All hands on deck for Aussies

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The Australians are here to play one-wall handball.

To them, the four-wall version barely exists. This despite actually having hosted a world championship in 1988.

"We had four-wall courts in Victoria - a state in Australia - where an American health club came down and built them," said Australian Bob Winter, 56. "However, we'd been so used to three-wall, we were never able to acclimatize to the game with the exception of a few people. And those few were never able to sustain the game.

"It was very hard to convert and it just suffered and died."

Down Under, the main version of the game is three-wall handball. One-wall is played in the off-season.

Regardless, Australia is one of a handful of nations represented at the 2006 Waterford Crystal World Handball Championships, which got underway yesterday in Sherwood Park.

"We've been playing one-wall handball for at least eight or nine weeks back home," said Australian Mick Kiley, 58. "In the summer we play three-wall, then in the winter we'll play one-wall."

Yesterday Kiley and Winter won their opening match over a pair of fellow countrymen.

The two will only take part in the one-wall version of the 2006 Waterford Crystal World Handball Championships before heading to the United States to take part in three-wall events.

"We don't get any four-wall exposure in our state," Kiley said.

"We won't be playing four-wall here, it's too foreign to us."

Actually even the one-wall game differs in Australia, where their court dimensions are bigger.

It's been a slight adjustment playing here at the world championships.

"This is a fairly restrictive court," Kiley said. "So accuracy is a big thing. But even in the three-wall game accuracy is important."


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