One of Europe’s biggest handball tournaments attracts thousands of participants over Easter weekend – also U14 boys from Viby IF Håndbold.
Over 8000 competitors in 521 teams from all across Europe are participating in the Prague Handball Cup this year. Forty facilities across the city are playing host to the tournament.
At 9:00 sharp, a referee blows a whistle, and a handball match between Viby IF Håndbold and a German team from Lauf begins.
Young teenagers from Czechia, Germany and Denmark are gathered in an athletic facility on a chilly April morning to duke it out in the thirtieth annual Prague Handball Cup.
For the boys, participating in the Prague Cup is a very different experience from what they know.
“The tournament is a lot bigger than what we are used to at home. It is fun and more challenging,” says Philip Sørensen, 13, one of the boys on the team Viby IF Håndbold.
The Aarhus team is indeed challenged by the different playing style and the bigger guys on the German team. Viby loses the match, 15-20.
The boys are visibly disappointed, but the parents who have been cheering on the bench are supportive. The experience is more about the social atmosphere anyway.
“It strengthens the unity of the team. The boys still talk about the trip last year,” says Phillip’s dad, Jakob Sørensen.
The Prague Handball Cup held its inaugural tournament in 1992, only three years after the Velvet Revolution. Today it is one of the biggest handball tournaments in Europe.
Jaroslav Chvalný, former president of the Czech Handball Federation, is currently director of the Cup. “We would like to make people come to Prague, and we would like to make every team feel welcome no matter what level they are,” he says.
By James Niiler and Johanna Maj Varming
Photo: Johanna Maj Varming