Wall Ball: Australia’s newest sporting obsession?


Most Australians will have fond recollections of primary school handball games. Strategic bounces, angled returns and bloodied knees have been experienced by innumerable young Australians, doing more to hone our gross motor skills than in-class attempts ever could.

Handball devotees will be pleased to learn that that the pursuit – or at least an offshoot of it – is making serious waves in the sporting and media worlds.

Wall ball combines the ferocity of playground handball with the strength and power of adulthood. It basically involves taking turns  with a partner/rival to hit a ball back and forth against a wall, with the first participant to let the ball bounce more than once losing out. There are no umpires, so it’s important for players to keep a keen eye on the lines of the court.

The exact origins of wall ball are the subject of some contention. According to Wikipedia. the game has been around for some decades, with its origins in New York. However, as The Australian attests, the group behind this weekend’s WBI Golden Hand tournament claim to have invented the sport in Redfern, Sydney. The two versions seem more-or-less identical, but perhaps there’s some nuance that we’ve overlooked.

Australia’s strain of wall ball – headed up by the self-proclaimed Wall Ball International TM group – usually takes place in a laneway. Competitions seem to attract hipster intellectual types, as well as high-profile players like media personality Ben Fordham.

wall-ball-playersHaving said this, the competitions draw viewers and players from far and wide, with the inaugural Wall Ball Championships of Australasia expected to attract hundreds of observers. So far, more than one hundred players have registered for the event. About one fifth competitors will be traveling from interstate.

As the Wall Ball International TM YouTube channel indicates, things can get surprisingly intense – and sweaty. The sport is yet to truly take off in the mainstream, but most Australians should be able to pick up the sport with great ease, if they played handball on asphalt back in the day. In addition to this intrinsic knowledge, the publicity being generated around the Golden Hand tournament is sure to bring world domination a few bounces closer.

Registration for the tournament is still open, with observers also welcome to attend.

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