Mini-handball tournament serves as fun and educational for young students: creates team handball buzz at Washington D.C. middle schools!

Dec. 19, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Jefferson Middle School, in Washington D.C, was introduced to the game of team handball by the collaborative effort, and talents, of Jaan Vanderstraeten and staff from the United States Team Handball Federation and Kid Power, an unofficial coordinator of Project Handball. USA Handball Federation provided the school with the necessary game equipment. Prior to the tournament that was hosted on December 5th, Jaan single handedly went to all participating school sites to teach handball basics, during three to four practice sessions at each school. The schools in the tournament  included one team from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School,  three teams from Jefferson Middle School, and two teams from the Prospect Learning Center.

The goal of the tournament was for the students to learn the game, play fairly, and have fun! Specific individual statistics were not recorded due to the educational aspect of the tournament. Each team played 5 games. The competition was created by teams receiving 3 points for a game won, 2 points for a tie, and 1 for a loss. The tournament was played on a court slightly bigger than a basketball court and a 5m circle. All middle school students played 4-4. Referee T. Ebuwei and J. Vanderstraeten made sure that the students played fairly and followed the rules.

At the tournament's conclusion,  team Prospect Learning Center 1 won gold with 12 points out of the 5 games. Silver went to Jefferson Middle School with 10 points and bronze went to the Prospect Learning Center 2 team in a tie with Jefferson. Both teams had an ending score of 9 points and Jefferson 3 ended with 7 points. The Chavez team concluded with 8 points and they won the Fair Play trophy based off of their determined spirit to win their last game.

This tournament had a large impact on the host school, Jefferson Middle School. During the games, teachers, employees, and other students came to watch and experience handball first hand. Spectators were impressed by the level of agility and physicality that is need for this sport. This tournament not only served as an educational tool for students and spectators alike, but a tool to increase permanent participation of the students. Scouting forms, game rules, and information about team handball were presented in Jaan's PowerPoint presentation to the student players as an additional resource. Two of the school's basketball coaches took interest and learned more about the sport. Overall, the experience was described by Jaan as "wonderful and seemed to have a very positive impact on the host school." All of the students were highly supportive of each other as they cheered each other on during the games. Jaan hopes to create more of these educational tournaments throughout the U.S. because "handball rules the world and I strongly believe it has the potential to be more popular at the youth level in the U.S." Educational tournaments, such as this one, allow for greater expansion of the sport and further participation of young athletes in the United States.