The Jakarta Post
Indonesia is to host the 15th Asian Women's Handball Championship between March 14 and 23 at the Popki sport hall in Cibubur, East Jakarta, the second time the country has played host to the tournament.
The biennial championship will also serve as a qualifying round for the 2015 World Women's Handball Championship, slated to be held in Denmark from Dec. 5 to 20.
'Since Indonesia is considered an underdeveloped country [for handball], we've been given a chance to host the championship for the second time in the hope that we can popularize the sport,' Indonesian Handball Association (ABTI) chairman Andreas Diantoro told journalists on Thursday.
Indonesia is in Group B with China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Hong Kong, while Group A consists of South Korea, Japan, Iran and India.
Each team will play each other in the preliminary round before the tournament goes into a knockout stage. The cup is jointly organized by the International Handball Federation (IHF) and the Asian Handball Federation (AHF).
A welcome dinner for players and officials is planned at Jakarta City Hall on Friday. AHF executive director Ahmad Abu Al-Lail is expected to attend the occasion.
According to Andreas, since Indonesia is relatively unfamiliar with the sport, his association did not have a specific goal for this year's tournament. 'We hope at least not to finish last,' he said.
Handball is a team sport with seven players per team. At a glance it looks like futsal, but players use their hands rather than their feet to carry, dribble and score goals.
Handball uses a 40-by-20 meter square court, similar to a futsal court. 'A futsal court can be easily converted into a handball court,' Andreas explained.
Indonesia first hosted the championship from Dec. 7 to Dec. 16, 2012, at the Yogyakarta University sports hall, with 12 participating nations. Indonesia finished 11th, above Kuwait, while South Korea, China and Japan won the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Turkmenistan, Kuwait and North Korea opted not to take part in this year's tournament.
'This is an open tournament, so any country can join. There is no qualifying round for the Asian handball championships,' APBTI secretary-general Mustafa Masyhur said.
Andreas said that he would continue trying to familiarize people with handball since it was an Olympic sport, and usually contested at the Asian Games too.
'This is a big opportunity, since Indonesia will host the 2018 Asian Games,' he added.
Aside from the championship, the ABTI also held a licensed referee course from Tuesday to Friday at the Youth and Sport's Ministry's Wisma Pemudi center in Cibubur.