NewsTeam Handball News

USA Team Handball Wheelchair National Team Launched; Accepts Wild Card to Upcoming World Championship

by Matthew Collins

(Colorado Springs, June 6, 2024) - USA Team Handball, a member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, is excited to announce the establishment of the U.S. Wheelchair National Team, the newest milestone in USATH’s mission of providing opportunities for United States athletes to compete internationally and growing the sport of team handball for all.

The creation of the Wheelchair National Team was finalized after months of internal planning, analyzing the long-term sustainability and predicted success of this new national team, adding to the collection that USA Team Handball oversees as the national governing body in the United States. 

As the adapted athletics space in America continues to expand and grow, USA Team Handball envisions integrating into this community, and offering high-level athletes the chance to represent their country on the global stage. 

“We are thrilled to launch this project as a cornerstone in our mission to make handball accessible to everyone,” Martin Branick, USA Team Handball’s CEO, said. “Our efforts extend beyond this initiative, but I am confident that the wheelchair handball program and its athletes will inspire many.” 

The first tournament on the calendar for the Wheelchair National Team will be the 3rd IHF Wheelchair Handball World Championship, set to be held from September 16th to 21st in Cairo, Egypt. After submitting a comprehensive letter expressing interest in participating in April, the United States was unanimously awarded the available wild card slot for the tournament at the International Handball Federation Council Meeting on April 16th. 

In the eight team tournament, the United States will be joined at the tournament by hosts Egypt, India, Japan, France, Portugal, Chile, and Brazil. Brazil won the 1st Wheelchair Handball World Championship in September 2022 which was played with four-a-side, while Portugal became World Champions in the six-a-side edition played later that year. The tournament in Egypt this September will be played with four players, per team, on the court at one time.

“I also want to express our gratitude to the IHF for their belief in this project and their support as we embark on this journey,” Branick added.

While Wheelchair Handball shares many similarities to the able-bodied version, several distinct nuances set it apart. The matches will be played on a court with the same dimensions as any indoor handball court, but the match will be played over two ten minute halves and with a goal that is 3 meters by 1.7 meters. In addition, the goal’s catch net will be removed in the interest of safety, avoiding getting tangled in the athlete’s wheels.

Furthermore, two points are awarded for creative or spectacular goals, for example, after a player scores directly after making a 360º turn in their wheelchair, or when an athlete scores from a 7 meter throw.  

Each athlete will be classified based on their disability prior to competition and assigned a corresponding class (1, 2, 3, or 4). Twelve is the maximum number of points allowed on the court, collectively, by the four athletes. Resin will not be used and all violations and fouls are handled according to the rules of the game for Beach Handball.

More information about the tournament from the IHF can be found HERE.

The Rules of the Game for Four-a-Side Wheelchair Handball can be found HERE.

We are thrilled to launch this project as a cornerstone in our mission to make handball accessible to everyone.
Martin Branick, USATH CEO