I’d just finished watching a men’s handball match at the Fencing Gymnasium in Seoul’s Olympic Park and as the air-conditioning was making it a pleasurable place to be, I didn’t hurry out afterwards. Strangely enough, neither did anyone else. After a few minutes I concluded that the game we had just watched wasn’t the full extent of the afternoon’s entertainment and so I stuck around to see what would happen next.
What we got was a women’s handball game and just like the men’s match it was the second leg of the Championship play-off and the culmination of a season that had started back in February. As with the men’s game, I had no idea of the score from the first leg and so not only was I watching a game where I didn’t have any real knowledge of the rules, I was completely ignorant as to which team were winning.
What I did know was that the team playing in red were Samcheok as they had their team name on their shirts. Not just Samcheok though, but Wonderful Samcheok. Hmm. I’ve been to Samcheok a couple of times and whilst it’s a decent enough place I’d say Wonderful is pushing it a bit. The team in blue were Incheon, just Incheon I think, rather than bigging themselves with a name like, say, Quite Close to Seoul Incheon.
Wonderful Samcheok lead for most of the game, although as I said, I’d no idea which team was ahead on aggregate. The play was just as aggressive as that of the men’s game that I’d just watched and both teams were well supported.
As the game drew to a close Incheon narrowed the gap and with a big contribution from the best player on the court, eleven goal striker Ryu Eun Hui, they forced a draw. I can’t remember now but I think it was twenty something all.
The main interest for me at this point was seeing which team had actually won. You’d think that it would have been evident from the play with perhaps one team chasing the game and the other time-wasting. It wasn’t though and I had to wait for the celebrations at the final whistle to discover that Incheon were the champions. They tossed their coach in the air, as seems compulsory at sporting events over here, and collected the trophy.
So, after forty-seven years without seeing a single handball game I’d now seen two in an afternoon. It’s not something that I’d probably hurry back to, although with the new season not starting until February it’s something I don’t have to give any thought to for a while yet.