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Can Filipino youth be successful in a Europe-originated sport like handball? The answer is a big “Yes”, says Filipino Australian handballer Bevan Calvert.
Bevan should know.
After all, even at a very young age, he has already re-written handball’s short history in Australia, so to speak, with his achievements in the sport.
In our books, Bevan has achieved a number of ‘firsts’ in handball in Australia.
* He was selected to be in an Australian national team at the age of 17 years.
* He was named Handball Ambassador in the Prime Minister Olympic and Paralympic Challenge.
* He was selected as team captain and led Australia’s national men’s team to win the 2012 Oceania Region World Championship Qualifier with the two matches having identical score of 31:10.
* He was awarded the Top Goal Scorer Trophy at the close of the tournament.
* He has also been playing in handball leagues overseas – three years in Denmark and now on his third year in Germany.
“Virtually anyone can play. You don’t have to be a towering giant,” writes Handball Australia, adding that “rules are virtually the same for men’s and women’s handball. Only the size of the ball is different. For children, the ball is smaller and lighter.”
True, when playing for his German team, TSV Altenholz, Bevan has to play against taller handballers. But in his outings, he could outclass taller and bigger players and he now ranks among the top goal scorers in his team.
“Handball is one sport where height, although important, is not a pre-requisite. Also, strength, although important, is also not a pre-requisite,” said Bevan, adding that there is always a position in handball for a player. Bevan is 169 cm tall.
In handball, each team has 12 players and seven can play at a time. A player can be assigned as a left wing, left back, centre back or playmaker, right back, right wing, pivot, or goalkeeper.
“Agility and fast acceleration to produce explosive movements for a goal are two most critical requirements that a handballer should possess,” said Bevan.
We personally witnessed what Bevan meant by “explosive movements” when during the first qualifier match last Friday June 22 between Australia and New Zealand, the first two goals of the match were scored by him during the first 5 minutes of the match.
Will we ever see handball being taken up as a sport by Filipino Australian youth?
Two weeks ago when Bevan was named team captain of the Australian national men’s handball contingent, father of Australian handball Sasha Dimitric said:
“I hope the Filipino community will recognise what progress Bevan has made and may be we can have some of your countrymen to join us in handball.”
Mr Dimitic introduced handball to Australia in 1985.
When Bevan and his family last week called on the Philippine consulate, Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis expressed her hope that Bevan’s story will inspire the Filipino Australian youth to emulate him in whatever sports or endeavours they want to pursue.
She also highlighted the big strides in various fields that overseas Filipinos and those of Filipino heritage are making in their adoptive countries.
Consul General Louis also wondered if there is merit of introducing handball to the Filipino Australian youth by holding handball clinics and social tournaments.
With a role model like Bevan Calvert, the consul general’s suggestion can be the basis in charting the future of handball among Filipino Australians.
And from what we gathered, initiatives have already started.
Last May, Handball Australia media officer Violi Calvert and NSW Handball Association Junior Development Officer Claire Dennerley, a handballer herself, kicked off a campaign in a radio talk show for youth participation.
In their campaign, Handball Australia also reported the recently concluded NSW Schools’ handball championships which were won by Turramurra High School for female division and Sefton High School for male division.
Still unconfirmed, Filipino Australian youth played for the St Marys Senior High School that gained 5th place at the conclusion of the schools championships.
“Information and invitations for the 2013 NSW Schools’ Championships will be distributed in early December 2012,” wrote Ms Dennerley who also invited those who played at the schools championships to join a club.
“Selections for the NSW U21s, U18s, U16s and U14s representative teams will be made later in the year,” she added.
Information about Handball Australia and upcoming events are available here.