One of the fastest growing sports in the world has arrived in the city. Gemma White meets handball’s head guy, Dario Menichetti of the Dubai International Handball Club, to find out more about this fast-paced sport.
As with many good ideas dreamed up Dubai, it all started at Barasti. The way Dario Menichetti, co-founder of the Dubai International Handball Club tells it, a veritable United Nations of handball players and enthusiasts (hailing from Denmark, Germany, Morocco, Lithuania, Italy and France) spent an evening at the legendary beachside bar and the DIHC was born, with plans already afoot to establish an academy to bring in the UAE’s youth players.
‘I founded the team along with a group of ex-professional handballers living in Dubai after a very nice evening at Barasti. All the best teams in the world were founded in a bar,’ laughs the trophy-winning 32-year-old Italian who has been involved in the sport since the age of 11. ‘That was back in September and since then, we’ve made a lot of progress setting up teams for men, women and next up, children.’
For the layperson eyeing the twin simplicity of the words ‘hand’ and ‘ball’ with visions of Vince Vaughn et al whooping it up in Dodgeball springing to mind, think again. Handball is quick and physical, an Olympic team sport which is the second fastest indoor sport after ice hockey. It constitutes two teams of seven players passing and dribbling a ball with the aim of burying it in the back of the opposition’s goalkeeper-protected net.
‘I’ve been thinking about this club since I moved to Dubai in November 2008,’ says Dario. ‘I moved here and wanted to play handball, so I joined a team in Abu Dhabi. But they trained every day like professionals and it occurred to me that we should recognise semi-professionals too, so that people can work day jobs and play handball in the evenings and at weekends. In August I said to myself that if can’t play for a local team then I will set up my own.’ Hence that fateful night at Barasti.
As of now the Hoermann-sponsored club boasts around 80 members with the guys training three times a week and women twice a week. They’re also keen to develop closer ties with the UAE Handball Federation in good time for when the Handball World Championships bounces into Qatar in 2015.
‘Our vision is to open up handball to everyone, so we welcome complete beginners with the idea to split teams up into groups according to skill once numbers increase,’ explains Dario. ‘We want to make the sport available to everyone of every level and age.’ And while novices can thrive at the newly established club, the unfit be warned; with plenty of moving around the court expected, a decent level of fitness will ensure you’re left red-faced from exertion, not embarrassment.
‘I believe sport has to be competitive to make it work,’ says Dario. ‘Even when we’re playing a friendly match, we’re putting together the best team according to attendance and performance. We’re also looking to promote beach handball. It’s very popular in Europe, and with the weather here we expect great success.’
Dhs280 per month. Sun and Wed 9.15pm-11.30pm, Sat 3pm-4.30pm (mixed on Wed and Sat, men on Sun). Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum Al Maktoum Sports Hall (near Safa Park), firstname.lastname@example.org
(050 443 7341).
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