Handball has been amongst the most watched sports in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Games. The sport was second only to football when the Brazilian city hosted the quadrennial event 7 years ago.
Its international popularity notwithstanding, handball remains a very lesser-known sport in India. The upcoming inaugural edition of the Premier Handball League (PHL) will bring about a change in this, believes Shubham Sheoran, who will ply his trade for the Telugu Talons in the league.
"I think PHL will help get a lot of viewership to handball. If you look at it there is a lot of action and speed in the sport which draws in the audience. In the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, handball was one of the most watched sports alongside football," Sheoran told The Bridge.
"In India, people do not know a lot about handball and the league will help in bridging this gap," the left-back added.
Hailing from Haryana, Shubham Sheoran picked up handball while still in school and rose through the state's extremely competitive grassroots program and has gone on to represent India at various international meets including the 2022 Asian Championships and the Olympic qualifiers.
"I was in school when I saw a few kids play handball. There were some international players and coaches there too, who approached me stating that I have a good height and I could be successful very easily," he said.
However, the road was not easy for Sheoran, and he had to fight with his family to continue playing the sport.
"In the beginning, my family did not like the idea of me playing handball. They wanted me to focus on my studies, but I kept playing. I used to fight a lot with them to continue playing," Sheoran recalled.