Monday, March 7, 2011

Handball: The European Kind

Before arriving in Denmark, we did a little bit of reading about our new home and learned that one of most popular sports here is handball. Not the kind of handball with two people on a racket ball court with a little tiny ball. Team handball. I am not going to go into a major description here because Wikipedia does it better. But, basically it's a team sport played inside on a basketball court (with different lines painted on the floor). There are goalies with nets behind them and a ball that looks like a smaller soccer ball which is passed between players, dribbled and thrown into the back of the net. It's a fast sport, high-scoring, slightly violent and very entertaining. Really, it has all the elements of a sport American fans would love. We aren't sure why it's not more popular in the US.

Apparently the US does have a national men's and women's team and we play in the Olympics. But, who has ever heard of them? Not us. In fact, according to some sketchy Internet research, the US has four summer Olympic events in which it has never medaled and one is handball.

But in Copenhagen, handball is anything but obscure. During our first or second week here, we made our way to a local Team Ajax game (named after the cleaning product but pronounced Ah-yahx). It was past Riley's bedtime, but we all still had a great time.

Neil selected a favorite player and began cheering loudly for him in English, I got a little embarrassed because I didn't want to stand out, but ultimately couldn't help but to laugh along with Neil. Riley watched the action intently, following the ball as it zipped around the court.

The Ajax players had a come-from-behind victory that included lots of goals and lots of rough fouls and physical contact. It was very entertaining - and they even had a snack bar in the little arena. If I don't get to spend 40-some nights a season in Verizon Center cheering for the Washington Capitals anymore, at least I have a little handball to entertain me. Our next goal is to see the more professional team AG Kobenhavn in action.

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