Main themes: Sports, competition, associations, team spirit, volunteer work

By Ditte, Maria and Lene (Tørring High school)


Handball is one of the most common sports in Denmark. It was the Dane Holger Nielsen who invented handball. In 1906, he was the first to come up with a set of rules for the game. We are three girls and we have all practiced the sport. Because of our interest in the game, we have observed different age groups and genders at “KFUM” in Give and at “Hærvejens HK” in Nørre Snede, which are two handball clubs in our local area.


Rules of the game
During a handball match there are lot of rules that you have to follow. The handball court is a rectangle, which is 40 meters long and 20 meters wide.

In a handball game there are two teams, each with seven players on the field: one goalkeeper and six field players. In the game, the teams take turns defending and attacking. There is one ball in the game and it is thrown between the players of one team. One team scores by throwing the ball past the goalkeeper and past the goal line into the opponent’s goal, while the opponent is trying to stop them. The team, which scores the most goals, wins.

The length of the match and the rules of the game depend on the age and level of the players. The younger you are, the shorter the match. For seniors, a normal game is 2 x 30 minutes. In handball, the ball cannot touch the feet of the players. Only the goalkeeper can block the ball with his feet.

A player cannot take more than three steps with the ball in his hands before he must stop and throw, the ball to another player or “dribble” with the ball. If the player continues to run with the ball in his hand, the other team gets the ball.

A semi-circle surrounds the goals and it is only the goalkeeper who can be inside that circle. If a player, who is in attack, steps inside the circle with the ball in his hands, the other team gets the ball. Also, a player who is in defense cannot defend the goal inside the goal circle. To defend means that a defensive player has to “be in the way” of the players who are attacking, so it will become more difficult for the attacker to score.

The pace is high in handball and an attack cannot last more than one minute without the team in ball-possession trying to score. Therefore, the team always has to at least try to score, and the defending team must try to prevent this by blocking or in other means preventing a shot from the opponents. They can block the ball by tackling the player with the ball. This is allowed as long as the tackle is not too violent. It is the job of the referee to judge whenever the attack has been going for too long without an attempt on goal or whenever a tackle is too violent. The word of the referee remains in force, but often players, coaches or spectators are yelling at the referees because of his decisions.

During a match, the players of the defending team stands around the semicircle in front of their own goal and the attacking team is playing the ball around, a few meters from the other team. On the court, the players have different positions and these are called wing, full-back, playmaker and line player. There are two wing players, two full-backs, one playmaker and one line player on the court. The wings are often the smallest players who are able to jump far into the semicircle and score. The line player is often heavy and strong, because he/she has to make room for him/herself among the other team’s defense. Generally, it is a huge advantage to be tall when playing handball, so the players can jump over the defense and thereby score. To be fast is also an advantage, along with being very strong. The professional manly players are often bundles of muscles and weigh over 100 kilos.


The influence of the referee

Players may be suspended for two minutes if breaking the rules, eg. tackling to hard. If the same player gets three suspensions in one match, he will receive a red card. That means that the player cannot participate in the rest of the game, but he can be replaced by another teammate. If a smaller break of the rules is committed, the yellow card can be given to a player – after the teams has received three yellow cards, the referee starts to issue two minutes suspensions. If a player is acting aggressively, he can be disqualified (red card), but again he can be replaced by another teammate.  A team can get the chance of a penalty throw, then one player is chosen to make this throw. The player has to stand behind a particular line seven meters from the goal, and try to score from there with a direct throw. No one of the other players can block the ball or interfere, except from the goalkeeper.

During a match the referee's word is law. How many referees there are during a match, depends on what level you play. If the level is high, there will usually be two referees. In amateur handball one referee is enough. 

We talked to a 19 -year-old girl, Tina from Give KFUM (YMCA), who told us a little bit about the influence of the referee's influence on matches. She said among other things, that, in their last match against "ØHK Hedensted ", her team was very upset about the referee's influence on the game outcome of the game. The referee was from the Hedensted area, and therefore, the Give players felt, his rulings were in favor of the Hedensted team.

"But we won, however, despite a lousy referee, but it was only because we were much better than the others," Tina explained.


Sponsor and club

A company usually sponsors clubs and teams. The company's logo is usually on the back, chest or sleeves of the T-shirts of the players.  In this way the T-shirts function as advertisement for the company, and the company, which sponsors the club or team, pays for the clothes.

Give KFUM (YMCA) is one of two handball clubs found in the small town of Give. At Give KFUM, both children at 10 years of age and 50-60 year old adults play amateur handball. KFUM stands for Kristelig Forening for Unge Mænd (YMCA, Young Men’s Christian Association), however both men and women can take part in the association. The name derives from a time when two different movements existed: the KFUM (YMCA) and KFUK (YWCA, Young Women’s Christian Association). Nowadays these two movements have been combined into a single movement: KFUM.

The KFUM is not only concerned with sports and there are many other associations under the KFUM, including KFUM Scouts and KFUM's social work. KFUM is part of a global movement. All over the world there are associations with the name and purpose of the KFUM. However, in Give KFUM, it is all about handball, and in Denmark KFUM clubs are often handball clubs. The club also plans social events such as joint trips to professional handball matches and different forms of competitions.

In the association there is a board of directors who keeps track of all this. In Give KFUM all coaches and board members are volunteers, so they do not get paid for their work. It is often possible to buy specific sweat suits at the club, to show that you are a part of the association.

The coach Connie, from this association, says that she is very much into handball, and she is also a former player, but due to an injury in the knee she cannot play anymore - knee injuries are very common among handball players. Therefore she now coaches series 2 ladies along with her ​​colleague Finn.

" It's great to coach and watch the ladies play, that way I feel that I can contribute with something, though I'm not on the field", Connie says. Connie has been a coach in the association for three years and has no plans to stop any time soon.


The Match

We were out watching a handball match in the town of Hedensted between Give KFUM and ØHK Hedensted. There was a great intensity on the field, and it did not take more than one minute before a player from Give scored the first goal. After that, the goals just kept on coming. The person who scored a goal was almost always the first one to be back in her own defense-position.

When we asked 19 -year-old Tina from Give KFUM how this could be, she said that she did not pay attention to such things during the match. "But I would guess that the spirit of the player who has just scored is so high that she has more energy to run faster than the others. You feel a bit superior when you have scored".

Penalties were given to ØHK Hedensted about 5 times, where Give KFUM had to settle with only one single penalty. As mentioned earlier, the team from Give felt that the referee favoured the other team. It was perhaps not entirely fair to the team that the referee was from Hedensted. We talked to the keeper from Give KFUM about this:

"It's good that I'm so good at standing in the way!" said Janni (25 years) laughing. "I had a good day today, but we are usually pretty good." 

At the end of the match the score was 19-13 to Give KFUM. After the match, the team formed a tight circle where everyone participated, including the coach. They all shouted in unison: "Who was it that won today? It was the ones from Give! Hey, hey, hey. We have whacked them!" Janni told us afterwards that if they had played twice against the same team and won both times, they would cry: "We whacked them again".

After the game all players shake hands and say: "thanks for the game." This is done to show respect and remind each other that despite of the competitive spirit, it was only a handball match.