Holger Nielsen – father of modern team handball

Holger Nielsen was a Danish fencer, shooter and athlete who drew up the first modern set of rules for the game team handball. Various handball games had been played in for thousands of years, by cultures such as the Inuits of Greenland, the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the medieval French, but team handball as we know it today didn't develop until the late 1800s when it became a popular sport in Germany and the Nordic countries – including Denmark.

At the age of 23 years, Nielsen drew up an early set of rules for handball in 1989 when he was working as a gym teacher, but it would take until 1906 before they were published. By then, Danish teacher Rasmus Nicolai had also drawn up a set up handball rules (1897).

Holger Nielsen facts