Host city Malmö creating long-term benefits for community

21 Jan. 2023

Host city Malmö creating long-term benefits for community

The Swedish city of Malmö is one of the nine 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship host cities, with the Malmö Arena hosting the matches of Preliminary Group H and Main Round IV.

From 13 until 23 January, across six matchdays featuring 15 matches, Denmark, Belgium, Tunisia, Bahrain, Croatia, Bahrain and the United States of America have had a chance to experience the third largest city in the Scandinavian country, which lies just 45km across the impressive Øresund Bridge from Denmark.

But like so many host cities and towns of IHF events, there is more going on than just the world’s best handball athletes competing on court for 60 minutes.

The city of Malmö is working within the framework of the UN’s Agenda 2030 global goals to create a sustainable world championship that provides long-term effects. 

With this in mind and using its time on the global handball stage, the City of Malmö has focused on numerous activities related to the championship.

And the sport of handball is involved throughout, with various initiatives including healthy living, developing leaders within schools and handball association life and much more, in co-operation with the Swedish Handball Federation.

Para handball with training sessions, matches and a regional para-handball camp and tournament also featured, as well as special meeting places and fun zones for young people to be part of the event without having to buy a ticket.

These areas included playing video games, taking photos, practising handball skills, and doing various crafts. Pop-up events were also held in the city ahead of the championships.

All these opportunities aim to make children more active, encourage their interaction and help them to lead a more active leisure time with a sense of belonging and community.

One such event took place at the Malmö Arena on 19 and 20 January. The school project ‘Hand the Ball’ was celebrated as part of the ‘Small World Championship Day (‘Lilla VM-dagen’) festival.

1,400 pre-registered schoolchildren aged 8-12 from 20 schools in socially-disadvantaged areas attended the two-day event, where children played mini handball in mixed teams as well as trying different activities.

The school classes were assigned a four-hour schedule, rotating around seven stations with mini handball courts and different activity areas. 

“We had two fantastic days with the schools, with lots of joy in movement and great energy from the participants, which included the school students visiting the event area,” said Mikael Wigsten, Event Project Manager for the City of Malmö, to

“This type of event is important for the city of Malmö, which works hard for inclusion and the joy of movement for children. We want to be able to offer the children who visit us a way into organised handball and our local handball clubs have prepared to welcome many new handball players.

“It’s also a way for us to spread the championship feeling to the children and young people who may not have the opportunity to buy a ticket to the Malmö Arena. They should also be able to take part in the championship and hopefully get memories for life.

“It’s a fine example of how we, as a host city, can create a legacy in connection with big international sport championships.”

Also in attendance were IHF 1st Vice President Joël Delplanque and IHF Treasurer Anna Rapp in their roles as Poland/Sweden 2023 IHF Representatives.

“I was happy in my heart to see all the children taking part,” said Rapp to about the event. “It was important to attend to see what is happening around the World Championship and to show our support and interest.

“We received information about how Malmö is working and about their future projects and arenas, as well as learning about the ‘Hand the Ball’ project involving former Sweden men’s coach Ingemar Linnéll.

“Joël had many questions regarding the Swedish system with sport in schools after the meeting, as we can all learn from each other, plus here was a chance to throw some balls myself,” added Rapp, who was voted the best Swedish player in 1999 and is a former coach of the Sweden women’s junior national team.

“It’s important for host cities to have something more than just world-class handball in the arena for a few weeks, so the word ‘legacy’ is the correct one.

“A lot of kids will for sure start to play handball after this easy way in – they are seeing star players on TV and at the arena, then get the opportunity to try to play themselves.

“Hopefully, this means a lot of kids will start to play team sports, which gives them sporty friends, good values and good health.”

You can find more information about the project and events here.

Photos: Malmö City