BIG CHALLENGE: Caleb Gahan shoots for goal while representing the Australian handball team.
BIG CHALLENGE: Caleb Gahan shoots for goal while representing the Australian handball team.

Lismore lad in Aussie team to bring handball to the world

CALEB GAHAN, originally from Lismore, has been named in the Australian handball team for the IHF Emerging Nations Tournament starting tonight.

The tournament will be held in Kosovo until next Friday, with Australia coming up against 17 other developing handball nations in an attempt to grow the sport around the world.

"It has been more than a year since we've had the chance to represent Australia," Gahan said.

"It will be great to compete at a high level again and hopefully show the handball world how far we have come in the past two years.

"We have some promising young players coming through the ranks and I think it's great that they get a chance to compete at an international level."

Gahan has represented Australia since his selection for the 2007 Youth World Championship in Bahrain and has developed into one of the senior national team's key players.

His national team career hit a speed bump last year when Australia's spot for the 2015 world championship was reallocated to Germany.

"After the initial shock of our replacement at the world championships there was a definite lack of direction in the squad," he said.

"Not knowing what the next step would be made it difficult to set goals and focus on achieving them.

"Since the announcement that we will be participating in the Asian championships and more recently the Emerging Nations tournament, the squad has been more focused than ever on showing everyone what we can do."

It is obvious from where Caleb inherited his throwing arm - his father, Peter Gahan, played baseball for Australia.

Sports followers in Lismore will remember Peter Gahan from his years spent playing A-grade for Marist Brothers, most notably in 1975 when the team went through a Far North Coast season undefeated, then went on to several more consecutive premierships.

He was named Lismore Sportsman of the Year in 1980 and 1981.

After retiring from the diamond, Peter Gahan moved into coaching, leading Queensland undefeated through the Claxton Shield in 2006 - the first team to do so since 1936.

He ran the Queensland Academy of Sport baseball program from 1994 to 2006 and coached senior and junior national teams.

So what does Peter Gahan have to say about handball?

"It is a very fast, challenging game, with the basic aims of the teams easily understood," he said.

"It appears simple - like many games - but is in fact very complex.

"Excellence requires a high level of athletic ability, highly refined techniques and a clear understanding of tactical issues.

"It is a game that should have a lot more appeal, and I am sure I would have loved to play when young, as it combines a lot of the attributes I enjoyed about other sports."

He is proud to see his son in the green and gold - even though it might be a different shirt from the one he once wore.

"Given the profile and competitiveness of handball in Europe, it's a challenging proposition," he said.

"It's the willingness to pursue excellence in any field, and to do something outside the normal, that makes me most proud."

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