Welcome to Handball News

For all the latest news from British Handball plus news feeds from Handball Sites and Blogs around the world.

If you have a story for Handball News, please mail it to newsdesk@snowdons.co.uk or call 07866004382

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GB Men Finish Dutch Tournament with Strong Performance

BATTLING GB Men ended their Limburgse Handbaldagen Tournament campaign with a strong performance against top Norwegian side Haugaland HK on Tuesday.

With several players unavailable – and captain Ciaran Williams suffering a recurrence of a stress fracture in his foot – the team put in a strong performance in the last of their four games over three days in Holland.

GB’s Omar Sani scored nine goals and was named man of the match in the game, which the Norwegians narrowly won 26-28. They had led 11-17 at half time, but a strong second half from GB saw them narrow the gap.

Martin Hare added five goals, while John Pearce and Seb Edgar scored three each.

“It was a much better performance,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “We had a poor five minute spell at the end of the first half which gave them a six-goal lead at the break.

“We pulled it back and outscored them 15-11, but it wasn’t quite enough to end with a victory.

“Nevertheless, it was a good performance and we made less technical errors than in our other games. Overall this was our best game of the tournament.

“We’ve learned a lot of lessons over here. We’ve had 300 minutes of handball over just three days and we’re improving every time we play.”
Pic: Injured GB captain, Ciaran Williams. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vincent Named Man of the Match Against Polva Serviti

RIGHT winger Gawain Vincent was named as the player of the match as Great Britain men lost out 26-36 in their latest match of the Limburgse Handbaldagen Tournament in Holland.

Vincent, 19, scored six goals in a strong performance which puts him in the frame for a regular spot in the team’s World Championship qualification tournament in Finland next month.

As well as Vincent’s six goals, Omar Sani added seven as GB went down to Polva Serviti, who are currently second in the Estonian Handball League and who topped the group in the Limburgse event and were aiming to reach the final.

“It was a good positive performance from the lads after a disappointing day yesterday,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie.

“Most of the players rose to the challenges presented to them, and the defence was better, so it was a step up from our last performance.”

Great Britain will now play in the placement game for 7th and 8th place against Haugaland HK from Norway on Tuesday, and will then return home before playing in the Yellow Cup in Switzerland from January 2-4.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Under-Strength GB Men Lose Out in Holland

UNDER-strength Great Britain Men suffered a 23-39 defeat at the hands of Vos Investment Lions in the second match of their Limburgse Handbaldagen Tournament in Holland on Sunday.

With several key players out injured, head coach Dragan Djukic took his chance to give several of the newer players in the squad chance to stake their claim for a place in the World Championship qualifiers in Finland next month.

However, with victory always out of their grasp, the defeat to the Lions leaves GB Men looking at the placement matches in the final day, following their final group game against Estonian outfit Polva Serviti, tomorrow.

Influential captain Ciaran Williams played just 20 minutes of their opening game against K-Sports before he came off with a recurrence of the knee injury which he sustained in Denmark six weeks ago.

And with goalkeeper Jesper Parker and right back Steven Larsson also unavailable for the Tournament, it was an under-strength GB side who travelled to Holland.

“It was a difficult game,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “The conditions of some of the players as good as it should be and that showed with their second game in one day.

“With several of the key players out, it’s been a good opportunity for some of the younger players to step up, and it’s given us a chance to run the rule over them.

“Some have really put their names in the frame for selection for the squad for the World Championship qualifiers in Finland in January, so it’s been a useful experience.”

GB complete their group matches in the Limburgse Tournament tomorrow with a clash against Polva Serviti, who are second in the Estonian League, and then look likely to be playing in either the 5-6 or 7-8 placement matches on Tuesday.

Pic: Great Britain's Omar Sani, who scored nine against Vos Investment Lions. (Pic: Reiner Worm).

GB Men Give Tournament Favourites a Tough Time

GREAT Britain men went down 20-29 in their opening clash of the Limburgse Handballdagen tournament in Holland on Sunday, losing out to the event favourites, K-Sports.

Facing a team made up of many of the top players from Japanese and Korean leagues, the GB guys battled well and were level at 19-19 mid-way through the second half, before their rivals changed formation and left GB playing catch-up.

A strong period of defence helped GB fight back from a 10-17 half time deficit and they drew level 19-19, with keeper Bob White (pictured) outstanding in goal, but they could not stop K-Sports from scoring.

“Our defence was superb,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “We had a great spell to claw it back to 19-19, but once we conceded a goal we lost our way and the lads’ heads dropped.

“But K-Sports are the favourites to win the tournament, and we’re hopeful of beating Vos Investment Lions tonight which will secure a place in the semi finals tomorrow.”

Right back Gawain Vincent scored eight goals, while Seb Edgar added five.

After tonight’s clash with Vos Investment Lions, the GB boys will take on Polva Serviti on Monday afternoon before the semi finals later tomorrow and possibly the finals on Tuesday.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

GB Women: Gruelling Schedule Takes Its Toll

GREAT Britain women finished their Stadtwerk Cup campaign in Switzerland exhausted after a gruelling match schedule took its toll on the squad.

Already missing several key players, the squad faced three 40-minute games a day over two days against some top club opposition from Germany and Switzerland.

After securing one win in their three Saturday matches, GB went into the second day under-strength and stretched to the limit – but they lost none of their trademark bulldog determination.

After beating German Bundesliga outfit Sindelfingen by one goal in their final Saturday match, GB lost out 13-24 to the same opponents, with many of the squad’s less experienced players featuring in the team.

Their second match was against Goppingen, and an exhausted team lost out 8-24.

However, they dug deep and drew 15-15 with Swiss team Bruhl in their final match, despite being without Holly Lam-Moores, Jeanett Andersen or Shila Casey who had battled so well in the previous five tournament matches.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Under-Strength GB Women Battle in Switzerland

DESPITE missing five key players and carrying injuries in their squad, Great Britain women turned in three battling performances in the opening day of the Stadtwerk Cup in Switzerland on Saturday.

Great Britain are competing in the event against two top Bundesliga sides from Germany in Goppingen and Sindelfingen, as well as the top Swiss team, Bruhl.

GB lost out 16-19 in their opening match, but highlights included strong performances from Laura Innes in goal as well as Shila Casey, pictured, who played despite a niggling injury.

In their second match they lost out to Bruhl 15-18 after a poor performance, with new players struggling to combine with their existing structure.

GB tasted victory for the first time in the event in their final game of the day against Sindelfingen, winning 18-17 with Jeanett Andersen scoring the winner in the final second.

Currently eighth in the Bundesliga, Sindelfingen proved tough opponents, but several fast break goals late in the game from Holly Lam-Moores helped GB to victory.

Great Britain will now take on the same opponents again tomorrow, and will be aiming to secure at least two victories.

“We’re hoping that Lynn McCafferty will return for two of tomorrow’s games,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris. “She had to return to Italy to her club after the first day of our stay in Switzerland, and although it’s a long way we hope she will come.”

Playmaker McCafferty was missed in GB’s defeats, although Ewa Pallies played well in her place.

Missing from the GB squad in Switzerland are Sarah Hargreaves, Kelsi Fairbrother, Britt Goodwin, Lynn McCafferty and Christina O’Sullivan, while Shila Casey is carrying an injury.

Friday, December 18, 2009

GB Women Lose Opening Swiss Fixture

GREAT Britain women went down 31-30 to LK Zug in the opening game of their stay in Switzerland after delayed travel from their training camp in London took their toll on the squad.

The team arrived in Zurich late from Britain after their travel plans were disrupted, and despite battling well they went down by one goal in their training game on Thursday night.

“We were all so tired after a long day travelling,” said team manager Melanie Chowns. “But it was a great training game though, and Talent ID goalkeeper Laura Innes got to play the whole game, which was great for her, and she had a great second half especially.”

And Holly Lam-Moores added: “We had been travelling since 6am and were carrying around some heavy legs which meant we did not play as well as we should have.

“With plenty more technical mistakes than usual we began to slip into old habits. We started badly but managed to pick up the pace in the second half but it just wasn’t enough.

“However, it was good training for us leading up to the tournament where we will face top league teams from France, Germany and Switzerland.

“The mood is high after a nice day of sightseeing and a good two hours of training this morning. Tomorrow we meet Goppingen from Germany, Dijon from France and Bruhl from Switzerland. It will be a tough test for us we all look forward to it.”

Keep checking back to the British Handball website to find out how the GB Women fare in the Stadtwerk Cup.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GB Women Visit London for Olympic Training

OLYMPIC dreams seem closer than ever now for the GB Women’s handball squad after the team visited the Olympic site before a series of talks at the British Olympic Association’s central London HQ.

The team was in town to prepare for this week’s Stadtwerk Cup in Switzerland, but combined their stay with a visit to the Olympic site which is quickly taking shape.

They were also the first sport to be guests of the BOA’s at their plush new offices in central London, a visit which was part of the Olympic Awareness Training programme which is being rolled out across all sports in the next year.

The team met GB hockey player Simon Mantell to chat about being a first-time Olympian, and were also told about some of the advantages and pitfalls of being part of Team GB and living in the athlete village during the games.

It is all part of a process designed to have the athletes fully prepared for the Olympics, with as many of their potential problems ironed out beforehand so they can focus on their performance.

“It’s amazing to be here in London, both at the Olympic site and at the BOA offices,” said team member Kathryn Fudge. “It has shown us that it’s more real and it seems closer now than before.

“For many of us we’re closer to the Olympics now than when we started out! It’s going to come round quickly, and we’re all really excited.”

En-route from the Olympic site to the BOA offices, GB women’s team head coach Jesper Holmris said: “It’s good for us to see the Olympic village for the first time, and to see how it’s coming along. There is a lot more building work happening and it is larger than I thought.

“I think it’s good for the athletes to see it and get inspired and motivated by it because it’s not that far away now.

“I think everybody was a bit worried that if we didn’t get the extra funding we might not make it and there may not have been a British handball team at the Olympics. And when the BOA said a few weeks ago that they weren’t sure of the size of the team, we didn’t know what would happen.

“But now we have new funding, and I think it’s definite that we will be there, so it’s a good time for us. It has been a tough year, but we have come through and are looking forward.

“It is good to be here for everyone, but especially for the players who have joined us most recently. We have some young players in the team now, and when you’re 16 or 17 years old and new to the team they get to realise what they’re doing and just how big this is.

“This should inspire them too. If there was not 100 per cent commitment before, now they have visited the Olympic site and the British Olympic Association, hopefully they are 110 per cent committed now.

“It’s only two and a half years to go now, but it’s not just about the 2012 Olympics. Our victory over Finland gave the team a place in the European Championships and gave them something else meaningful to focus on, and I can see a change in some of the players.

“Having other goals is great because it is a big motivator. That’s good because if it was only the Olympics at the end of the tunnel it would be hard to keep the players going.

“And of course it was also good for UK Sport and the British public to see that we are progressing and can play well and be competitive.”

Chairman Urges Caution After Funding Boost

BRITISH Handball has been celebrating this week with the news that UK Sport has doubled their funding for the London 2012 Olympic cycle – but chairman John Brewer, pictured, is keen to point out that it may not solve all their problems.

The board of the British Handball Association met in London this week to discuss a number of issues and drive the organisation forward in light of UK Sport’s announcement of another £1.44 million which will ensure our programme continues until at least 2013.

However, last month’s warnings from the British Olympic Association that their own financial constraints may limit the size of the team they send to the games are still very much present.

“Whilst the extra funding is a great help to us, it does not yet guarantee our participation in the London 2012 Olympics,” said Brewer this week.

“We can only achieve this by continued hard work and dedication both on and off the court, and we must all work hard to ensure we get the rewards that everyone deserves.

“We are very aware that the money from UK Sport only goes some way towards meeting our aspirations for success, and we will continue to work hard and look at all possible options to secure additional funding from benefactors and sponsors.

“We know that this will not be easy – it is a tough environment and there are other sports out there who are after money as well!”

Most of the so-called minor sports who had their funding reduced earlier in the year received extra money from UK Sport after a funding review announced last week.

There was an extra £13 million handed out by UK Sport, with half that amount coming from the Team 2012 fundraising initiative.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

British Handball's Holly Lam-Moores reflects on the past two months

The past two months have been eventful and exciting - both with Great Britain and my club team, Asker, in Norway........ Follow Holly's blog in the Warrington Guardian

Watch a short Clip of Asker v Storhamar 2 which Asker won by ten goals (35:25) from www.tvbudstikka.no (Holly plays in No.18 shirt)

Women's Handball World Championship Playoffs available live online!

the Women's XIX Handball World Championship 2009 in Jiangsu has reached the final stage. The first Placement Matches will take place on Thursday, December 17th. These are followed by the two Semi-Finals where France meets Spain and Norway faces Russia.

The schedule for the next two days is:

Thursday, 17.12.2009:
9th Place - Austria vs. Hungary (06:30 CET)
11th Place - Angola vs. China (09.00 CET)
7th Place - Germany vs. Romania (11.30 CET)
5th Place - Denmark vs. Korea (14.00 CET)

Friday, 18.12.2009 (Semi-Finals):
France vs. Spain (11.30 CET)
Norway vs. Russia (14.15 CET)

These matches can be watched online at handballworldcup.tv

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

McDermott Goes from Strength to Strength

GREAT Britain ace Chris McDermott has been boosting his chances of selection for both Holland and Finland with a series of strong performances for his club team Aarhus GF, in Denmark.

The 20-year-old pivot, pictured, turned out for Aarhus first team in their clash with BSV last week, and played strongly in front of a crowd of around 3,500 at the NRGI Arena in Aarhus where the team narrowly lost 35-29.

McDermott has gone from strength to strength since leaving his home in the Wirral to play handball in Europe.

After playing for Essen in the German Bundesliga last season, the two-metre tall player has returned to the Aarhus Academy where he has gone from playing junior handball with Braband to third division handball with Skovbakken and now Danish League action with Aarhus GF.

Pic: Ole Nielsen.

Busy Festive Period for GB Handball Teams

BOTH the Great Britain men’s and women’s squads are preparing for a busy Christmas and New Year period of match action across Europe.

The women’s squad will gather in London on December 13-15 for a training camp in preparation for the Stadtwerk Cup in Switzerland from Dec 19-20, where they will face some tough club oppositions.

And the men’s squad travel to Holland on December 26 for the Limburgse Handbal Dagan Tournament, where they will also face top club teams over three days.

The men’s fixtures will play a big part in preparations for the World Championship qualification tournament in Finland in January, where they have been placed in a group alongside the hosts as well as Bosnia and Romania.

Prior to the 15-strong women’s squad travelling to Switzerland, they will tour the 2012 Olympic site in London and be guests of the British Olympic Association for several presentations and meetings designed to help them prepare for being Olympic athletes.

After arriving in Switzerland, the women’s first match of the Stadtwerk Cup will be on December 19, when they will play German outfit Goppingen at noon, before taking on Swiss team Bruhl at 3pm and then French team Dijon at 8.15pm that evening.

The tough schedule then sees GB women take on Zalec from Slovenia at noon on Dec 20, before tackling another German team, Sindelfingen, at 2pm with a placement match to follow later that day depending on results.

GB Men’s schedule sees them take on K-Sports in their opening game of the Limburgse Handbal Dagan 2009 on December 27 at 1pm, before they play Vos Investments/Lions at 9pm.

The following day they take on Polva Serviti at 2pm, and may then take part in the semi finals the same day before the placement matches on December 29.

British Handball's Olympic Funding is Doubled

UK Sport has given British Handball an extra £1.44 million, doubling their award for the current Olympic cycle. The award is part of an extra £13 million handed out by UK Sport, with half that amount coming from the Team 2012 fundraising initiative. The extra money has been allocated according to past performance and future potential, and is a major boost for British Handball’s hopes of Olympic success and their ambitions to make the sport more popular in Britain.

Paul Goodwin, Chief Executive of British Handball, said: "I am delighted that UK Sport has recognised the progress that Handball has continued to make. I am certain that their decision to increase our funding will be fully justified. "This funding provides us the certainty which has been lacking until now that we can fund the preparation of our senior teams for the London 2012 Olympics.
"But we also have to build a sustainable structure for Handball in Britain for the longer term and I hope that the confidence shown by UK Sport today will now encourage the public and commercial partners to really get behind Team 2012 and British Handball and support our athletes."

After being awarded £1.44 million in February to cover the 2009-2013 funding cycle, British Handball decided to ‘front-load’ all that money over the first two years to maintain the development of their squads.And with the doubling of that award, they are assured of being able to continue their programme up to the London Olympics and into 2013.

An extra £13 million has been awarded to 11 sports who received ‘basic’ funding awards in February, with £6.5 million coming from the Team 2012 initiative, with Visa having come forward as the main sponsor. The other £6.5 million handed out today has been generated by UK Sport because of a cut in the rate of inflation anticipated in the original awards.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Proposed handball Facility for Thames Gateway.

The Thames Gateway region may get a World Class Handball Facility by the spring of 2011. A developer has consulted with British Handball to come up with a venue design that will provide 2 full size training courts which will convert to one match court with 1000 seats in competition mode. The centre will feature a large gym with the latest equipment and has excellent road and rail links.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

GBR v FRA Euro Qualifier on Sky Sports Xtra

The latest game played at Crystal Palace will be shown on Sky Sports Xtra and Sky Sports digital with transmission times as detailed below:

Date Start Duration Channel
05/11/09 18:00 01:00 Sky Sports Xtra
05/11/09 04:30 01:00 Sky Sports Xtra
06/11/09 06:30 01:00 Sky Sports Xtra
06/11/09 10:00 01:00 Sky Sports 3 Digital

Programmes are always subject to last minute changes so please check TV schedule closer to the time.

Please forward this blog to your contacts and get as many people as possible watching to create a demand!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Great Dane Seek Coaching Staff

Great Dane HC London is looking for coaching staff for the next season.
The positions are on a volunteering basis, but expenses will be paid for training fees and travel & accommodation expenses for all UK games.

Applicants should have good coaching skills and be available for at least 95% of training sessions during the season and 100% attendance at games.

Anyone interested should e-mail Radu Miclaus at greatdanehc@gmail.com , not later then 07. August. 2009


England Champions in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009
British and England Cup winners in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.
English Beach handball champions 2007.
Challenge Cup participation 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Sunday League Handball

Ashford Tanners Handball Club is running a Summer 6 team league for 10 weeks from 2nd August.
Any one over the age of 16 can join. This new league is in addition to regular Tuesday evening club sessions. More information can be found at www.ashfordhandball.org.uk

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Commonwealth nations meet in Egypt

As the world’s handball leaders descend on Cairo next week (4-7 June) for the International Handball Federation’s Congress, the Commonwealth’s handball nations will also be taking the opportunity to hold their own meeting.

Formed in 1985 in Salford, the Commonwealth Association was active in promoting handball throughout the English-speaking world throughout the 1980’s and 90’s.

Indeed during this time English club and national teams took part in Commonwealth competitions in Cyprus, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh, South Africa and Malaysia.

The election meeting in Egypt will seek to inject new impetus into the body, which has been largely inactive since 2000, and whose aim is to gain handball’s admission to the Commonwealth Games.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sheffield hosts English Cup final

The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield is to host the finals of this season’s English Cup on Saturday 6 June.

Previously named the British Cup, the competition is now open only to men’s and women’s teams in England.

The BHA's Handball News reports that the one-day event will feature a men’s plate final, a men’s final between Great Dane and Olympia and a women’s final between Great Dane and Ruislip Eagles.

Timings for the event are 1.00 pm men’s Plate final, 3.00 pm women’s Cup final, 5.00 pm men’s Cup final.

Pictured: Ruislip Eagles women's team

Training week for British squads

The half term school holiday week finds Great Britain’s elite handballers hard at work on separate training camps in Europe as they continue their preparations for London 2012. 

GB’s players have travelled from their home clubs across Europe, with the women in Spain and the men training in Germany.

First blood to Kiel

Germany’s league and cup champions, Kiel, are half way to the triple following their defeat of Ciudad Real over the weekend.

In the first leg of the Champions League final in a packed out Sparkassen Arena in Kiel, the Germans won 39-34.

Handball fans following the action at ehfTV.com, the European Handball Federation’s TV platform, were treated to an excellent full match  commentary in English for the first time, thanks to a new initiative by the EHF.

The return leg in Cuidad Real will be played on Sunday 31 May at 5.00 pm.

Follow the build up to the event on the EHF’s Champions League homepage and all the action live and on demand at ehfTV.com

Friday, May 22, 2009

Euro season finale

The European handball season reaches its final stages this weekend as Kiel and Ciudad Real meet for a re-match of the last year’s Champions League final.

Defending champions, Ciudad Real, travel to Germany for the first-leg of the final in a sold-out Sparkassen Arena in Kiel on Sunday.

The return match will be played in Ciudad Real’s Quijote Arena on Sunday, 31 May 2009.

Handball fans in the UK can follow the action live, courtesy of the internet TV platform, ehfTV.com.

The two finals will also be commentated live in English thanks to a new initiative by EHF Marketing.

Sky and cable viewers will be able to watch highlights of European handball premier club competition on Eurosport 2.

Sunday's match throws-off at 5.45 pm UK time.

Handball app released for the iPhone

The first handball game has appeared on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

7M Handball Contest is available now from the Apple iTunes store.

The game using the touch screen to aim, apply spin and shoot in a one on one against the goalkeeper from the penalty line.

Handball fans willing to fork out the £2.39 for the app can download it and an online version is also available.

Mühlematter out of UK conference

As reporting on the Fastbreak blog and in this week’s edition of Handball News, Peter Mühlematter, Secretary General of the International Handball Federation, was due to attend the international Play the Game conference from 8-13 June in Coventry.

Unfortunately due to family reasons Mühlematter will no longer be attending the conference, where he was due to talk about the on-going political issues within the IHF.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Perfect venue, wrong sport

Somebody has gone and built the perfect handball venue in Swindon.

A full-sized handball court, junior court, handball goals, a proper sports floor and no other floor markings to confuse things, all in one building.

The company behind the venture are also planning to open a venue in every major city in the country.

Too good to be true? Well, possibly.

It wasn’t built for handball, but for futsal, FIFA’s official indoor football game, played five a-side on a handball court.

@Futsal, the company behind the venture, have converted a former warehouse into a futsal arena, with warm-up areas, a physio room and café.

The company are predicting that futsal could really take off in the UK as they aim to open 30 venues within the next three years.

They could be right, the FA are already promoting the game through the national team and their county associations, and others are also seeing the potential for the sport, the Royal National College for the Blind for example have recently open a new £21 million facility with a dedicated futsal court.

The next @Futsal venue will be built in South Wales and more venues are planned for Birmingham, London and Manchester.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Be part of London 2012

With Britain’s handball elite plying their trade overseas, the London 2012 Olympic Games can often seem a distant prospect to UK handballers.

However, Olympic organisers are now challenging clubs and organisations to get involved, open up and be part of London 2012.

Clubs are being invited to take part in the 'London 2012 Open Weekend', which will take place between 24-26 July 2009, and feature a series of London 2012 inspired events around the country.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Open Up’, and London 2012 are asking organisations to challenge themselves and their local community to try something new, join in and be inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Last year 700,000 people took part in over 650 events.

Events selected by London 2012 will receive a marketing kit with posters, postcards, banners and web banners.

Registration is now open at london2012.com.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

GB court Norwegian star

Great Britain may have unearthed a new star as they prepare for the London 2012 Games.

Norwegian first division player, Helene Vinknes from Kristiansand-based club, Vag Vipers, has been invited to trial for the British side.

The 24 year-old defence-specialist has a British grandmother, and believes that she could qualify to play for Great Britain at London 2012.

Vag finished seventh in the Norwegian first division this season and made it the semi-finals of the Norwegian Cup.

According to reports on the Norwegian website fvn.no, the British Handball Association is now looking into the player's eligibility to play for Great Britain.

Bundesliga move for GB player

Yet another British player is heading for the Bundesliga.

Recently promoted German side, SG BBM Bietigheim, have signed Yvonne Leuthold, as they make the jump from the Regionalliga (third division) to the German second division.

Leuthold, who made her GB debut at the Four Nations tournament in Sheffield in October 2008, is currently signed for Swiss outfit, DHB Rotweiss Thun.

The 1.77 metre backcourt player notched up 97 goals this season for the Swiss club, and was the team’s second best goalscorer, helping them to avoid relegation from Nationalliga A.

The 28 year-old has played 34 international matches for Switzerland, scoring 39 goals, but the prospect of playing in the Olympics was too tempting for the dual nationality player.

Commenting about her decision to play for Great Britain, Leuthold said: “Which sportsman or women doesn’t dream of playing in the Olympics.”

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Underfunding debate rumbles on

Since UK Sport's funding announcement in January, Handball like the other sports who found out that they would receive considerably less funding, has got on with the job of preparing teams for the 2012 Olympics. Of course none of us have given up the fight to see that our sport is fairly represented at the games, and to maximise the long term benefit of this extraordinary opportunity provided by the London Olympics.

All of these sports are working hard to ensure they provide the best possible coaching and competitive opportunities for the athletes within their vastly reduced budgets, they are also having to focus their attention on seeking out commercial partners in the worst economic downturn many of us have known, in order to fill their funding gap.

Even when we think that there is a glimmer of hope in the shape of the BOA/UKS/LOCOG Team 2012 initiative, we are firmly told that there is no guarantee that the revenues generated by this fund will be used to replace the shortfall to the 8 Olympic and 4 Paralympic sports. Instead UK Sport will decide how it will be distributed, and this despite UK Sports 'nice' words in January that if the money had been there, they would have optimally funded all the sports.

But there are people who are prepared to speak out against the UK Sport 'no compromise' approach which was intended to deliver Britain's best ever medal haul, but is actually having the most destructive effect in British sport just 3 years out from the Olympics. Peter King, former CEO of British Cycling, speaking at the recent CCPR conference said UK Sport had created false expectations of funding among the country's minor Olympic sports and then "chopped them off at the knees" by slashing their budgets for 2012. Simon Hart, The Telegraph 6th May

Furthermore Hugh Robertson, the the Shadow Minister for Culture Media and Sport asked Andy Burnham the Minister for Culture,Media and Sport 'how the funds raised by Team 2012 will be allocated to each sporting discipline' to which he was given the reply 'Money received by UK Sport from Team 2012 will be allocated and distributed to Olympic and Paralympic sports according to their 'no compromise' investment strategy and against the 10 investment principles published in June 2008, with the aim of delivering the overall targets for London 2012 of Top 4 in the Olympics and 2nd in the Paralympics with more medals won in more sports'.

Given the 'the haves and have not' landscape that UK Sport have so successfully created, is it any wonder that UK Sport are struggling to win the trust of many people in sport? a matter recently highlighted when Peter Keen, Performance Director at UK Sport was recently reported as saying "One of the things we've found difficult as an organisation is to strive to gain real trust and mutual understanding with people and balance that with the inevitability of accountability and scrutiny." Cycling an Olympic example for others, says UK Sport performance chief.

Trust is mutual and has to be earned and all parties have to be accountable for their actions. I feel sure we have not heard the last of this debate.

Paul Goodwin
CEO British Handball

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Strong Performance by GB Men for Tusem Essen

Although there has been a lot of media interest in the 6 British Boys, and I refer to them as boys, as they are some of the youngest players in the German Bundesliga, few know just how hard life has been for them since they moved to Essen in February. These boys have taken so many blows in the past few months - had their funding severely cut, lost their coaches and support structure, and told that they would not be able to stay at the academy in Denmark which has been home for the last 2 and a half years and must now find clubs who will provide for them in order to keep their dream of going to the London 2012 Olympics alive. If you had told any of them that they would be playing in the strongest handball league in the world in 2009, they would have laughed at you, and of course so would anyone who claims to know anything about handball. But that is exactly what they were offered in January this year and they accepted the challenge without a second thought, knowing full well that they were out of their depth and would be moving yet again to a country where the only language that they knew was the handball language. Well there are those who sniggered and those reporters who were economical with their words, because they did not know what these boys were capable of.
The boys have been totally committed to the club, and the fans have been very supportive of them, but the club management have been slow to acknowledge the real contribution the British players have made to the ailing club, which is very disappointing, given the tough conditions the boys have put up with and the fact that they will just be dropped at the end of the season having completed their task.
Just a few days ago they found out that none of them would be given a contract with the club next season, not from the coach or manager, but via a report posted on a German handball website. They never expected a contract, just the courtesy of being told before the rest of the world. But did it stop them from giving their best to the club a few days later? Hell no, they went out there and showed the doubters that they were as important to this club as any of the other players. I have to say I am still waiting to see the club's report on the match, but below is a posting on the England Handball Forum by Ciaran Williams, top scorer in Saturday's game against Melsungen, a team 7 places above Tusem Essen in the Bundesliga.Ciaran was responding to a posting by Paul McDermott which can be read on the England Handball Forum

"We went into the game with our first choice left back, and first choice playmaker missing through injury so we knew it would be a tough day at the office from the off.

Myself, Chris Mohr and Seb Prieto all started the game, as did Chris McDermott in defence, so the Brits were off to a good start. With a much smaller backcourt we knew making goals was going to be tough, but that didn't seem to effect us as we used our speed and fearlessness to create chances, with myself, Chris and Seb all getting on the scoresheet in the first half. We went into the changing rooms 18-11 down and knowing there was still a big uphill challenge ahead in the 2nd half.

There was a crowd of of 2,500 present for the game and around 20 loyal, travelling supporters from Essen, who were placed directly behind our bench in the 2nd half, so no matter what the outcome would be our supporters literally would be "behind us until the end".
We started the 2nd half as we ended the first, battling for every goal and in every defence. In our half time team talk we discussed how to free up our biggest goal scoring threat Patrik Hruscak, as he was being man-marked out of the game, but we would soon realise this played into our hands. I added a 2nd goal shortly into the 2nd half, and there were also goals from other positions, which forced Meslungen to re-shape, as they marked our left back position out too. For me this gave me my first real opportunity to show what i could do, and the chance to play with freedom, i did this and managed to score 5 goals, as Paul (McDermott) said, which was/is an amazing feeling. Chris Mohr added another goal, shortly before TuSEM Essen and "us Brits" made history yet again.

With 10mins left on the clock our coach made some changes to the team, and as Paul rightly said "To all those who sneered. To all those who laughed. To all those who mocked, and said we could never live at that level.

Eat your words." Because for 10mins today all 6 Brits stood togther on a Bundesliga court and not only played with the best, but matched them! We drew the 10mins 3-3, with Dan, Chris and Chris all scoring, and to have the other teams' players, fans and officials approach us after the game, shake hands and admit their surprise at our ability really shows what we have achieved here today. I can honestly say i have never felt such pride, happiness, achievement and motivation as i did today standng in defence and looking across the court and there in the Black of Essen were 5 other British players mixing it in the Bundesliga! Hopefully it will not be the last time, but we will definitely savour this very special moment which we have earnt with the countless hours of hard work and training, put in over the years.

We are travelling early tomorrow moning back to England for a National Team Camp in Liverpool and will return to Germany on Tuesday. Hopefully some of you will make the trip to Liverpool on Monday afternoon and see us play, because we all really do want to share this experience with those who are supporting us.

This has without doubt been a good day for me. . .

A good day for the Brits in Essen. . .

And a very good day for British Handball!"

Ciaran Williams.

Text: Paul Goodwin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sir Clive Woodward to speak at England Handball Conference

ONE of Britain’s most successful sporting coaches in recent times, Sir Clive Woodward will be the keynote speaker at the England Handball coaching conference in Liverpool this summer.

Perhaps best know for coaching the England Rugby union side to World Cup glory in 2003, Sir Clive is now deputy chef de mission for the 2010 Winter Games for the British Olympic Association, where he is in charge of elite performance.

His speech at the coaching conference will cover performance and leadership, and it is hoped will teach people in the handball community something of his highly successful approach to coaching.

“We’re delighted to have Sir Clive coming to our conference,” said EHA chairman Mike Briers. “Obviously we hope the delegates will learn from his speech, but it is a good opportunity for him to come and see something of the work and great strides we’re making so that handball can become more widely known and played.”

The three-day conference runs from June 26-28 and places are still available for the event at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool. Sir Clive will be there throughout the day on Saturday, but there are events taking place throughout the weekend.

As well as Sir Clive, the EHA have also invited BHA technical advisor and leading Danish handball official Allan Lund to attend, as well as other top coaches from Sweden.

For more details or to book a place, see http://www.englandhandball.com/.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Following fast on the heels of their new ehfTV.com web platform back in September 2008,EHF Marketing have now launched a YouTube Channel. Launched on 21st April 2009,the new service will allow millions watching the world’s number one video-sharing platform, www.YouTube.com, to get an insight to European top handball.

ehfTV.com YouTube channel

GB Women to play Euro Pre Qualification

Great Britain will have to play Finland in September in a pre qualification competition in order to secure their place in the Euro 2010 qualification group. The qualification group has already been drawn and includes France, Iceland and Austria.
The 1st leg against Finland will be played in Finland on 23rd September and the home leg will be played 3 days later in Great Britain. The venues have yet to be confirmed but discussions are underway with a number of venues including Liverpool's Echo Arena.

The full schedule for the qualification group is:

14.-15.10.09 France VS Iceland
14.-15.10.09 Austria VS Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain
17.-18.10.09 Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain VS France
17.-18.10.09 Iceland VS Austria
17.-18.10.09 Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain VS France
17.-18.10.09 Austria VS France
31.03.-01.04.10 Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain VS Iceland
31.03.-01.04.10 France VS Austria
03.-04.04.10 Iceland VS Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain
26.-27.05.10 Iceland VS France
26.-27.05.10 Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain VS Austria
29.-30.05.10 France VS Winner PQ Finland/Great Britain
29.-30.05.10 Austria VS Iceland

Full competition details at Eurohandball.com

Euro 2010 official website

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Handball-World.com Interviews British Players

Interest in the British players signed to TUSEM Essen continues. Christian Stein of handball-world.com speaks to Sebastian Prieto, Ciaran Williams and Merlin Braithwaite.
Read the full story

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

'The Oddysey' by Homer.

Those who know me will be aware that I fluctuate between a relatively articulate and classically well-read individual, and more often a loud, beer swilling, bald, overweight, opinionated clod.

You can therefore take what follows as;

a) a reference to the epic poem written in the 8th century BC by one of the finest poets Ancient Greece produced, sequel to the iliad, describing a journey of truly unbelievable proportion, or

b) the rambling and chaotic journey of someone who looks, and sometimes acts like Homer Simpson.

Receiving only short notice of the the relocation of my son and some of his squad mates to Germany, I had little time to prepare. There had been rumours, of course, but nothing substantial enough to book a flight on?

No British player had ever played in the Bundesliga

It was on Monday the 1st of February that I booked the flights for Friday the 6th. I'm often impulsive, but also trust my instincts. "Yep, this will be a straightforward trip" I thought, "back in time for supper on Sunday, having seen a little history made along the way."

I relocated my work life to the north of Scotland 6 months ago. Tired of the instability of the construction industry, I had struggled through college courses in the past couple of years to reinvent myself, and go from self-employment to a career in senior management in areas where my ridiculously varied prior work history for once counted for, rather than against me. Upside, steady money. Downside, can't come and go as I please any more, taking ridiculous amounts of time off to take handball squads here and there. Everything has a price.

Nevertheless, I found cheap flights from Glasgow Prestwick (Glasgow? Hah! You lied Ryanair!!)
to get as near to Essen as I could, as number one son had confidently told me that first game was at 'home', in Essen. I had tried to check on the websites, but my grasp of German is limited. I had to trust to Chris' information. It was therefore a mild surprise to find out midweek that the game was in fact in Elsenfeld, hundreds of miles away. Chris did say that Chris Mohr and his father Thies, whom I met in Denmark and Luxembourg in 2007, could give me a lift from Frankfurt if I could get there. "No problem" I thought, "how hard can that be?"

Friday lunchtime, and I have been offerred a lift to Prestwick by one of the contractors working for us in Aberdeenshire. As it is over 3 hours to Glasgow from where I work and stay, I accept. Save a little diesel, not pay for parking, cheap weekend, it just gets better and better. I go online and book a hotel, which the website assures me is only 6k from Dusseldorf Weeze (Dusseldorf??Hah! You did it again Ryanair!!70k from Dusseldorf), so only a short taxi ride to my nice looking hotel (Booked hastily online, Friday lunchtime.). For the first time in many years, I can actually have a drink at the airport, as I won't be driving at the other end?

It turns out that I share that drink with Aggy, the Scottish half of 'Kim and Aggy TV cleaners' fame(?). At least it looked like her, and she said it was. After 3 or 4 pints on an empty stomach I'd have believed her if she had said she was John Wayne. The worst part of this story is that I then texted people to let them know I was with her. This would usually be classed as the kind of thing you'd keep to yourself? (Tony Coumbe, I will keep to myself what you suggested she might do)

By the time I get on the plane I'm distinctly cheerful, even prepared to buy an in-flight drink due to my new found wealth (Hah!). Previously Ryanair drink prices might have forced me to remortgage my house. By the time we land, a warm glow of expectation and barely palatable booze have made the world look very rosy. I decide that I will plan my journey after consulting hotel staff. I collar a taxi outside, unpeturbed by the prospect of the cost of taxi going 6km. " 4 miles?? That couldn't be much more than a tenner" I say (probably out loud) to myself.

It was therefore something of a surprise to find out that my hotel was in fact not 6km away, but 26 km, and not in Germany at all, but in Holland. (Strrrrrrike ONE!!!! The baseball players out there will be thinking.)

"OK, it's midnight Friday night, not many choices, and it'll be the only taxi ride I'll need while I'm here, I'm sure." I say to myself, (probably out loud). The guy tells me it will be 40 euro. I think "ummmm, about £28" and climb in. It's only on the journey that I realise I'm working way outside of my mathematical comfort zone, and it is in fact almost 40 quid due to the falling value of sterling. "Too late now", I ponder, (probably out loud).

After being dropped outside the very pleasant looking building which thankfully DOES turn out to be my hotel, (after several wrong turns down people's driveways) I am 'clerked in' by a very pleasant young man. I had asked if he spoke English as I walked in, as the limit of my Dutch was ordering a beer (All I ever needed previously), and typically of Europeans he said "A little", then spoke flawless English at great speed. Being now well after midnight, I asked the first and most important question on journey. "Is the bar still open?".

He looked at me with a mixture of pity and disgust. " Maybe for another 15 minutes" he said.

Dropping my hand luggage (cheapskate) in my room, I look around in disbelief at how tiny the room is. Rather like a wardrobe turned on it's side. I read the hotel blurb to see what it was before it was a hotel, and it turns out it used to be a convent, and I admire the nuns' fortitude having lived in such tiny rooms all their lives. "Still" I thought to myself as I sped downstairs, "At least they had a late bar".

The same guy is behind the bar. "Do you have a dark beer?" I ask, making a 'sign language' measurement about 8 inches high which I obviously believe will give him a clue as to what a dark beer might look like. "Sure" he says, and hands me a lager. "Any port in a storm" I ponder (probably out loud) or indeed, "any lager".

There are about 10 dutch 'chavs' in the bar, who glance at me with torpid disinterest. I am the oldest person in the room by 30 years. "Ahhhh", felt right at home.

I am anticipating the 15 minute deadline, and 'squeezing a last one in', when the door bursts open and 50 people in fancy dress run in. Knowing everyone else and seeing a stranger here, they make a bee-line for me. After several congas around the bar, which it turns out was formerly the church, (best service I've ever attended) I manage to stop and catch my breath, to try to find out what the hell is going on.

I discover the guy with the feathers is the "Prince of Tienray" He holds me so tight that I ponder whether he might be the "Queen of Tienray", luckily, not out loud on this occasion.

Fatigue and alcohol start to make me wonder if I have developed double vision, but I then realise with some relief he has a twin brother there.

As the picture shows, I also discovered they did in fact have a dark beer, but normally they just put an inch of it in the bottom of a glass of lager to make their own local mix. I asked for a 'grosse', and with a raising of eyebrows they gave me one. I understood why when I realised in it's 'raw' state it was entirely undrinkable. However, I'll not be put off something by it's impossibility, and I chewed my way through that beer to the bitter (very bitter) end. I did then revert to lager. I had by this point built significant Anglo-Dutch bonds, but my refusal to dance any further congas due to the fact that I was exhausted and am disabled reduced this immediately to the status of 'persona non grata', and I was left with four 'ordinary' Dutch lads at the bar to try to plan my journey to the home of Grosswallstadt.

They informed me immediately that 'only a crazy man' would try to use public transport to get to Elsenfeld, by pointing out that I would need to take a bus to Venlo, then a bus or train to Monchengladbach, then a train to Cologne, then a train to Frankfurt, where I could be collected for the hour long drive south. I tried to convinve them that obviously I wasn't so stupid a man by saying I would hire a car with sat nav instead and drive. I could tell they pondered (To themselves) that my IQ was at least 50 points higher as a result. The bar empties, and I hit the hay.

I awake with a big head, literally and metaphorically.

A sturdy 'Ontibeet' (breakfast) helped, and lots of coffee focussed my mind on my coming trip.

I decide that only a crazy man would try to use public transport, so grab the laptop, and book a hire car from Dusseldrof(Hah!)Weeze airport on my credit card for 65 euro, anticipating another 50 to 60 to cover fuel. I then book a taxi (40 euro) back to the airport to collect.

I walk to the desk to collect my car.

Name? "McDermott"
"Ahhh, yes, Mr McDermott, we have your booking.........but sadly" he looks at me sadly, "we have no satnav? You give us only one hour??" Ah, well, c'est la vie.
"Passport?", the young man asks then checks,
"Licence", he does the same.
"Credit card?". My pocket is empty. We ring the hotel, they cannot find it (even though it was used to make that booking). We ask the hotel to see if it is in my room. It isn't. They ring the taxi firm to see if it's there. It isn't. I ask the hire co if they will take cash, they say, 'NO'.

I decide I'll get cash from the machine and revert to plan A, only to discover that my other remaining card doesn't work to get cash out in Europe. I am stranded with little money.

I am frantically thinking for a plan C. I ring Thies and tell him of my predicament. With typical humanity, Thies bales me out, and although I have the cash to get me to Frankfurt, he drives me to the game and lends me the cash to get home again. You can know people all your lives, but often it is the 'new' friends who help you in times of crisis that you will remember.

So, we make it there. I'm at the ground, having been driven there on the wings of a storm by Chris Mohr, who following injury, will show the Bundesliga what he too has to offer.

I enter the ground, and there, warming up they are. Two young men, whom I had taken to Scotland, then Malta in the first faltering days of their 'International' handball lives. After a few greetings, Ciaran looks around this Budesliga handball arena and says to me, "It's a long way from Malta".

He refers to the start of the journey. Malta was our first trip 'away'. Having beaten the USA twice, and convinced ourselves we could win the last game, we were beaten soundly in the final in 2005 by a talented young Malta squad. Most players were pleased with a silver medal. Two players only wept as they queued for their silver medal. It is no coincidence that is it those two players who are the only players to remain from that original squad and walked out to make history in that Bundesliga stadium. As I said at the time to those around who may have mocked the tears, "It has to mean that much to you, it has to mean 'everything". It is no accident that Ciaran and Chris have come this far. They always gave absolutely all that they had to give.

The intervening years brought GB, the Olympics, overseas players, and talent ID. But I cling to the memory of the lads I had taken away on so many trips to try to create the squad we longed for. It was great to then gain the new players, the overseas lads, and the talent ID who came in.

But for for years, and a million miles on the clock, the players who mattered for most were the British players, the boys who had been it it from the start. The Scots were unlucky to lose three in the last cut. I had recently boasted to our contractors (from Cumbernauld) that they had three boys in the mix, but it was then reduced to one girl, as England also lost Scotty Harrington, who had been in there from the start, prior to him, Pop had fallen, another guy I had hoped would make it all the way through. Nevertheless, Lynn now has a following of hairy a*sed construction workers following her every move as she pursues her career in Norway, with good media coverage back home (They were already aware of her, althought they didn't know what handball was).

Now included is Seb, and Merlin, who have toured with me in the England squad. Having managed them I think of them as 'my lads', like the others who came and went. Latterly Dan McMillan is there, who provides a fine example of what commitment and talent might gain you. Born north of the border, but welcome in my squad should I ever be lucky enough to be asked to manage another England squad.

So, finally, to the game?

What did the British boys give when they were asked to show their worth in the toughest league in the world? The place most people maybe expected them to fail in?

No more and no less than I expected.

Courage, fitness, nerveless commitment, 100% dedication, and no little amount talent.

No names, the match report is elsewhere. I don't have the words to describe the pride I felt as I watched them play. Our boys, living with the best of them. I'll say no more on that, the best is yet to come.

As I travelled back, a constant stream of texts and calls monitored how the lads had done.

I sat at Frankfurt Airport Station, (booked on the train to Monchengladbach, via Cologne) which was as close as I could get back that night, deep in conversation as to how the lads had got on. It distracted me enough to get on the wrong train, that person shall remain nameless, although, you know who you are Tony Coumbe. This meant I arrived in Monchengladbach too late for a bus. An 80 euro taxi fare got me back to my hotel.

I sleep soundly.

After breakfast, I count that I have 51 Euro left of the money Thies lent me. "No problem" I think "it will get me to the airport." My taxi looks set to clear this by a long way, but the owner takes pity, and lets me ride for 40 euro.It leaves me 11 euro.

I go to check in, and the young lady asks me to put my bag on the scale. It is 13.5 kilo,and I am only allowed 10 kilo. I tell the girl I'll check it in, and ask if it costs. "30 euro" is the answer. A hasty rearrangement gets me through, after throwing lots of stuff in the bin, and carrying the rest so I look like a suicide bomber.

I have enough left for 2 beers, which I quaff. Dues, paid, etc etc.

So finally, I land back in Scotland, a land I am growing to love through living there. My 'lift' asks me if the trip was worth all the trouble?

"What trouble?" I asked. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Is this the beginning or the end of the dream?

This is just the start. Right at this moment, nobody understands how good these lads are. Not even them. Nobody knows how far they can go.

Carpe Diem-"Sieze the day". Live out your dream lads. I'll watch every moment that I can.

It's been a pleasure and a privelidge to see you so far as I have done.

Paul McDermott

England Squad Manager. (Former)
Great Britain Squad Manager. (Very briefly)
Supporter. (Forever)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Grosswallstadt v TUSEM Essen , 7th February 2009 - A British Perspective

Well, the moment finally arrived then?
British players gracing the courts of the German top league.
I shall gloss over my own travelling woes, which make the film ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ look like a walk in the park.
Nevertheless, it helped distract me, and therefore calmed my nerves prior to the game.
The game began at a terrific pace, and it was obvious in the first minute or two that a lack of opportunity for the Essen squad to train together would make defence tough The GB lads had arrived on Tuesday, and some of the other players even later, meaning they were really going into the unkown.
2-0 down in 90 seconds, the 3-0 down before 3 minutes, and early nerves from the Essen half backs made them shoot too early giving cheap turnover of possession, for a low percentage shot. It looked as though Grosswallstadt would rewrite the record books with the score, but a goal from Farkarsovsky settled Essen, and they began to retain a share of possession.
Ciaran Williams had his own little piece of history starting as playmaker, and he began to work the team from the centre. Instigating a move which created a 1 on 1 from 6 metres for the right wing, followed by a direct pass to find an unmarked left wing should have meant Ciaran’s play brought Essen level but both wingers failed to convert, their lobs going beyond the far post. You can’t afford misses in the top flight, and a period of sustained pressure causing two defensive errors, along with 2 more misses which on another day the back court might have converted, instead of level scores, Essen found themselves 7-1 down. It was key point, and maybe people thought Essen would fold, but instead they dug deep and with some big defensive hits, in particular from Patrick Weinceck (The oldest looking 19 year old I’ve ever seen in my life) they started to cause uncertainty in the Grosswallstadt attacking play for the first time, giving the keeper some protection and resulting in some fine saves. All this time, Dan McMillan had been rolling sub for Ciaran in defence and was relishing the battle. With a performance that belies his short time playing handball he played an integral part in the defensive ‘machine’. In a period when Essen closed the game back to 9-4, 3 chances were missed, and with them probably went the chance to keep the pressure on Grosswallstadt. The balance of play was much more even now, though, with Dan McMIllan making an impression as he collected a yellow card. His strength in the challenge was to then lend him his own little piece of history too, as he walked off to sit out the first British Bundesliga 2 minute suspension. Nevertheless, it was this strength in defence that steadied the ship. Even so, the gap opened to 13 goals by half time (24-11), with the game effectively over as a contest, but the commitment to the cause remained for the Essen team.

The second half opened with a quick goal from the hosts, but three in response from Essen made them realise the visitors were not going down without a fight. Seb Prieto had now joined the fray, but was given little opportuntiy to operate by the Grosswallstadt defence. This was Essen’s best spell though, and they matched the hosts pretty much goal for goal until the moment came. Farkarsovsky intercepted an attempted feed to line and rode two challenges as Seb took off down the wing, and Farkarsovsky picked him out on the run at 9 metres. Seb climbed gracefully to slot his shot past the ‘keeper as if he’s been doing it all his life. With 10 minutes to go, 33-19 was probably a fair reflection, but on another day Essen could have kept it much closer.
A two minute suspension from a tiring Weincek put Essen on the back foot for the final period, and a second a few minutes later, (his third) saw him leave the field and Chris McDermott take to the court. He will be glad to have even this small time under his belt, and making some tackles in defence will have settled his nerves a little ahead of Hamburg next weekend, but the two ‘reduced’ spells in this final 10 minutes had made the score open out a disproportionate degree by then end, at 41-23.
Merlin Braithwaite was unlucky not to get any court time. I’m sure over the coming weeks as the Essen coach gets to know better what our lads have to offer him, he will realise that in Merlin he has one of those players who will give you a goal out of nothing, and Essen needed that at times yesterday.
The greatest praise I can pay the GB boys is that a stranger who was not told, could not have picked them out from this team. They fitted right in and showed no nerves in front of the vociferous 2500 crowd. They have a simply remarkable opportunity to further their careers here. I stood back for a moment at the end of the game, watching with no little amount of pride as they signed autographs. I hope those at home realise, this is not the end of their journey, just the start of a new and exciting phase.

Reproduced with permission of the author Paul McDermott. Originally posted on England Handball Forum 8th February 2009.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Follow the British Lads in Essen

If you want to watch how the British players do in their next match on Sunday 15th February against Hamburg, you can follow the action on the Bundesliga live ticker
Match report for TV Grosswallstadt v TUSEM Essen, 7th February, can be found here

Saturday, February 07, 2009

GB Women to play Euro pre-qualification tournament

The European Handball Federation have today confirmed that Great Britain Women's team will play against Finland, Greece and Azerbaijan in September. The top two nations will then progress to the qualification groups.
The host nation has not been announced but it is believed that Finland and Greece are both ready to host. Great Britain is unlikely to host the tournament unless a sponsor could be found to cover all costs.
The GB Women competed in the 4 nations tournament held in Sheffield last October, when they won the tournament against, Turkey U21, Faroe Islands and Latvia. In November they met Greece in the world championship qualifications when they beat them 25:23 link

British Players first match in German Bundesliga

Five British players have been named in the team for TUSEM-Essen against 11th placed TV Grosswallstadt today. Ciaran Williams, Chris McDermott, Merlin Braithwait, Dan McMillan and Sebastian Prieto, arrived in Essen at the beginning of the week and following a frantic few days to complete their transfers from Denmark will be looking to show their new coach what they are capable of, and to help ailing club TUSEM-Essen to put in a good performance against mid table TGV.