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
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,”
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
“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
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.