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West Jordan Journal

Team handball takes hold in Utah with first-ever tournament

Sep 08, 2022 02:19PM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected]

Team handball is a game that is a mixture of soccer and lacrosse. And, like the name states, it’s a team sport with two teams of seven players each (including the goalie) attempting to pass the ball using their hands and shoot it into the opposing team's net. The team that scores the most goals wins.

And for team handball enthusiasts, Massif Handball SLC is organizing a tournament in Salt Lake City this month.

“I was attending college at Auburn and a friend of mine introduced me to the game,” Massif Handball SLC member Patrick Halladay said. “It turns out that my first time was a tryout for the U.S. Olympic team. I wasn’t that good, but I learned how to play and now I really enjoy it.”

Auburn University in Alabama has one of the largest team handball clubs in the country. Only a handful of colleges have organized clubs including the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy (West Point).

The Salt Lake handball club consists of about 30 members. They practice three or four times a month and have begun traveling to play in tournaments.

“I am from Guatemala and I played for the National team there for about 12 years,” Sofia Broadhead said. “When I came to Utah in 2016 I started looking for a club. The sport is growing in Central America, Brazil, and even here in this country.”

“I started playing in Brazil when I was 12 years old,” one of the club organizers Andre Rammi said. “Our practices are open, anyone can come and join. We want people to understand the game. We have several that have never played before.”

A small group of players played in the USA Team Handball Open National Championships in May. The local players combined with a team in Los Angeles to be able to participate.

“Now we want to represent Utah. We would like everybody to get to know this sport. We are hosting a small tournament next month with a few teams,” Broadhead said.

The Uintah Cup is scheduled for Sept. 24-25 at the Utah Soccer Arena, 1475 S. 700 West. There will be men's and women's divisions. The Air Force Academy and a team from Denver will take part in the men's division. The women's division includes a Los Angeles-based team and a team from San Francisco is scheduled to compete.

“It will be held on Saturday and Sunday,” Rammi said. “People see this game in the Olympics and they come out and join with us. It is growing in this area.”

“Some of my friends are from different countries. It is a new game here, but in other countries, they teach it in schools. The game is very popular in Europe. That is why they always win. There is also beach handball. It has different rules,” Broadhead said.

Luke Nguyen, originally from Vietnam but graduated from Kearns High School, is a member of the U.S. men’s beach team. He started playing team handball when he was 12 years old. After he moved to Utah when he was 16 he was a part of the U.S. Youth National Team. He started playing beach team handball in 2015. He was the most valuable goalkeeper in 2016 and was a coach of the 2019 Pan Am Games team. He still lives in Salt Lake City.

Hannah Ross from Pocatello, Idaho is also a member of the women’s beach national team. She has participated with the Salt Lake City club at times.

Team USA is working to establish a college national championship and the U.S. National team recently qualified to participate in the next World Cup.

“This is a game that can help you develop new skills and improve your athleticism. It can help you improve your abilities in other sports,” Rammi said.

“This club is a family affair. They all bring their kids and we have lots just learning to play,” Halladay said.

For more information visit the team's Facebook page Massif Handball SLC.