Tired of explaining handball through YouTube, Vikas hopes PHL will help popularise the sport
Vikas Kumar, a defender with the Golden Eagles UP, hopes the inaugural Premier Handball League can be more than just glitz and glamour for the sport.
It's basketball! It's volleyball! It's handball!
How irked would you be if people constantly mistook the sport you play for something entirely different? Imagine Vikas Kumar's plight.
Ever since he started playing handball in his hometown of Haryana, the Indian state which saw the arrival of the summer sport first, he's had to face this identity crisis of sorts.
Every time someone would ask him about the game he played and guessed incorrectly, Kumar would be bound to whip out his phone, open YouTube, and show them what handball was.
"Everyone knows cricket, football. Whenever they would hear handball, they would say, 'Oh is it basketball or volleyball?' They would either mimic basketball's dunking motion or volleyball's spiking motion," Vikas told The Bridge.
"People aren't aware of the sport, hopefully, this league will change that. More often than not, I have to take a handball video out from YouTube and show them," he added.
The league which the athlete is speaking about is the inaugural Premier Handball League (PHL), which is set to commence on June 8, 2023. 15 years after Vikas took to the sport back in 2008, such a franchise-based league has come up, which aims to popularise this sport which, until now, has been a sport played in India's hinterlands.
Why people should watch PHL?
The Premier Handball League will feature six teams, namely Rajasthan Patriots, Garvit Gujarat, Maharashtra Ironmen, Golden Eagles Uttar Pradesh, Telugu Talons, and Delhi Panzers. Raring to go as center-back for Golden Eagles UP, Vikas hopes that the league will popularise the sport he took up all those years ago.
"It (handball) was a bit interesting. Back in Haryana, handball is more famous than cricket. Whenever we used to go out, we used to watch this sport being played a lot, so I took to it," the Indian Air Force employee explained.
The Haryana local further explains, with the same excitement as a child talking about his favorite toy, how the fast game gives the player a rush that not many can give. "Physical fitness is there. It's a body contact sport so you get that feeling of adrenaline while playing," he said.
The defender also delineates the various ways in which the PHL can help the sport by starting a handball movement all across India.
"Youngsters will increase in the sport. Before, no one was playing it. The sport will become indoor, more facilities will be available for the players, places to stay and things to eat. Financially as well there are advantages to this league, and the broadcast is also being done well," Vikas explained.
So why should one watch PHL? "For one, to uplift the sport. When one watches it, they'll know how interesting it is," Vikas concluded.