National player gives handball a hand in the South

Invercargill policeman Aston Lang is keen to get handball going in Invercargill. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
Invercargill policeman Aston Lang is keen to get handball going in Invercargill. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
The round ball and Liverpool — they go together.

New Zealander Aston Lang fell in love with playing with the round ball when he lived on Merseyside.

But it was picking the ball up and throwing it around rather than kicking it with his feet which captured the eye of the now Invercargill policeman.

Constable Lang is now a New Zealand representative in the sport of handball and is just back from Bahrain, where he competed in the Asian Men’s Handball Championship.

He scored six goals against India, helping the New Zealand team achieve their first international match victory.

Const Lang was born in New Zealand but his family moved to Liverpool when he was a teenager.

A friend encouraged him to pick up the sport as a 17-year-old and having a natural flair for the game led him to represent Great Britain.

"I fell in love with the sport as a teenager and it’s always been a dream of mine to play professionally," he said.

Handball had a growing profile in New Zealand, and was played in some schools.

But it had a huge following in Europe to the "point where when handball fever gets going fans flock to stadiums to support their favourite players getting drafted into the best teams".

Const Lang likened the craze around handball in Europe to what the NBA was to the United States.

He said there was the potential for the sport to thrive in Southland and he was giving a shout-out to the community to give "picking up the round ball a go".

"It’s a fun game for people of all abilities and it can be played indoors, outdoors, on the beach and there’s even a streetball version" he said.

The 30-year-old returned to Auckland about seven years ago and trained as a policeman just over a year ago. With his partner Const Lang has moved to Invercargill and hopes to spread the love of the sport.

Any interested players, aged 15 and above, should contact Southland Handball to get involved.