CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s not that big on this side of the pond, but team handball is the bee’s knees overseas.
Now, U.S. Olympic officials are hoping to get a hand from the Chicago area to get the sport off the ground here in the states.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reports, this is not the handball played in the little white room. This is team handball, a fast and furious hybrid of several sports. Students at the Rickover High School on the North Side are jumping at the chance to play it.
“It’s football, basketball, soccer, some lacrosse, just add every sport there is and throw it into one sport,” said Rickover junior Marcus Guerra.
“It’s a new sport, a new experience, very active. I love to jump around. It’s just fun. I love it,” said Rickover junior Jonathan Caldero.
“This is a game that is played on what you and I know as a basketball court with two goals at each end like soccer goals.” said Team USA Handball Chief Marketing Officer Greg Myers.
“It’s a game that is quite simple. You throw a ball into the goal, and the only other rules are rules of three. You’re only allowed to take three steps and only allowed to hold the ball for three seconds. Then you have to either pass it dribble it or shoot it.”
Team handball is huge in Europe, and the United States Olympic Committee believes it is ripe to invade the United States. The USOC has decided to target Chicago as the largest area to spread the word about the sport and find future stars who will be the perfect age to make the 2016 Olympic team.
“It’s enormous,” Myers said. “It is the second-most popular team sport in Europe, second to soccer.
“What we are trying to do at Team USA handball is get the game into more high schools. We’ve been targeting specifically Chicago because there is a wealth of talent here.”
“It’s a great idea and I understand the philosophy to get kids young–just glad to be a part of it and glad to be of the right age to be a part of this program. It’s awesome and I can’t wait until it truly expands in the United States,” said Rickover junior William Varney.
Marcus, Jonathan and William are three of just 10 athletes chosen to represent the United States in Sweden next week in the Partille Cup, where 46 countries will compete.
“It’s going to be big. I’m a little nervous. We are new to the sport but we will probably do well while it will be a learning process. We’ll probably come back and be even better,” said Varney.
“I hope to learn a lot in Sweden. Even more than the competition, the experience will be great, being in Sweden. It will be fun to meet new people, have new teammates, new coaches and train. I can’t wait,” said Caldero.
For Guerra, his goal is to make the Olympic team–hopefully in 2016.
“We’re targeting 2016 and some of these kids right here could be playing in those [Olympic] games,” said Myers.