Portable Goals Help Young Kiwi Handballers Prepare For The Future
Inflatable handball goals from Wellington’s Packaworld International are helping handball grow in Auckland. Credit: Auckland Region Handball.
Young Aucklanders have growing aspirations to put New Zealand handball on the world stage. To develop their skills in the Olympic sport, they are using innovative inflatable goals that allow them to train where and when they want to.
Over the past year, Auckland Region Handball has purchased 10 portable Handball Packagoals from New Zealand sport innovations company Packaworld International for use at open days and to support a youth development programme in Auckland schools.
Auckland Region Handball Vice President Qassim Helal says the fast-growing sport is immensely popular overseas and provides opportunities for young New Zealand players that more established sports such as rugby and cricket cannot. By participating in an emerging sport such as handball, more Kiwi players can find opportunities to excel and represent their regions and country, Mr Helal says.
“We wanted to provide an option for kids to enjoy a sport that is in the Olympics and provides opportunities to travel. A lot of Kiwi kids want to make the All Blacks but there are only so many spots. Handball gives them an opportunity to shine.”
Handball is established in Wellington and Christchurch but has not traditionally had large player numbers in Auckland, despite it being New Zealand’s largest city. Mr Helal says Auckland Region Handball recognised this and responded last year by launching the Auckland Handball youth development programme, which attracted 60 young players aged 14-17 years. That number has since grown into the hundreds and the programme now has 16 schools signed up, with expressions of interest from 14 more.
He says the interest in the sport means Auckland may soon be able to set up an inter-school league, prepare for a new national youth tournament and even develop players for New Zealand’s national team, which competed in its second ever Asian Men’s Handball Championship when it went to Kuwait in January, prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Helal says the new inflatable Packagoals provide Auckland Region Handball with a way to grow the sport in schools because they are portable enough to move from location to location.
“In previous years we used goals that were not inflatable. They were okay but they were not as sturdy as the Packaworld goals. The Packagoals stand up to impact and hard shots, plus they are easy to move around and set up.
“The goals also add professionalism to our programme. When the coaches can bring real goals along, the players feel like they are playing the sport in a realistic environment.”
Packaworld CEO Peter Roberts says while COVID-19 restrictions have created issues for some sports and delayed leagues, the players have had handball to look forward to after lockdown.
Mr Roberts says he is proud to see the goals used to grow the sport in New Zealand and hopes the equipment will put New Zealand handball on a solid footing so it may someday grow to compete with European nations such as Norway and Germany where handball is the second most played sport after football.
“Helping people play the sports they love is incredibly satisfying. It’s great to see NZ handball players building their sport, and I’m glad the Packagoals could make it possible. I’m always amazed to see what happens when you put passion together with a bit of innovation.”
He says Packaworld has also recently supplied Packagoals to the New Zealand Handball Federation, which aims to have 5,000 Kiwi players registered within the next five years. If this goal is achieved, it will make handball one of the country’s fastest growing sports.