18 Oct. 2019
In 2009, former VfL Oldenburg player Nicola Scholl (Germany) volunteered at a school in Cape Town and saw the various challenges facing primary school students including the lack of sports education and social activities. She decided to do something. In 2013, she founded Play Handball.
Play Handball is a volunteer non-profit that supports a diverse and multi-inclusive sports environment through handball, and to impart self-esteem, skills and knowledge for a sustainable future to primary school students. The organisation reaches students in several ways but mainly through the SuperCup initiative.
Scholl and her team work with grassroots community-based organisations in South Africa to bring handball into primary schools and assemble teams in afternoon programmes. The aim is to reinforce these local organizations through knowledge and capacity building, and work towards sustainable social growth on a grassroots level. They teach the game, hold trainings and workshops with teachers and local coaches. Mixed 10- to 14-year-old teams are formed to start playing.
Community handball leagues are established where then schools host tournaments between the local teams with the winners progressing to the SuperCup to determine a City Champion. Play Handball has established a Cape Town SuperCup with reach to the Wine Lands and West Coast District, and a Johannesburg SuperCup with reach in Johburg and Pretoria. The long-term goal is to crown a country champion.
“Nicola’s vision when she arrived in Cape Town was create something with handball to a place where it did not exist,” said Play Handball Media Officer Ruwen Möller. “She combined that idea of teaching children what handball is with the important intangibles of life.”
A unique feature of Play Handball is students participating in the program don’t just play handball - handball is the catalyst. They also attend educational workshops and trainings that schools may not be providing especially in underdeveloped neighbourhoods. The programme combines handball with teaching important life and social skills including environmental sustainability.
Because of dedicated volunteers, private donors and international partners including the German Handball Federation (and its affiliates) and the “Weltwärts” programme of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the program has seen tremendous success in South Africa. Such a success that Play Handball recently began operations in Kenya with interest coming from other countries in the region.
“The goal is to continue positively impacting as many children as possible through the power of handball,” said Möller.
Visit the Play Handball website for more information and how you can help.
PHOTO: Play Handball