Dr Hermann Brandt

Dr Hermann Brandt was an eminent Swiss biologist. It was through his research into the effects of physical activities that the idea of Tchoukball had its foundation.

In Dr Brandt’s time, and arguably now as well, many sports produced shocking injuries that stopped even the strongest of athletes from participating further. After discussing these concerns in the book ‘From Physical Education to Sport Through Biology’, Dr Brandt presented his now famous paper ‘A Scientific Criticism of Team Games’. This won him the coveted award of the ‘Thulin Prize’, presented at the University of Lisbon on August 16th 1970.

Within this paper, Dr Brandt explored ways in which to construct the perfect team game whilst paying heed to his key concern of reducing injury. The practical expression of his ideas, stemming from his critical study of existing games, is the game we have come to know as tchoukball. This strange-sounding name comes from the ‘tchouk’ sound of the ball rebounding from a tchoukball frame. Dr Brandt felt this would be universally accepted. He died in November, 1972, but not before he saw some of his high hopes realised.

Most games can be traced to humble beginnings and periods of slow development before becoming established as a national and international sport. Tchoukball is no exception. It has taken time and patience to convince people that this unique game is truly a ‘Sport for all’, but now all the signs indicate that the message is getting across. During the 1980s, Taiwan took tchoukball to a different level, with substantial investment making it the 3rd sport of Taiwan and producing consistently over 200 teams for their national championships. Switzerland and Great Britain, 2 founder countries of the International Tchoukball Federation (FITB) – tchoukball’s global governing body – cemented the international presence of tchoukball in Europe.

In Dr Brandt’s original execution of the game there was a 3 meter line in front of the frame instead of today’s well known semi-circle (known as the forbidden zone or ‘D’).

From the beginning the game has appealed to an extraordinarily wide and diverse spectrum of people, clubs, organisations, public services and educational establishments. In Great Britain, the RAF, the Fire Service, holiday camps and schools have all been exposed to the game at some point.

The highest participation of tchoukball in Great Britain was in the early 1990s with many clubs formed around the country playing at a high level under the aegis of the British Tchoukball Association (BTBA) Sadly, due to a lack of co-ordination and the collapse of the World Championships in 1995 many players moved on.

However, in Geneva in August 2000, a World Tournament was held to mark the 30th anniversary of tchoukball’s birth. Many UK players got together and participated. Shortly afterwards, competitive matches restarted in the UK, with players from the East and the South of the country once again reunited. On January 13th 2002, Tchoukball UK was formed. Just 8 months later, Great Britain hosted the World Tournament in Loughborough which was a massive success, bringing together teams from 4 different continents.

The sport has grown exponentially in Europe since the game was revived in the 2000s. In the latest edition of the European Tchoukball Championships (Italy 2018), 8 nations competed in both the Women’s and Men’s tournament. There were also youth tournaments with teams officially competing in Under-18 Girls and Boys and Under-15 Girls and Boys categories. There are also stand-alone annual tournaments bringing players together from Europe and beyond, including our own Domini Fox Memorial Tournament (for club teams), Geneva Indoors (Nations Cup and open tournaments) and TBI Beach TchoukBall Festival in Rimini, Italy.

Swiss Tchoukball has a detailed history of tchoukball which can be accessed here (French). The work has been compiled by Michel Favre, who met and worked with Dr Brandt in the 1960s and have been a champion of tchoukball ever since.