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21.08.2012, 10:42
Ireland search for stars of the future
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Green Giants Talent Transfer Programme hopes to unearth new players for the Irish national team
 

Ireland search for stars of the future

The Irish Olympic Handball Association has launched a new programme looking for new and talented elite athletes to join its men’s national team programme.

The ‘Green Giants Talent Transfer Programme’ is seeking to replicate some of the success their neighbours Great Britain have had with their own 'Sporting Giants' talent identification programme. Seven members of the Great Britain men’s and women’s Olympic squads came through the programme from sports including hockey, football and basketball.

Alongside their existing squad, the Irish federation has reserved up to two places for players transferring from other sports as they prepare for their upcoming EHF EURO 2016 qualification matches against Estonia and Belgium.

National team coach, Toni Gerona, FC Barcelona’s youth coach, has a tough job ahead of him if he is to take his young squad from their 41st position in the EHF rankings but is positive about the success of the programme.

“We have some very good players in the current Irish squad but we think that we can supplement our existing squad with additional talent. It’s no secret that the Irish team are not the biggest in Europe, but pound for pound we give our best. We believe there are players out there in basketball, rugby and Gaelic games who can be successful in handball,” he said.

The federation is also looking to supplement its squad with handball players from other nations with Irish passports or Irish relatives. Under the slogan “Play for Ireland”, the federation has issued a call in English and German via its website, twitter and Facebook for interested players to come forward.

Commenting on the initiatives, General Manager of IOHA, Lúcás Ó’Ceallacháin, said: “We have a huge pool of untapped talent in other sports who could make a significant contribution in Olympic handball for their country. Handball is a hugely enjoyable sport with a professional player pathway similar to rugby in Europe. This is a chance for the right candidate to live the dream and play for Ireland.”

Ireland's Green Giants Programme kicks off on Sunday, 26 August with their first screening session involving physical testing, handball drills and matches. The Irish begin their EHF EURO 2016 campaign against Estonia on 31 October 2012.


TEXT: EHF
 
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