PLAYED on a hard surface with roller skates, a new sport – a combination of basketball and handball – has come into town with the first strategic meeting held under the auspices of the Roll Ball Federation of Zimbabwe at the Elangeni Centre last weekend.
Described by the world mother body, the International Roll Ball Federation (IRBF), as a game that is an hybridisation of handball and basketball on roller skates, roll ball was first played in India and has over the years spread to other countries.
The game is played between two teams, each consisting of 12 players, six on the field and six on the bench as substitutes with the main objective being to score as many goals within a stipulated time.
The Roll Ball Federation of Zimbabwe held its inaugural strategic meeting that had keynote speaker Professor Denis Jones of the West Virginia University in the United States taking 40 delegates, representing eight provinces, through the basics of the sport.
“Roll ball is a specialised, high intensity and exciting game played on a hard surface similar to a basketball court and the reason why we are here in Bulawayo is because Zimbabwe is a strategic part of Africa to introduce the sport,” Jones told B-Metro Sport.
The strategic meeting was divided into two segments; management and technical aspects of the game to give delegates a better appreciation of the new sport before it is rolled out in schools.
Asked if the cost of equipment to play the sport would not be a stumbling block for parents in a developing country such as Zimbabwe, Jones said the costs were reasonable just like most sports played across the world.
“Players need protective gear in a helmet and pads to cover the knees in addition to roller skates, which are a huge component of the game. So in comparison with other sports such as soccer and cricket, roll ball equipment is affordable.
“Kids are already skating either in the streets or in recreational areas so it’s much easier to teach them the sport at a young age,” he said.
Roll Ball Federation of Zimbabwe president Russell Mhiribidi, said they found it imperative to first acquaint delegates with technical and management aspects of the game before rolling it out into schools.
“As a new federation it was important to look at our strengths, weakness and opportunities as well as the growth strategy of the sport before taking it to schools.
“There is also the issue of safety for the players, some of whom will be as young as five years old, thus we thought it is imperative to impart as much knowledge and skills to the delegates because as a new sport, safety for our children is key,” said Mhiribidi.
In the new sport, the ball can be held with one or two hands, even during passes to a teammate and players must make it bounce on the ground.
The ball can be passed, thrown, hit or dribbled in any direction, backward passes are allowed and a player may hit the ball in any direction with open hand.
The ball must cross the goal line completely for the goal to be validated.
In case of a tie, two extra times of five minutes are added with a two minute break in between and just like in soccer, dangerous actions are sanctioned, first by a yellow card, then by a red card.