This week sees the biggest event in the university handball calendar for the year: the BUCS handball championships. As one of the lesser-known sports on the BUCS scene, it is a great chance for universities to come together and showcase their talent on the national stage.
For many competing, it will be their first time representing their universities, following the COVID-19 cancellations last academic year. Therefore, the teams will be hungry for this long-awaited challenge, and will be vying to take home some silverware in the process.
What is handball?
The objective of handball is simple: throw the ball into the opponent’s goal. The team with the most goals after two thirty-minute periods is the winner. With games regularly finishing with over twenty points per side, it’s an action-packed sport that is incredibly entertaining for the armchair viewer and expert alike.
Teams consist of six court players and one goalkeeper. The fast-paced nature of the sport means that substitutions can be made at any time. The court players can hold the ball for a maximum of three seconds at a time before passing or dribbling. As with basketball, however, you are not allowed to double-dribble.
Each goal has a six-metre goal area, in which only the goalkeeper is allowed to be. Although court players cannot step in the goal area, they are allowed to jump and shoot before landing. This leads to some spectacular feats of athleticism as the shooter leaps in order to be as close to the goal as possible when taking their shot. Goalkeepers are allowed to leave this area, but risk leaving their goal exposed to a counter-attack.
It’s also important to remember that handball is a contact sport, which only adds to the excitement of the matches. With players exhibiting speed, athleticism and strength to boot, handball is certainly physically demanding, as well as scintillating for the viewer.
The competition takes a two-fold format: group stages followed by a knockout bracket. After the matches are completed in the two groups, the top two sides from each group will advance to semi-finals.
The first placed sides play the second placed side in the other group, meaning that winning the group could lead to an easier route to the final match. The losers of the semi finals will then play each other to decide who takes home a bronze medal, while the two victors will battle it out for the coveted gold medal.
Teams finishing third or lower in their group will also have the chance to play again against the corresponding team in the other group, creating a full points table to prevent any discrepancies over bragging rights.
With three competitions (cup, plate and shield), the BUCS handball championships promises to be an action-packed affair to decide whether Nottingham Trent and AECC can retain their positions at the top of the handball pecking order.