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Handball gains new canadian fans at Pan Am Games

Handball gains new canadian fans at Pan Am Games

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 18, 2015

While men’s handball may have gotten off to be a rough start for the Canadian team Friday afternoon at the Pan Am Games, taking in the action-packed, 60-minute long match was a lot of fun for the fans.

“It’s just a cool sport that you don’t get to see very often,” said Ottawa resident Josh Wilson while watching the first game of the 21-match tournament. Wilson is attending a number of Pan Am events with his friend Tim Poon.

“It’s a great chance to see (handball) at the national level,” he said.

Poon said he wanted to check out handball, which is played by two seven-player teams on a 40’ by 20’ court, because it’s a unique sport and because it’s fun to see teams from across the Americas go head to head.

“It’s not a sport you can normally watch on TV,” he said during halftime. “I hope Canada will pick it up a little bit.

Brantford residents Frank Boerboom and his wife Carolyn came in on the GO Train to take in some Pan Am action, including Friday’s men’s handball opener.

Handball, which was added to the Pan Am Games competition schedule in 1987, was one of the sports that fit in with their schedule.

“We’re just trying different events. We went to tennis all last weekend and we’re going to see basketball tonight,” he said. “(Handball) is great, very exciting. I’ve never seen it before live.”

Boerboom said details provided by the event’s emcee were especially helpful for spectators, like he and his wife, to understand the game better.

Newly-minted handball fan Nick Reed also really enjoyed his first time taking in a live handball match.

“It was pretty great. I thought it was fast-paced and physical,” the Toronto Beach resident said after the game. “I think I came as more of a novelty but I’m leaving as a fan. It was fun.”

Among those watching the game at the Exhibition Centre (a.k.a. the Direct Energy Centre) on the ground of Exhibition Place was Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“I think it’s a fantastic, fast game. It reminds me of a cross between lacrosse, soccer and basketball all in one,” he said during halftime. “I wanted to come see (men’s handball) because I hear it’s pretty exciting.”

Despite losing the match, Tory said he was “impressed” by the Canadian team.

“They put on a very good show today. They tried hard,” said Tory, who was also attending his first live handball game. “I love the game. It takes a lot of dexterity and skill. It’s great.”

Despite Team Canada’s best efforts and a solid defense, the Brazilian men sambaed their way around the Canadians throughout the match pulling intricate play after intricate play out of their hat and usually scoring.

In the end, Team Brazil finished with 34 goals to the Canadians’ 17.

“It was a tough game,” said Canadian centre back Casper Bilton following the match. “(Brazil) is such a good team and we just tried to play our best. We hoped we could sneak in a surprise win but they were too good today.”

Despite, the loss, Bilton said he’s proud of his fellow teammates and vowed Team Canada would keep pushing for wins.

“We’re going for a win every game,” he smiled. “We see a big chance to get a medal.”

Brazilian centre back Diogo Hubner called the win a hard-fought one and praised the Canadians for their strong defending skills.

“The Canadian team was a tough team. It was tough to penetrate their defense,” he said.

At the Guadalajara 2011 Pan AM Games Brazil and Argentina tied for first in men’s handball. The Brazilian women’s squad captured its first World Championship in 2013.

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