The Handball experiment: a great testimony !

“My name is Marie-Alice, I am 22 years old and I am currently studying to become a teacher of Physical Education and Sports. I have practiced handball for over 15 years, today I am playing in 3rd division, and I have coached youth teams (-10, -14, under 16). Apart from handball I have tried many other sports including Rugby at University (Champion of France from 2013 to 2014).

My sister is currently living in Cambodia, I really wanted to visit her, she told me about the Kampuchea Balopp association and I have immediately found the opportunity to travel while participating in social work, moreover, around sport, interesting. So I got in touch with Jean-Baptiste, co-founder of Kampuchea Balopp Although the only sport taught is rugby, Jean-Baptiste, expressed me his willingness to extend the skills of the local coaches. Therefore, my mission for two weeks: teaching the sport of handball to the coaches. And especially for me, to share the taste I have for this sport, as it is unknown in Cambodia.
When I got there, my first concern was the language barrier. I knew the coaches were Cambodians but luckily they all speak English. Louis Thibaut a French volunteer who concluded his mission with KB introduced me to the 4 coaches: 3 boys and 1 girls: Khemrin, Ra, Khemara and Pheary. Their greetings after I explained the purpose of my presence made me release all the pressure and relax. In the end I found myself with people of my age just, as passionate about sports as myself which obviously facilitated exchanges. Cambodia’s two national sports are soccer and volleyball, they did not know at all handball, so it’s very curious and exciting that they have agreed to participate with me in this mission!
The first phase, imparting knowledge and skills to the coaches:
I faced 2 constraints during this first approach: the small number we were (the 4 coaches and myself) and that nobody had ever heard of handball. The use of video was a great help as well as the futsal field we had available. (There are many in the city and the lines are almost the same as those of a handball court).
We started with the basic gestures and rules. To facilitate understanding, I used rugby as a benchmark:
Both are team sports, with oppositions, contact and the same goal: score as many points as possible to win the game. These are sports that are played mainly by passing the ball, you must learn about your teammates and make the right decision to be relevant in your action. You need to run a lot and to go quickly and to take shots. Handball contact is less violent and more regulated which generally achieves a wider audience than rugby. 🙂
The qualities to be developed are nevertheless very similar : Passing, moving without the ball , solidarity between players ( teamsmanship) , support between players ( defensive in play) , communicating by any means (voice glances signals ) , agility , quickness , speed and individual technique .
On big boards, I summarized what we had learned and proposed some basic exercises that we would apply the next day. This first meeting and the coaches’motivation have comforted me in my goal.
The second phase of the training with children:
Every day for two weeks, we worked with children from different schools or NGOs. I had never coached children from such disadvantaged backgrounds or with hearing impaired children and this is an experience I will not forget. All of them, while they had no idea of handball, were very curious and dynamic which really facilitated our task!
I was amazed by their concentration and investment despite the lack of equipment. There were a lot of children, we were constantly thinking about managing our time and reducing their waiting time during exercises to maintain this motivation!
In only a few training sessions, the progress was especially notable at the shooting technique and understanding of team play. (Occupancy of space, individual defense, good decision making, dribbling or passing …). At the end of each session, small games and reactions after a goal scored were really pleasant to see.
After these two weeks, I accumulated a lot of good memories and the positive feedback from the coaches has been a great reward. Although two weeks go very fast, and I regret not having been able to further deepen the transmission, I think this initiation was effective. I hope we can keep on going with handball trainings as Jean-Baptiste wishes. It is certain that handball can find its audience in Cambodia. (I’ve already spotted some talent.)
I would like to thank Jean-Baptiste, Khemrin, Ra, Khemara, Phaery, Steve, Louis Thibaut, my parents and my sister who allowed me to live this MAGICAL AND WONDERFUL experience!!!
I come away richer in experiences thanks to this sport that I’ve always known. Transmitting my values to hearing impaired children and seeing them evolve, it is simply MAGICAL and, again, I’m so happy and proud to have been able to live that!
I admire a lot the coaches who are eager to learn and train and work with such little material.
It made me want to come back for a longer period in order to actually develop handball in this country, and even lots of other ideas!

Kampuchea Balopp would like to thanks Marie Alice for the great job she did during two weeks with our coaches and with all the children we are working with. This experiment really helped us and we will use it to move forward to to develop other handball activities within our program !

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