I first learned of Fil-Aussie Handball star Bevan Calvert from newspaper accounts of his successes in the sport. His quote: “I’ll be playing this game until I can’t walk anymore” struck me, as it could only come from someone who has found life’s passion and vocation – a rarity for most of us! His focus and determination has earned him the distinction of being the first Filipino-Aussie youth in a national men’s team, and the Team Captain who led his team to victory at the Oceania Region Men’s Handball World Championship Qualifier held in Sydney on June 22-23, 2012..
Bevan who wears Australian Handball Team Jersey No. 4, was born in Sydney on April 4, 1986 to Aussie father John (a retired Qantas executive) and Philippine-born mother Violi (a freelance writer, radio broadcaster and formerly a public sector auditor and fraud investigator). He has sports in his genes: John’s father was a good tennis player and John and Violi met through social tennis.: Etymologically, “Bevan” is Gaelic for “son of John.” Since they were young boys Bevan and his older brother Tim were already very much into sports and played football [soccer] when they were 6 years old.
Bevan played basketball, tennis, cricket, volleyball and netball during high school and represented his athletics zone in a state track and field relay competition. He was also active in the Students Council and in his senior year was elected Vice-Captain. He was also involved in school stage plays which “showcased his ‘unknown’ singing and dancing skills.” For his well-rounded achievements, Bevan received Faculty Awards, as well as the title “Senior Sportsman of the Year.”
But it was handball that opened unprecedented success for him. His handball team at Turramurra High School won the State Schools Challenge in 2001. Ultimately he reached nationals and represented Australia, from the age of 17, in four World Championships and other international tournaments. For three years from 2006 to 2009 Bevan trained and played semi-professionally in Denmark and thereafter in Kiel, Germany where he plays for the TSV Altenholz Handball Club.
Among his unforgettable experiences was when he broke his wrist bone in Denmark and told to rest from the sport “for so long.” Well, not for long really and it was for 3 months which luckily happened during competition break. Fully recovered from his surgery, he continued to represent Australia in subsequent world championships, the last one being the XXII Men’s Handball World Championship held in Sweden in January 2011. Early this year his achievements in handball had been recognised by being named as Handball Ambassador in the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s, Olympic and Paralympic Challenge.
In the recent Oceania Qualifier, Bevan was awarded the Top Scorer Trophy. He said it was a pleasant surprise as he does not keep tab of goals he makes during the game, and he was in defence in parts of the matches. It will be Bevan’s fifth World Championship when the Australian Handball Team competes in the World Championship to be held in Spain in January 2013.
Asked of his heritage, he said he is proud representing Australia and would not play for a national team other than Australia. On his Filipino side he said he is also proud of his Filipino family and friends and finds Filipinos “fantastic people”. He would like to thank the Filipino community for its support, both for him personally and the sport. He hopes more Filipino youths would take interest in handball and he looks forward to helping where he could, possibly holding clinics in Sydney or on a visit to Manila.. Among his favourite Filipino foods: spring rolls, and pancit. While he eats the Pinoy pork blood delicacy (dinuguan), it’s a no-no for balut (duck-embryo): “I don’t go anywhere near that!”
Bevan’s love for handball is infectious. Today his Mom and Dad are actively involved in the sport. John has been the Team Manager of the Australian Men’s Handball Team since 2008 and Violi has held the position of Media and Public Relations Director of Handball Australia since 2006. Violi is hopeful to explore with the Philippine Handball Federation the possibility of Bevan and one or two other players conducting handball clinics in the Philippines. This could even involve Jay Abiera, another Filipino-Australian handball player who is based in the state of Victoria.
The Philippine Consul General in Sydney, Anne Jalando-on Louis lauded Bevan’s accomplishments and said that Bevan is a “role model for all Filipino-Australian youth.” Indeed, Bevan coaches young teams on his breaks from competition as a way of giving back to the sport that gave him opportunities and recognition. Looking back, he said: “I first tried handball in high school and really loved it. It has given me so much enjoyment in life and experiences I never imagined I would have.”