Handball explodes in Britain
THE future of elite handball in Britain took a major step forward after British Handball, England Handball and Scottish Handball agreed a clear pathway for the development of international players.
Handball is the fastest growing sport in the country at the moment, with tens of thousands of children and young people across the country being introduced to the sport as part of plans to fully harness the potential legacy from the London Olympics.
But under this new partnership, those young people will now have a clear pathway to follow as they aim to represent their country at European, World and Olympic level.
The news helps cement handball’s place in Britain’s sporting landscape after 2012, with real long-term plans being made for the future.
At international level Great Britain teams will play in official European, World and Olympic competitions, while Scotland and England teams will be selected from the Academies and continue to participate in UK and European training camps and tournaments.
Discussions are ongoing between England Handball, Scottish Handball and the Irish Olympic Handball Association to establish a Home International series from youth level up to seniors.
Lorraine Brown, British Handball’s Performance Director, said: “It’s fantastic to be working in collaboration with the Home Nations. The work they’ve done over the last two years building a foundation for the game will put us in good stead for the future.
“To have clarity about what our role will be in the future can only benefit the sport, and this will ensure there is a sustainable system in the future for Rio 2016 and into 2020.”
And Mike Briers, chairman of England Handball, added: “There is a tremendous influx of new players who are being attracted to the sport of handball. The Player Pathway will offer all of them a real opportunity to progress from junior club players, through the age groups, to GB representation in European, World and Olympic Competitions.”
And Stephen Neilson from Scottish Handball added: “Scottish players have played a big part in the existing GB teams, and we aim to maximise our involvement in the future. Our system of regular primary and secondary school championships will continue with youth club championships expanding to five age categories next season.”
And Mick Hegarty, England Handball’s Director of Performance, stated: “These exciting decisions are a positive reflection of how keen both BHA and EHA are to work together to produce podium quality teams in the not too distant future.”
England Handball’s existing four-year Player Pathway Programme for 9-13-year-olds, which has been growing and developing the talent pool of elite youth players, will be re-branded as the England Talent Pathway (ETP), which will incorporate a network of Regional and National Academies for players from 12-18-years-old.
Scottish Handball will continue with the building of national age group teams which will now integrate into the Great Britain Performance Programme and define a new four year player pathway strategy starting in 2013 which will be aligned with the Rio Olympic cycle.
TEXT: Frazer Snowdon