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IHF president predicts bright future for Chinese handball
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14:26, August 21, 2008

Head of world handball governing body Dr. Hassan Moustafa believed that China would become a handball powerhouse in the foreseeable future.

"I am astonished by the Chinese handball teams. It is difficult to establish a good handball team in a short time, but China make it. If they continued to develop China in such an amazing speed, I think they will be one from the top teams in the near future," said Moustafa, President of International Handball Federation(IHF), who was watching the Beijing Olympic handball tournament here on Thursday.

Although finished 21st in the 2007 World Championship(WC), the Chinese women's handball squad enjoyed a strong comeback in Beijing, trouncing Angola and France, 7th and 5th placers in 2007 WC, in their way to enter the final eight.

Competing in the Olympic arena for the first time, the Chinese men's team has been a minnow in the handball world. But they showed great morale and high potential in their Olympic debut.

Chinese handball used to have glory during the 1980s. The men's team claimed title of the Asian Games in 1982 while the women's team cruised to the bronze podium in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

However, huge gap between training level was gradually reflected in the results. From the 1990s, the Chinese national teams never managed to regain continental dominance, let alone breakthrough on international level.

"The main problem in China is that they do not have a large number of registered players. China is a great country and handball is a great sport. We just have to introduce handball to more Chinese people," said Moustafa, who started to run his term in 2000.

According to Peng Ning, secretary-general of the Chinese Handball Association (CHA), China currently has no more than two thousand registered handball players. However, in some European countries, a city alone may have that many handballers.

"It is the CHA responsibility to bring handball to Chinese schools, especially primary schools and also they have to cooperate with national medias, which is the key for promotion of the sport," said Moustafa of Egypt.

Lack of talented young players is another bottleneck for the development of Chinese handball. In most traditionally strong countries players are trained at a very early age. But in China, with strength and height being the priorities, young players are chosen from basketball teams when they almost know nothing about handball. The "second-hand" players have to spend much time on the rules and fundamental skills instead of tactics.

"China need to use the Olympic spirit after the Games. They have already raised the popularity of handball and set up excellent courts and what they need to do is just to keep working. I believe in the foreseeable future, China will turn to a world strong team," Moustafa said.


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