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Six nations to battle it out at international handball tournament on Rarotonga

Wednesday 30 November 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Sports

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Six nations to battle it out at international handball tournament on Rarotonga
Ready to let go… 19022110

Hundreds of people from several nations across the Pacific will converge on Rarotonga this weekend for the International Handball Federation Oceania Trophy Tournament.

Handball is growing in popularity in the Cook Islands with notable outings on the international circuit.

More recently, Handball Cook Islands was jubilant with the men’s team claiming the bronze medal defeating American Samoa at the 2019 Oceania Championships Handball Federation and Australian Beach Handball Championships in Glenelg Adelaide.

In the women’s tournament that year, American Samoa placed second, New Zealand third with the Cook Islands finishing in fourth place.

This year, Handball Cook Islands has been handed the hosting rights to another regional event.

The federation will be hosting the IHF Oceania Trophy Tournament from December 5 to 9 at the National Arena in Nikao.

The IHF Trophy, which is organised by the International Handball Federation is played annually in the youth and junior categories, alternating each year between men’s and women’s competitions.

Rarotonga will host the Men's IHF Trophy Oceania which also serves as a qualification event for the Intercontinental Phase of the IHF Trophy.

The winner of the Youth and Junior Intercontinental Phase are automatically qualified for the World Championship (Youth and Junior).

The following six nations from Oceania will be fighting for the title at the youth (U18) & junior (U20) competitions: Cook Islands, Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Tonga. The participants will play on a round robin basis in order to maximise the number of matches the teams will be playing.

Handball Cook Islands president Makiroa Mitchell-John said it was not the first time Cook Islands had hosted an IHF event, as the sport, particularly beach handball, had strong support here and across the Pacific.

In 2017, Handball Cook Islands was handed the hosting rights to two regional events.

The nation successfully hosted an Under-17 Oceania meet in May followed by the IHF Trophy Tournament in July and August. 

“We are expecting 200 people here, starting this Friday,” Mitchell-John said.

The tournament gets underway on Monday with games between 10am and 6pm.

Officials from around the world will be on hand, she said.

In terms of the Cook Islands, Mitchell-John said handball was growing its profile.

“We will have the whole world watching, these games will be live streamed.

“This all leads to a better quality of life for our people, to train them for a purpose.

“It’s about seeing the opportunities.”

Handball has a high profile worldwide, as November has been a busy month for the IHF, with national teams in full swing across the globe.

Norway became European champions for the ninth time in history, Angola snatched the 15th continental crown in Africa, while Brazil emerged winners in the South and Central American Women’s Handball Championship.

Twelve teams have already qualified for the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship after these events, with nine sides joining the three co-hosts, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Still, there is one more continental tournament to deliver its winner, with the business end of the 2022 AHF Asian Women’s Handball Championship in the first days of December.

The Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran have already qualified for the semi-finals from Group A, with Japan, People’s Republic of China and Kazakhstan vying for the other two places in Group B.

The semi-finals of the 2022 AHF Asian Women’s Handball Championship are due to take place in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on December 2, while the final and the bronze medal game are also scheduled in the capital for December 4.

The first five sides in the competition are due to qualify for the 2023 IHF Women’s World Championship.

Three rounds of both the men’s and women’s EHF Champions League are scheduled for December, with the two competitions taking a break before Christmas, with the men’s competition coming back in February after the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship.

After Christmas, all the 32 participating national teams at Poland/Sweden 2023 will gather, with Egypt and Algeria going to Romania for the Carpathian Trophy. They will face two teams – Romania and Slovakia – that are not qualified for the competition.