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Handball Origins and World Handball Council History

Wallball is a rebranding for “handball” to gain international recognition. It’s a sport in which players use their hands to hit a small rubber ball against a wall in a way that their opponent(s) can’t do the same without the ball touching the ground twice nor hitting it out of bounds. Its three versions are four-wall, three-wall and one-wall.

Its origins can be traced back to 1427 when King James I of Scotland ordered a window in his courtyard to be blocked up since it was interfering with his game. The earliest written record of this sport in Ireland was in 1527 in Galway. We can trace the lineage of handball to the Irish and Welsh folks since the 15th century. In the 19th century, Irish players scattered across the globe, introducing the game to other countries. The possibility of international competition did not arise until 1956.

In 1957, two players from America with Irish roots were chosen to cross the pond for the 1957 exhibit. 8 matches were played in a 10-day period, all in different locations across Ireland. The results were an even split. Here’s a brief timeline of the most important events in handball history.

1964 – Players from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the US met for the first World Event in the 1964 World Fair in New York City.

1967 – It was agreed upon that the US rules would be the unified rules for international competitions. Ireland was chosen for the 1970 World Event.

1967 – Canada hosted a handball event.

1969 – A glass showcase court was constructed in Croke Park.

1970 – The showcase court’s design helped make the game much more readily viewed and appreciated by courtside spectators and a TV audience.

1984 – Dublin and Clare hosted a World Tournament featuring a game on the 60X30 court and the 40X20 in both singles and doubles to honor the centennial celebration of the Irish Handball Council.

1986 – Canada hosted the first World Event that juniors and female players were invited to.

1988 – The tournament for this year continued to invite female players, keeping the World Event growth and popularity high.

1991 – Joe Lynch resigned as the national secretary. He was instrumental in getting international handball a sound footing. Lorcan O’Rourke assumed the position of General Secretary of Irish handball and was present at the 1991 World Event in Phoenix, Arizona.

In June 1991, Canada’s Bob Pruden took office as President of the World Council and held this position until 1997, when Caimin Jones of Ireland assumed office.

1994 – France was added to the national teams that met in Dublin for the eighth international showcase of handball

1997 – The World Event was held in Winnipeg, Canada.

2000 – Waterford Crystal sponsored the 2000 tournament held in Chicago. There were more than 70 classes in four-wall and one-wall games.

2003 – Ireland hosted 76 events with more than 1,200 players from 13 countries — all new records!

2006 – The event was held in Edmonton, Alberta.

2009 – Portland, Oregon hosted the 2009 World Tournament with the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Sunset Athletic Club serving as the key venues. More than 1,000 players convened to celebrate the game they love.

2012 – Several venues were used to accommodate more than 2,000 players in Dublin. Ireland’s largest collection of four-wall and one-wall courts were built in Citywest.

2015 – Calgary hosted the 2015 World Handball Championship, where 770 players took part.

2018 – 713 players competed in Minneapolis.

For more details, you may contact us at World Handball Council. We’re more than happy to help you with your concerns.

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