Handball & Icelanders

Handball & Icelanders

Handball is not a well-known sport in the UK. I wasn’t even really aware of it until I was swept along to a televised match in Iceland. I think it was Iceland vs. Sweden in some sort of European championships.

The reasons I’m vague on the details? I was too busy trying to keep up with this fast paced game, whilst at the same time having it explained to me by various Icelanders, who had to keep breaking off to cheer. Or drink beer. Or drink beer and cheer. The whole room was crammed with Icelanders cheering on their team; it was infectious. I was soon whooping and cheering along with the best of them.

Handball is not Iceland’s national sport–that is actually Glíma, a form of wrestling–but it might as well be. It’s estimated that when the national team got to the final match of the Beijing Olympics, 80 percent of the nation were watching them.

A similar number of Icelanders were undoubtedly glued to their screens for the London 2012 Olympics.By a stroke of luck, I managed to get a ticket for the Iceland vs. Team GB match. It was pure luck, thanks mainly due to a ticketing system seemingly devised by the same people who developed the national lottery.

Handball exploded in popularity in the UK during the Olympics, with more and more fans becoming engaged as the contest went on. To find out a bit more, I grilled Ciaran Williams, a Team GB player about playing in Iceland, playing against Iceland and the rise of handball.

Full article here.