by Živa Verdnik

Lately there have been many sport events at our school and one of them was also handball. Our handball teams have been playing for our school for a long time and this year is no exception. That is why I decided to discover more about handball as a sport and as a huge part of our school.

But first things first, what do we even know about handball? If you are not a handball player, like myself, there is a high chance that your answer to that question would be: not much. But no worries, I am here to help! And if you are actually a handball player or a big fan I hope you will enjoy my article as well. So, let’s get down to business. In the beginning I will, in short, describe the basics of handball, to help those who do not know how the sport is played.

So, handball is a team sport that is today mostly played in European countries. It is usually played indoors on the 20 meters wide and 40 meters long court. On the both ends of the court are goals, surrounded by goalkeeper’s restricting line, where only a goalkeeper can stand. The team consists of seven players on the bench and seven field players, one of them being the goalkeeper. The game is played with a ball that players pass to each other until one of them loses the ball to a player of the opposite team or scores the goal. Every goal brings one point. Game is usually played with halftime break and both teams switch sides. 10 to 15 minutes long halftime splits two 30 minutes long sets, which can be shorter in younger categories. Each team can call one minute timeout three times per game, (two times in one set) but only if the team that wants a timeout is in the ball possession at that moment. In one game each team usually scores up to 20 to 35 goals. If the score is tied after both sets two overtimes are played. They last 5 minutes and have one minute break. If the game is still tied players play the penalty shootout, and after that if the score is still not decided even extra rounds, which are played until one of the teams wins. Players with a ball can take three steps or wait three seconds without dribbling. The ball can touch any part of the players body above (and including) his/her knees. While defending the players are allowed to make body contact with the attacker. The game is separately played by men and women and has also been played at Olympic games since 1936.

In our school we also have our own girls’ and boys’ handball teams. The boys’ team is under Hubert Tratnik’s coaching and the other handball force is led by Natalija Fužir. In my exploring of handball I got to talk with some of the players in the girls’ handball team and I had an amazing opportunity to discover even more about the team’s dynamic.

Girls’ team is really successful and hardworking, that is why the girls achieved a lot, and not only this year, but last year as well. They came second in the quarter finals in our home town and third in semi-finals in Celje. This year they already started with competitions, they have already won against other teams at our school centre in November and won against the team from Gimnazija Ravne na Koroškem in December and came first. Now they are going to quarterfinals, where we hope they will be successful.

While discovering the world of handball I also got the chance to speak to one of the players from our school team, Tajda Podjavoršek.

You have been in our team for two years now. How would you describe it?

I joined the team when I first came to this school mostly because there was a lot of players with whom I was already playing in the Slovenj Gradec handball club and they invited me. The second I joined I realized that in this team the players were friendly, hardworking and that they work with good energy and fantastic team spirit, which made me feel welcomed and excided to play. Since I had known most of the players in person and on the court I became part of the team pretty quickly and without any problems. And I am sure that every first grader who joined besides me felt the same. The team accepts new players wonderfully and I will definitely make sure that I will treat newcomers as good as the older players treated me when I joined the team.

You have said that every year first graders join the team. How does that affect team’s dynamic?

I think that new players are a good thing and full of energy and ambitions and that helps the team to stay as good as it is. They also help to keep team alive after older players finish school and go to college – they carry it to the next generation of handball players. This year two new girls joined the team, for which I am glad, because that means that our team will live on even after we are not a part of it anymore.

Are you, your team and coach pleased with your recent and previous success?

We think we worked very hard and that our hard work shows on the court. We are very proud of our success, but we still think that we are capable to be even better. That is why we are going to push our limits this year and score as high as we can. Our couch and mentor Natalija Fužir is supporting us on every step and tries very hard to help us reach the goals that we decide to reach for. Without her this team wouldn’t be able to get anywhere and we are very grateful for her hard work, which is shown in our success on a lot of competitions.

 How do you see yourselves in the future? Do you think you will be as successful as you have been so far? 

For this year we truly wish to be successful and to show Slovenj Gradec and Slovenia what we can do. We think that we worked hard enough and that we are already winners, no matter what place we will end up in the end. We just want to show that we can be excellent players and enjoy while proving it. That is why we go to every game full of joy, good spirits and excitement and we keep that high spirit even after the game, no matter what the score is. We feel strong as a team and we believe that we will succeed. 

As you can see, our team is confident and hardworking, which will definitely show at the competitions. The handball team is and always will be an important part of our school. It has the support of all the teachers, our Headmaster and all the students that watch and cheer the players sweating on the field. With every game they remind us of the beauty of the team spirit and sport itself, which encourages us to go out and be active, or even join sports clubs. It remind us of fun, health and happiness that you get by being active and sometimes even encourages us to go out on a beautiful day to play some handball.

So, a happy handball season, everyone!