Published on May 16, 2014 | by Bryndis Hjartardottir

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UK handball scores support

Football and rugby are major national pastimes in England and the UK, but handball is making an appearance as an up-and-coming new sport.

Players get up close and personal as they tryt o reach the EHA Cup Finals being held on 17th May [Nick Le Mon]

During the London Olympic Games one sport in particular caught the nation’s attention. It is no secret that handball has never been well known in England. However, across northern and eastern Europe handball is an extremely popular sport, played at professional level. In England the sport is still in its infancy with only a few thousand regular players.Facilities are a competition with other more popular and established sports.

So what exactly is handball?

Handball is a sport between two teams with seven players each (one goalkeeper, six outfield players) in which they pass a ball between them to throw into the other team’s goal. A match consists of two 30-minute-periods where the team with the most goals wins. For a person never having heard of handball before it is easiest to compare it to waterpolo without water or like football using hands. Handball is a fast contact sport with lots of scoring. It incorporates a wide set of motor skills like running, jumping, throwing and catching.

 

The University League 

The Association of British University Handball Clubs was founded in 2011 to help promote the Olympic sport of handball to British universities and to organise and run events to support university handball clubs with the eventual aim of being incorporated into the BUCS structure. They organise student competitions throughout the year are recognised as the official British University Championships.

The student championship in March 2014 was the biggest student handball tournament in the UK ever with 700 players and officials who playing over 200 games on 4 courts so it s clear that the university league is rapidly growing.

Unfortunately the UAL has no dedicated handball society, but it is possible to join other university teams or to join the development league that is run by most of the London Clubs. More details can be found on their websites.

EHA CUP Final

This year’s EHA Cup final will be played at the Copperbox arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The event will host 4 finals, the U18 boys and girls, the Men’s and the Women’s final.

“The idea is to hold the 4 finals together to give all the teams a space in the spotlight, and try and make it a memorable day for all players and a chance for spectators to relive the amazing atmosphere at the “Box that Rocks”, says Liz Mayne, competition and event manager for England Handball. “We are of course working hard to try and raise the profile of handball in England, and will do our best to put on a good show. We have always sold tickets and encouraged spectators but this year we will be running a live streaming of the event too on Youtube, so it will be available to a wider audience.”

The women’s final will be between Olympia HC and The Ruislip Eagles. Olympia has already secured the EHA League title, second year in a row and the EHA Cup would mean winning the double. “The EHA Cup is what we have been working for. The Final will be tough, the hall is new to us, having lots of spectators will also be new although our supporters are always there to support us at every game, this time everything will be larger. We need to focus and have our eyes on the prize. The club has never won the league and the Cup, so this would be something new and prestigious for Olympia Handball Club.“ The team has pretty much dominated the league since the arrival of coach Aurelian Gug two years ago. After winning last years EHA League they qualified to the EHF (European Handball Federation) Cup, being the first English team competing.

£1.2m investment

Sport England is investing £1.2 million to capitalise on the new-found interest in the sport. These fundings will help to develop the governing body that at the moment does not currently have the infrastructure to ensure supply meets demand. A programme is currently running designed to recruit and retain players through taster sessions, working with schools, colleges and partners such as StreetGames and Premier League 4 Sport The London teams are currently dominating the national EHA league. Most of these teams are running a development scheme for both adults and kids and anyone can join.

Both teams have suffered from many injuries this season and especially Ruislip has suffered this season due to loss of players. “It is a small miracle that we have made it into the Cup finals this year.”, says Kerstin Papenfuss, head coach for the Ruislip Eagles. “Our best player Dani Sposi left after the end of last season to move abroad and everyone had to step up to compensate for the loss. The girls have done this with incredible team spirit and didn’t get disheartened by large number of serious injuries that have occurred throughout the season which  resulted in us having to play matches with 7-8 players”. “Winning the Cup would mean the world to the girls who have all made sacrifices throughout the season and we’d love to celebrate with our supporters; some of them are flying in just to see this match in the Copperbox.”

The EHA Cup finals will be played on the 17th of May and tickets can be bought on Eventbrite.co.uk for £5

 

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