IOHA Return to Handball Protocols Published.

The Irish Olympic Handball Association has published its return to handball protocols ahead of the traditional start to the indoor handball season.

Following the release of the Governments Road Map for the easing of restrictions due to the lockdown which were introduced in March the Covid-19 subcommittee of the IOHA Board began the task of drafting the protocols which would see the safe return of handball in Ireland.

The 1st requirement was for Senior Clubs to nominate a Covid-19 officer who would ensure that club adhered to the protocols, these officers underwent online training devised by Sport Ireland.

The Protocols that have been approved by the Irish Governments Return to Sport sub committee are available to view below.

In 2020 the Irish Olympic Handball Association is introducing the following mandatory and recommended modifications for all junior and senior handball training sessions and matches.
These protocols have been put together by the IOHA and pay particular attention to the Government’s DATE principle.
DATE stands for Distance, Activity, Time, and Environment. In a sport context this means:
Distance: Stay 2 metres away from others where possible.
Activity: Wash hands. Do not share sports equipment. Arrive ready to play and leave immediately
Time: Be conscious of the length of time spent with another person(s) playing sport. Limit where possible.
Environment: Bear in mind that poorly-ventilated environments are riskier spaces than outdoors

All clubs should comply in full with the mandatory modifications as set out below, and are strongly advised to follow the additionally recommended best practice modifications, for the safety of all players, officials and spectators.
Failure to comply with these Covid-19 Protocols for Handball Training Sessions and Matches may result in sanctions being applied by the IOHA.

• Each team is required to have (at every event):
o Hand sanitiser – to disinfect hands.
o Anti-bacterial wipes (dry wipes and antibacterial spray are also acceptable) – to clean equipment
o Bin bags – to dispose of used cups, masks, tissues etc. safely.
• All team and game equipment is to be cleaned immediately before and after every training and match session, and at half time during matches – includes goals, balls, substitution area benches, official’s tables, score & time keeping equipment, and Time-Out cards etc.
• Use of sticky/tacky is not permitted at training sessions or at matches.
• Players must avoid sharing equipment (including training bibs), towels, water bottles etc. Personal belongings and equipment must have adequate separation on the side-line to avoid cross-contamination.
• Match day equipment:
o Team benches should be extended to allow for social distancing in the substitution areas.
o The home team must supply 3 match – quality balls for each game. Match balls should be clean and in line with EHF/IHF regulations.
o The Match ball must be changed at half-time and during timeouts e.g. team timeouts, stoppages for penalties / injuries. Ball exchange to be managed by the Referees with the assistance of the table officials. Balls should be cleaned immediately on coming out of play. This may be done by one of the table officials

• Balls should be disinfected every 15 minutes during training sessions.

o No more than two (2) teams are permitted at any one court at the same time.
o No multi-team tournaments are permitted.
o Three (3) or more teams are permitted to use the same facility provided there are no more than two (2) teams present at any court at any one time. If three (3) or more teams are using the same venue for a game, teams not actively competing against each other should not interact
o e.g. Game 1: Team A vs Team B; Teams A and B shall than vacate the hall before Teams C and D enter for Game 2.
o Exiting the Venue: The Away Team should exit the venue first followed by the home team followed by Table officials and Referees.
o If more than one (1) court is present in a venue, the COVID-19 officers from all clubs must be satisfied that adequate facilities are available to all teams.
o Game and training times should be staggered to avoid congestion in public spaces e.g. entrances and car parks.
o Longer hall time should be booked for games to allow for the additional time needed for the teams departing and for the cleaning of match equipment before entrance of the next teams using the hall.

Arrival and Transportation
o All participants must adhere to two (2) metre social distancing while arriving at venues.
o All participants must use hand sanitiser on arrival at venues.
o All participants traveling to an event using public transport or in private transportation MUST follow all applicable Government and Health Authority advice.
o Players, coaches, umpires and spectators are strongly encouraged to travel separately or with members of their own household only.
o Must conduct a daily symptom assessment and remain home if symptomatic in the preceding 48 hours.
o Must adhere to two (2) metre social distancing except when the ball is in play. This also applies to coaches.
o Must follow a ‘no touch rule’, refraining from high fives, handshaking, and all other physical contact with their teammates, opposing players, umpires, and spectators.
o Must not chew gum, spit, lick fingers, smoke or vape.
o Must not use sticky/tacky
o Players should bring individual water containers and refrain from sharing bottled water with other players.
o Players in the HSE High or Very High Risk groups are strongly discouraged from attending games or training.
o Regular hand sanitising is strongly recommended.
Referees, Delegates and Table Officials
• Must conduct a daily symptom assessment and remain home if symptomatic in the preceding 48 hours.
• Must adhere to two (2) metre social distancing during game time except when the ball is in play.
• Must ensure social distancing during all meetings.
• Must have their own personal whistle, stopwatches, cards and pens. Sharing of equipment is not allowed.
• Must not exchange physical documents.
o Team line-ups should be verbally dictated to the table official or written, photographed and texted to the table official. No paper line-ups.
o Requesting a Team Time-out: Green Cards must be cleaned (using anti-bacterial wipes, or dry wipes with antibacterial spray) by the table officials after they have been placed on the table by the team official.
• Must be familiar with and enforce this protocol at all times.

Recommend • Home team should supply an alternative to a whistle (e.g. electronic buzzer) for Table officials
• Officials are strongly encouraged to wear gloves at all times.
• Regular hand sanitising is strongly recommended.
• Table Officials are encouraged to wear face coverings (e.g. a mask) where possible.
• Where Referees chose to wear face masks they are encouraged to accompany any on field decisions with extended visual signals to aid communication.
Mandatory • Are strongly discouraged from attending games or training sessions at this time. However if present against this advice, they must:
o Adhere to two (2) metre social distancing while at the venue
o Sanitise hands
o Wear a face mask.
Mandatory • Participants must not congregate in groups or exchange items following a game or training session and must adhere to two (2) metre social distancing while departing a venue.
• Visiting team must be allowed to depart the venue first.
• Teams must submit a list of event attendees to the IOHA within 24 hours for contact tracing purposes.
Recommend • Players, coaches, referees, table officials and spectators are strongly encouraged to travel to and from handball venues either separately or with members of their own household only.

COVID-19 Officers
Each club shall nominate a dedicated COVID-19 Officer who will have the responsibility for:
• Being a designated contact within their club should the IOHA guidance be updated;
• Leading the implementation of IOHA guidance within their club;
• Ensuring compliance with the IOHA guidance within their club during all training sessions and games;
• Submitting attendance or team lists to the IOHA within 24 hours of every game and training session, in order to aid in contact tracing.

Clubs must notify the IOHA of their nominations for COVID-19 Officer by email before commencing club activities.

Each nominated COVID-19 Officer must have completed the both Section A and Section B of the Sport Ireland on-line training course – see:
While not mandatory the IOHA recommends that all involved in Handball activities complete Section A of this course
Section B of the Course is intended to support those who have been nominated to fulfil the COVID-19 Officer Role in their NGB, LSP, Club or Community Group. And includes specific modules in relation to that role – Responsibilities, Management Plans, Venue Layouts, Dealing with a Breakout, Emergency First aid etc.