Edmonton’s handball community may be small, but it’s mighty.
A quartet of Edmonton-area athletes helped Canada’s National Women’s Handball Team qualify for the 2023 Pan American Games.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to train for how long we train and to have the opportunity to accomplish something for your country. You are filled with pride,” said the Team Canada goaltender. Teodora Bosonea.
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Haven Wong, Katya Chan, Teodora Bosonea and Maksi Pallas helped Canada beat the United States in two games last week to qualify for the big international event.
“We were all in sync. We were all on the same page and it was really wonderful to see our growth over the past four years,” said Team Canada left-back Katya Chan.
“It was very surreal,” said Team Canada left-winger Haven Wong. “I think Katja and I had experience in last qualifying, we played USA before, it was good to be able to come back stronger this time and be able to win against them, maybe not dominant way but by a good track.”
Wong, Chan and Bosonea started playing handball when they were students at Harry Ainlay High School. Bosonea is a few years older, while Wong and Chan were in the same class and have played together since they started the sport.
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The opportunity to represent Canada together made the experience even more special.
“Moving from Ainlay’s junior handball team to the senior women’s national team is not even something I would have dreamed of,” Chan said.
“It’s one of those things that makes the sport so unique, it’s such a small community here, so to be able to go with people we’ve played against, people we’ve played with, is very surreal. It’s amazing,” Wong said.
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There were challenges for the athletes as they competed at the highest level of the sport.
“A lot of other countries have professional players, where they don’t do anything but handball,” Wong said. “Our whole team is made up of students, we have our own careers, we have to fund our own way.”
The quartet does not receive any funding as a member of the national team. While Pallas plays handball in Germany, Wong, Chan and Bosonea trained on their own and played in a local league where they train once a week and play one game a week with their respective teams.
“It’s just our work ethic that gets us there, because training once a week isn’t ideal, so we make the most of those 90 minutes on the pitch and then the rest of the time we do efforts to get stronger and faster,” Chan said.
The efforts of the local athletes have already paid off and they will continue to work hard in preparation for the Pan Am Games next fall.
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