塩中ハンド – Shionoe Middle School Handball

In Japan, there are any number of clubs for the students to participate in after school.  They range from things like table tennis and baseball to art and judo.  Also, the vast majority of students participate, my schools only has one who doesn’t.  The offerings generally depend on the number of students though, which Is why my school is limited to only a handful.  Despite the small size, they have a very competitive handball team, recently placing 16th in the Japan.  Coming from a [male] talent pool of about 30 students, I’d say it’s pretty remarkable, even Hoosierish.  They don’t have matches very often, but I was able to go and see one with Neil when he was here, and am just finally getting around to writing something about it.  Though they lost this tournament in the finals, 2nd place was still pretty good.

Handball is another one of those sports with no real presence in America, but seemed every bit to me like water polo in a gym.  I didn’t really understand the rules or strategy, but like any ball sport with a net, the key was utilizing good movement and taking advantage of mismatches and open shots.  It seemed as if the defenders sought simply to smother the opposing team so as to prevent the shots, often employing the hug technique.  This got pretty physical, often with bodies falling to the floor.  Going to these matches is some good face time for the parents, but it’s also just nice to support my school and see my students.

Here we are on defense, with Tomoki in the goal.

Student Section, mostly the girls team and an alumni or two.  I had a lot of fun with the student section, since I would try to coordinate some of the American cheers.  D-D-D-DEFENSE was a good one, and people were amazed at how loud I could be.  I decided to hold back on “warm up the bus” though.  Good times, I’d like to practice with the girls before the next match, to master a few of them.

In this video you can basically see these exact two pictures in an animated form.  That mouth horn is probably the most obnoxious athletic spurring device, after the Vuvuzela of course.  Another thing to note is what they do after the match.  Rather than the line-up-good-game-hand-touch, they bow to each other, then the opposing team’s coaching staff, then official’s table, and lastly the audience (not pictured).

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