Following the successes of the Rugby World Cup, international sport returns to Japan, as they welcome the 24th Women’s World Handball Championship. 24 teams from six confederations will challenge for the title in Kumamoto, and the competition is expected to be fierce.
For those unfamiliar with Handball, think football, but with your hands. It’s a seven-a-side sport, split into 30-minute halves. Players are required to dribble every three steps and must not enter the D-zone around the goal when shooting. The team with the most points by the end of the two halves wins.
The favourites for the competition are Norway, who come in at 17/10 (according to OddsPortal). They have certainly lived up to expectations so far, with victories in both of their openings games, against Cuba and Serbia.
Returning champions France also went into the tournament as one of the sides to watch. Unfortunately, they have started sluggishly, losing their opening fixture 29-27 to South Korea despite leading at half-time. They followed up that performance by tying 19-19 with Brazil, but perhaps inspired hope after their domination of China, 46-7.
The giants of women’s handball, Russia, enter the tournament in search of a record fifth victory. Similarly to Norway, they have stunned everyone who stands against their path, winning games against China, DR Congo, Argentina and Japan. Confirming their place in the knockout rounds after just 4 games, they certainly look like a force to be reckoned with.
The tournament will come to a close on the 16th of December. There is still a lot of great Handball to come, so if you fancy something a bit different, tune in to the IHF’s free web-stream. It’s an exciting sport which you are sure to fall in love with!