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Date: 8/31/2018

While the 24th IHF Women’s World Championship in Kumamoto, Japan maybe more than a year away with just over 450 days to go until it starts on 30 November 2019, plenty is taking place on and off court as the Asian nation prepares to host the women’s handball world.

Volunteer programme and motto launched
In addition to the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship, Kumamoto Prefecture will also host two pool games in the 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup on the first two weekends of October (France vs Tonga and Wales vs Uruguay) and with the two global events taking place within a few months of each other, the prefecture is looking for a variety of volunteers with the handball aspect called ‘Kumamoto Colors’.

“Kumamoto Colors encapsulates the diversity and bright smiles of our volunteers,” says the Japan 2019 website and all volunteers need to be able to speak (conversational) and Japanese, over 15 years of age (as of 1 April 2019) and can volunteer for three days or more.

Applications can be made online HERE or via post (in Japanese).

The organisers are also offering a 50,000 Japanese Yen (just under 450 Swiss France - CHF) prize to design a logo and character design for the volunteer programme which opens from tomorrow (1 September) and closes on 20 November.

Earlier this month, Japan 2019 decided upon their motto for the world championships – ‘Hand in Hand’.

Trial Event
Earlier this month, over 4,500 fans witnessed the ‘2018 Orihime Japan Trial Games’ which were held in Kumamoto prefecture with free entrance for residents.

Three games were held in Yatsushiro City and Kumamoto City with Danish side Nykobing Falster HK – featuring the first Japanese player to play in the Women’s EHF Champions League - Ayaka Ikehara, Japan national team goalkeeper Sakura Hauge Kametani and right back Yui Sunami – travelling to Japan to take part in some friendly matches.

The first day, at the Yatsushiro Gymnasium, saw high school All-star Teams from Kumamoto Prefecture and Okayama Prefecture play an exhibition match before NFH played local side Omron Pindys, winning 32:28 (16:15).

Kumamon – the Kumamoto Prefecture mascot – was on hand at the match along with the Kumamoto Castle Omotenashi Samurai Crew and the President of the Kumamoto Prefecture Handball Association, with a meet and greet and autograph session for fans after the match featuring players from both teams. anna Lagerquist from NFH was selected as the MVP.

The second day saw the Japan Women’s National Team (Orihime Japan) play Omron Pindys in Kumamoto City with fan events and workshops held featuring Miku Tanaka, member of the HKT48 idol group and recently-appointed Kumamoto 2019 Support Ambassador. Japan won 37:23 with Yukiko Yoshida (Omron) earning the MVP award.

The third and final day saw Orihime Japan play NFH, with the national side winning 24:21 (12:11). The half-time show featured students from Chiharadai High School in Kumamoto City. The students collaborated with Kumamon by performing Kumamon’s famous Kumamon Exercises. Aya Yokoshima was awarded the MVP by Prefectural Handball Association Advisor Minoru Kihara (House of Representatives, Senior Vice Minister of Finance).                     

Qualification Latest
Japan, as hosts, and France, as 2017 IHF Women’s World Championship winners, have already qualified as two of the 24 teams who will play in the 96 games and the long road to filling the remaining 22 places will be starting very soon as the continental qualification tournaments around the world get underway later this year.

The African Handball Confederation’s (CAHB) 23rd African Women’s Championship will take place in Brazzaville, Congo in December and feature Tunisia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Algeria, Angola, Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea and Morocco.

The Asian Handball Federation (AHF) 17th Asian Women’s Championship will take place from 30 November to 9 December in Japan with the hosts lining up against Kazakhstan, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

For Europe, the first steps on the European Handball Federation (EHF) qualification pathway, start in November when the Qualification Europe gets underway, following the draw in Glasgow earlier this year.

Further Information
The Japan Handball Association have set themselves a very high goal for Japan 2019 – that is to “…reach our target of the highest number of spectators at a women’s world championship,” said Kanji Wakunaga, President, Japan Handball Association at the Germany 2017 series of closing press conferences.

As reported back in December 2017, Japan 2019 is set to take place from Saturday 30 November – Sunday 15 December 2019 with three host cities in Kumamoto Prefecture: Yamaga City, Kumamoto City and Yatsushiro City.

In the new competition format, 96 games will take place with 60 in the Preliminary Round, 20 in the Main Round, two Semi-Finals, and the two medal matches (final and bronze), plus 12 in the President’s Cup.

Official Channels
IHF.info will bring you all the very latest updates and information about Japan 2019, and you can also check the official Japan 2019 channels:

Japan 2019 website: https://japanhandball2019.com/