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Handballers’ passion for their sport and country

I accepted the role of Media and Public Relations Officer of the Australian Handball Federation in October 2006. Like all the positions in the Australian Handball Federation and the various state handball associations, mine is an unpaid volunteer work. I am inspired by the players’ passion for their sport and their love for their country so I try to contribute to the sport in my own little ways.

My introduction to handball was in 2001, when my younger son Bevan, at the age of 15 years, played handball when he was in Turramurra High School. After THS won the State School Championships, Bevan was selected to be part of the NSW Team and at age 18 years of age got in the Australian Men’s Team and represented Australia in the 2005 World Championship held in Tunisia, and thereafter he has not looked back.

Bevan has received awards from Filipino-Australian organisations for recognition of his achievements in handball. He has gladly accepted the awards with the hope that he will encourage the Filipino-Australian youth to pursue their aspirations.

Playing for country on a meagre budget

Bevan copping an elbow during one of his games played for Australia
Bevan copping an elbow during one of his games played for Australia

Bevan copping an elbow in a game played for Australia

I have been to three men’s and two women’s world championships. For each of those tournaments, I watched how our athletes played with great courage against teams with stronger and professional players. Whereas our players pay their expenses when they represent Australia in international competitions in addition to taking time off work and/or studies, their counterparts are on lucrative contracts. Whereas our teams are put together a month and train for a month prior to their participation in world competition, the other teams generally have played together for some time. Whereas our teams are supported by small management teams comprised of unpaid coaches, physiotherapists, masseuse, managers and a media relations officer, the other teams have fully paid and much bigger management teams.

Despite all the odds and setbacks, our athletes keep going fuelled by their passion for their sport and for their country. They shoulder the expenses associated with keeping fit, attending training camps and competitions to improve their skills. They continue making sacrifices when they are selected to represent their state in national tournaments and their country in world competitions,

For some this passion for their sport and country knows no bounds. Examples include a player selling his car to afford participation in a world championship; another one taking two years to pay off his outlay and Bevan himself effectively giving up a two-year contract in order to represent Australia in the 2009 world championship. There are other stories of heartaches endured by our warriors in the sporting arena. Our players are respected out there as the other teams know what odds they have to overcome to be in the world championships and the courageous way they play right to the end of each game.

Funding does not come easy

Late last year, the Australian Handball Federation accepted an invitation to participate in the historic Gallipoli Tri Nations Tournament to be held in Turkey during Anzac week. The aim of the tournament is pay homage to the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian soldiers who perished in the battlefields of Gallipoli. Needless to say, there is no funding available for this event. The Turkish Handball Federation is covering costs during the tournament and the guys’ uniforms are sponsored by hummel. However, there is still the cost of airfares to be shouldered by the players. Depending on where they are located, players can be up for about $2850 to participate and represent their country in such a historic sporting event. Most of the players are students on part-time employment so this it is a big ask for them to fork out this much in addition to taking time off work without pay.

Bevan during the Australia vs Saudi Arabia match
Bevan during the Australia vs Saudi Arabia match

Australia vs Saudi Arabia match

I tried to find money for the players. If I ask you to name at least three well-known business world figures that I should have approached, I bet I would have requested at least two of them, if not all. In return for an outlay, their organisations would be given due publicity on our website, media releases, interviews and possibly their logo worn on the players’ uniform. So it is really not an “idle” donation or give-away money, but effectively a marketing initiative and at the same time helping a national sport team representing Australia in a very significant event. The significance of the event is appreciated by RSL Clubs; however, their budget for the year has been allocated.

The likely impact on country relations should our team be forced by lack of resources to withdraw also appears to be not appreciated by relevant government departments. The speed at which I got referred to other government departments was neck-breaking.

Still hoping

To be fair, I acknowledge some contribution made by the Australian Ambassador and Consul in Turkey, by a couple of local councils processing what their youth assistance grant allows and one RSL club in Queensland which offered to host and provide resources for a fund-raising bbq.

I have been following up the AHF President’s request to the Prime Minister and the Veterans Affairs Minister, I am hoping to have their response this week. I hope to tell you that they are helping out. So stay tuned.

Bevan in a press conference after the Australia vs France match
Bevan in a press conference after the Australia vs France match

Bevan in a press conference after a match with France

Oh, if you have a company and want to partner our team to battle it out in Gallipoli to honour the ANZAC spirit, send me an email on: public.relations@handballaustralia.org.au. Other information about the tournament can be found on the AHF website ~ www.handballaustralia.org.au ~ which also has a link to the Gallipoli Tri Nations Tournament website.

In closing, let me say that the commentaries in this article are mine alone and not necessarily reflecting those by the Australian Handball Federation.

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15 Responses to Handballers’ passion for their sport and country

  1. avatar

    Romy Cayabyab Reply

    March 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    @ Violi > Bevan is truly a very good role model for the youth on how to excel in things they like most. He is also a source of pride for the Filipino Australian community. Thanks for sharing with us Bevan’s passion and your passion too! – Romy

    • avatar

      Violi Reply

      March 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

      Romy, I would like to thank you and all of the Filipino-Australian media for the support to Bevan and handball over the years over the years. Hopefully, with our combined effort, there will be more of our young people get involved in handball. You see with larger membership, it stands a good chance to get government funding and corporate sponsorship.

  2. avatar

    Michelle Reply

    March 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    great piece Violi. your passion for the sport shines through in this article. more power, Mich

    • avatar

      Violi Reply

      March 30, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks for your kind comments Mich. I caught it from the players. :) I hope you and the others would be able to catch a game or two at the next Junior National Championships to be held in Sydney during 12 – 14 June 2010. Nearer the dates, check our website for the venue and other details.

  3. avatar

    regee Reply

    April 1, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Your piece is such a wonderful read, Sis — those writing skills coming to the fore once again! It’s admirable what you and the AHF are doing to keep these talented kids going, and I wish you luck in your tireless fundraising efforts — I’m a bit amazed that the Australian Govt. does not do more to help promote and support the group. I’ve watched Bevan in action in some video clips, and he’s awesome to watch — what talent!

    • avatar

      Violi Reply

      April 2, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Hi there in Washington DC! Thanks Sis Regee for your kind comments. We get a small funding from the Australian Olympic Committee [AOC] which is composed of corporate organisations. I think AOC allocated $1250 per player and official to cover two years. There are two major events in a year [qualifyer and world championship] and few training camps before these two events. For all these, the players have to pay for their costs so their allocation. This means that the allocation does not go far in so far as covering costs to the players.

      Yes, it would be great if somehow all national teams representing the country in significant sport events receive government funding.

  4. avatar

    Milali Reply

    April 1, 2010 at 4:58 am

    I am in awe at your volunteer work for the group Violi. God knows money is sooooo hard to find nowadays and funding of sports will unfortunately and probably take the first hit.

    That said, Congratulations to the athletes whose devotion to their sport benefits the country in some shape or form. Hopefully, the Australian government can realize the need to promote the sport as these athletes are truly inspirational to the next batch of young people.

    I know you & John are both devoted to the Federation and have so generously contributed your time and effort to be of service. Kudos to you and more power in everything that you do for them.

  5. avatar

    Violi Reply

    April 2, 2010 at 9:51 am

    G’day and thanks to you Miss Chicago! I agree with you Sis Milals that unfortunately resources are tight these days. However, we still see a lot of marketing/advertising dollar being spent and we are hoping that a small drop goes to support the sports and the players. The sponsors’ logo would be proudly displayed on the teams’ uniforms at they ‘battle it out’ for Australia and publicised on our website, media releases, etc.

  6. avatar

    Bob Alipalo Reply

    April 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    An analogy that is befitting to handball australia is the movie of Kevin Kosner “Field of Dreams”…..when the baseball ghosts of the bygone era instructed him to turn his cornfields into baseball ground saying that ….”f you build it they will come”.

    He did and they did.

    Keep up the good work!

    Bob

    • avatar

      Violi Reply

      April 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Bob, NSFA Chairman and Harley Davidson guy! We would keep on trying as we continually get more support from organisations and people like yourself.

  7. avatar

    DD Reply

    April 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I everyone had your spirit Mrs. Calvert, our world would be a much happier place indeed! Hope support will come, especially from governments. Kudos to Bevan Calvert for his courage and determination to be best at what he does. He must come from hardy stock!

    • avatar

      Violi Reply

      April 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Hey there DD! Thanks for kind comments and good wishes for Bevan and team. We are indeed very proud of our handballers. Hope the elections over there in May yield results which would for the good of the Filipino masses. BTW, we’re just here if you don’t know where to put the excess return of your investments from your World Bank payout. :)

  8. avatar

    Violi Reply

    April 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Hello from Chanakkale, Turkey! I have been meaning to do an update on how are Gallipoli campaign is going.

    As you know, there was serious doubt as to whether the Aussies would be able to participate in the historic Gallipoli Tri Nations Tournament, due to the players’ financial difficulties.

    I am pleased that following some publicity by sectors of the media, Bankwest came to the rescue and provided sponsorship which drastically reduced the players’ contribution to the trip. Other financial assistance include funds: from the Australian Ambassador to Turkey and Consul in Chanakkale which paid for one night accommodation and meals in Instanbul; Kurringgai Municipal Council, Randwick City Council, ACT Minister for Tourism and Sport; Braidwood RSL and Woden Hoyts Cinema. The Turkish Handball Federation is covering all expenses during the tournament.

    As of this writing, nobody from the PM’s and the Federal Minister of Sport’s offices has contacted us to respond for our plea for help.

    Another difficulty which affected us was unforeseen and dealt by mother nature – the e15 [eruption of a volcano with 15 letters in its name]. Filo-Aussie handballer Bevan’s first attempt to get here was unsuccessful and full of drama. He and two European-based players are arriving by mid-day. The NZ team will no longer be coming to the tournament.

    For updates on the tournament, please check out AHF website: http://www.handballaustralia.org.au which has diary notes and game reports.

    Thanks for all the support.

  9. avatar

    Violi Reply

    May 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I want to share with you comments on the Aussies’ participation in the Gallipoli Tri Nation Tournament, by Peter Fitzsimons, respected Sports Journalist, author, speaker, etc.

    Source:
    http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cap-doesnt-fit-then-its-time-to-take-it-off-20100430-tz96.html

    Actual comments:

    FIGHTING SPIRIT

    A quick update on the Anzac Day sporting contests TFF has been spruiking. Now, because of the Iceland volcano, the handball tournament between Australia, New Zealand and Turkey held at Gallipoli was severely disrupted. The Kiwis didn’t make it until too late, meaning Australia played Turkey three times. In the first game, we had only eight players (14 required in a squad, with seven on the court at one time) and so got thumped. In the second game, the remaining players (including the captain) arrived from Europe just one hour before the game and managed to reduce the margin significantly. Before the third game, the Australians went on a tour of the battlegrounds and came back inspired, giving it their all. With the just-arrived Kiwis cheering them on – right to the point of calling out Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! – while a thousand Turkish sailors cheered for the home team, the Australian team did us proud, observing the tradition in those parts, which is to go down with great honour, finally losing 30-18. As to the Aussie Rules game played between Australian expats and a local French side in the battlefield of Villers Bretonneux, amazingly the French – who really do have a nascent Aussie Rules comp going in their country – won 18.18 (126) to 15.12 (102). Next year!

  10. avatar

    Violi Reply

    May 4, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I wish to share this link to photos taken on the last match in the tournament so you can see how hard the guys worked.

    The Filo-Aussie handballer is Player No. 4, in the Aussie green-and-gold jersey.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/NZHFphotos/Jpeg02#

    Please note if anyone wishes to use any of the photos, please email me as I am interested to know where they will be published. The Photographer is a Filipino based in New Zealand and requires any use to be noted with: “Taken for NZHF”.

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