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Handball

Handball is one of the newest sports to gain popularity in Belarus, with squads already achieving great success at international competitions.

The first handball match was held in Belarus on May 9th, 1956. The first official tournament was launched within a year: the Minsk Championship, in which twenty men's teams and seven women's took part.

Later Belarusian men's and women’s teams, under the identical name of Burevestnik, took part in the Soviet Championship, with the first match held in 1962.

It was only in the 1980s that Belarusian handball really took off, when Minsk SKA (formerly Burevestnik) received a new coach – Spartak Miranovič.

Age of Spartak Miranovič

Under the leadership of Spartak Miranovič, SKA became the strongest not only in Belarus and the USSR, but worldwide. From 1980 until 1992, Belarusian handball players won six Soviet Championship titles, and took silver five times, as well as one bronze. The team won the USSR Cup three times.

SKA also won the European Cup three times (in 1987, 1989 and 1990), and the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup twice (in 1983 and 1988), as well as the Europe Super Cup once (1989).

Unfortunately, the collapse of the USSR damaged Belarusian handball, with our clubs remaining long without victories. Only in 2013 did SKA-Minsk win a European trophy again: the Challenge Cup, again under Spartak Miranovič.

Belarusian handballers were at their peak in the 1980s, with Spartak Miranovič at the helm from 1986 through until 1992. The Soviet handball team won gold at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, with five Belarusians taking part: Aliaksandr Karšakievič, Juryj Šeŭcoŭ, Hieorhij Svirydenka, Aliaksandr Tučkin, and Kanstancin Šaravaraŭ. The unified team of the CIS also won the Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona, featuring Belarusians Michail Jakimovič, Andrej Barbašynski, and Andrej Minieŭski.

Most recently, the handball team of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus (based on SKA-Minsk) has done well, taking the World Championship silver, among military men, in 1998, and gold in 1999.

In 2000, the men's national team (including SKA-Minsk players) won the first ever European Beach Handball Championship, under Miranovič’s coaching.

Star-class Siarhiej Rutenka

The brightest star of modern Belarusian handball is Siarhiej Rutenka: one of the strongest handballers worldwide. Having begun his career with Arkatron, in Minsk, he moved to Slovenia. He took Slovene citizenship and played forty matches for its national team. He then concluded a contract with one of the strongest clubs in the world: Spanish Ciudad Real (2005). In 2009, he joined Barcelona, for a transfer fee of 1.2 million Euros: a record in the history of handball.

Sergey Rutenko. Photo by: handball.by

In January 2008, Siarhiej Rutenka declared his desire to return to the national team of Belarus. For this purpose, he endured an enforced three-year ban (dating from his last match for the national team of Slovenia). Finally, in September 2010, he joined the national team of Belarus. In November of 2011, he became captain.

Siarhiej Rutenka is a four-time champion and triple holder of the Slovenia Cup, as well as the six-time champion and holder of the Cup of Spain. He has played for the winning team in the EHF Champions League five times: with Celje in 2004; with Ciudad Real in 2006, 2007 and in 2009; and with Barcelona in 2011. He has twice been named best bombardier within the Champions League, in 2004 and 2005.

Revival of traditions

After the collapse of the USSR, handball suffered in Belarus. Revival began once Uladzimir Kanaplioŭ took over as head of the Belarusian Handball Federation. He supported SKA in its revival, while creating Dinamo-Minsk, which has repeatedly performed in the EHF Champions League.

Matches between Belarus’ best clubs continue to draw full houses and are broadcast live on national television. The men’s national team took part in the European Championship in 2014.