoriously known for our savage Viking past. I am proud to be a Viking. And, I am proud to be a Griffith University Handball Viking.
If you want to join our team on our way to Uni Games, or just want to check it out and see if handball is for you, then come join us at the Mt Gravatt Recreation Hall on Mondays 6.30pm-8.30pm! Or, if you’re one of those people who’s legs and coordination are like spaghetti in a blender, why don’t you join the committee, help organise events and get some awesome experience to pimp up your resume?