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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UPDATED: Valiant GB Go Down Against Iceland

GREAT Britain Women's handball team went down fighting to Iceland in the 2010 European Championship clash at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, losing out 16-27 to the visitors.

Iceland's right-winger Hanna Stefansdottir was influential throughout, top-scoring with just under half of her team's goals - 13, whilst Kelsi Fairbrother top-scored for GB with five, which included three penalties.

Afterwards, GB captain Lynn McCafferty said: “We’ve got to look at the positives and see what we did, we are all a bit disappointed at the scoreline, and we’re all tired.
"They’re big shooters, they’re big women and they’re really, really physical – we know we can compete with them physically and in defence but not in attack.

“It’s so much better when you are on court feeling the players rather than watching them on DVD, it’s better for your brain to take in.

“We need to up our level to make them a little bit more tired and so we can run a bit more, their number 15 was really fast so we will have to do something about her.”

And Head Coach Jesper Holmris added: “We had a bad start, we were a little unlucky to begin with and couldn’t handle the power of the Iceland players.

“When it was 20-16 with 55 minutes gone that was an amazing result, but then they scored four quick goals. But our players did a fantastic job - they have a fantastic team spirit but they are up against women and some of our athletes are just girls.

“We have to improve our attack. We have proved that we can compete against Iceland and Austria 6 against 6, we were OK against France who were one of the top teams.

“The defence is on the right track, but we need to improve our attack – we have 6, 7, 8 potential players to add to our squad who were not here today and they will make a big impact on our attack especially.”

“The crowd were amazing - they helped us achieve this result. It was really nice to see - it was even better than last time.

Off the court it’s been very good to have the media here, the board members and the guests and interested handball people here.

“We delivered on court - we had a perfect team spirit; fighting until the very end. It was a good performance with the right attitude and the right spirit and if we continue to show this we will get more people interested in British Handball.”

Iceland started off the brighter of the two teams, opening the scoring through Anna Ursula Gudmundsdottir on 52 secs. Her opening strike was swiftly followed by three unanswered goals from the visitors as GB squandered three possessions without scoring before Lynn McCafferty finally opened the GB account on 7:05 to rapturous applause from the home crowd.

Kelsi Fairbrother then converted on 10:26 from a penalty following a foul on Amodine Webb. A fastbreak goal from Kathryn Fudge following her own interception brought the score within two and then Holly Lam-Moores further narrowed the defecit to just one goal, smashing home on 14:25 following a quick release from GB 'keeper Sarah Hargreaves - but this was to be the closest the home side saw themselves come to their guests in the match.

Stefansdottir quickly scored with a penalty before GB captain Lynn McCafferty saw the first of her two first half two-minute warnings take effect with Stefansdottir following up the foul by converting from the subsequent penalty to make it 7-4 to Iceland.

Fairbrother again took the initiative with a goal in GB's next attack as the home side, spurred on by the passionate crowd, found a way around the tight Icelandic defence. Both sides exchanged scores to take it to the first time out with the Icelanders up 9-6.

Following the time out Iceland came out refreshed and scored six unanswered goals in a eight-minute period which saw McCafferty serve her second two-minute warning on 24:37.

Stefansdottir scored soon after and following an Icelandic timeout and missed penalty, Icelandic right-back Sunna Jonsdottir used her physical presence to score two quick goals to make it 15-6.

Kelsi Fairbrother scored the hosts first goal for nearly 10 minutes from the penalty following a foul by Icelandic pivot Anna Ursula Gudmundsdottir which saw her serve a two-minute warning.

To compound the half-time score Louise Jukes was served with her first two-minute penalty moments before the break.

The second half started with Hanna Stefansdottir scoring for the visitors just 20 seconds in but GB came out fighting and began finding ways through the physical Icelandic defence with the sheer will and power of captain Lynn McCafferty and the skill and pace of Holly Lam-Moores who both made their mark on the scoresheet.

Sarah Hargreaves in the GB goal kept up her fine form with a string of fine saves which saw the score kept close.

Britt Goodwin and Kelsi Fairbrother scored three between them from the penalty spot, but Stefansdottir continued her fine form supported by her team mates which saw the physically impressive Icelanders increase their lead which never looked in doubt.

The result saw them move to second in Group E, with the other match in the group - Austria v France - currently being played.

Next up for GB is the tough return trip to the island of Iceland and it's captial Rejykavik this Saturday for the return match, throw-off at 2pm.

Report: Andrew McSteen.
Picture: Michele Davison.

GB v Iceland Preview

Great Britain women return to the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre tonight for their first 2010 EHF Women's European Championships Qualification Match of the year against an Iceland side who currently lie just one win above GB in Group 3.

The last time GB were in competitive action was against the former World Champions France back in October, again at Crystal Palace, where the visitors ran out 42-16 winners. France, who have also beaten tonight's visitors Iceland, currently sit atop the group with four points, followed by Austria who narrowly beat GB back in October.

GB go into the game with injury worries over both goalkeepers - Sarah Hargreaves and Laura Innes - whilst Jeanett Andersen and Ewa Palies have not joined the squad because of injuries picked up playing for their clubs. 23-year-old Marie Gerbron, who can play on the right wing or at right back and who plays her club Handball for Octeville Sur Mer in France, is expected to make her debut tonight.

A healthy crowd is taking their seats here at the National Sports Centre, expectant of a performance from the home team and you can see how they do by checking back on BritishHandball.com throughout the match which throws off at 7pm GMT.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GB Coach Holmris Upbeat Ahead of Iceland Match

GREAT Britain women’s head coach Jesper Holmris has backed his team to compete with Iceland in their Euro 2010 clash at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, despite injury problems in his squad.

Two players have been ruled out through injury, while both the main goalkeepers are recovering - but Holmris is still upbeat about their chances.

Both Jeanett Andersen and Ewa Palies have not joined the squad because of injuries picked up playing for their clubs, while both goalkeepers Sarah Hargreaves and Laura Innes are recovering from injury.

However, both have trained this week and expect to play a part in the game. Amondine Webb has joined the team, while debutant Marie Gerbron gives Holmris an extra option on the right.

“We’re looking forward to the match, but unfortunately we have a few injuries,” he said. “It’s particularly frustrating for Ewa because she hasn’t been able to play for us in official matches before she is released by the French Federation, and now she is free she’s injured.

“Both our main goalkeepers are coming back from injury, but Cerys Walker has come back into the team just for this camp which is great to cover the goalkeeper situation.

“But there are positives for us - we’ve brought Amondine Webb into the team at late notice, and the injuries will mean more court time for Kathryn Fudge which is good for her.

“And our new player, Marie Gerbron, gives us other options. She’s a right wing but can play at right back too which means we can swap Lyn Byl to right back also which gives us more options.

“For me, the Iceland match is more about process than the goals. They are a very good team. They beat Austria which was a shock, but I still hope that we can compete with Iceland.

“They had a very good under-21 team a few years ago and we are now seeing them come through to the seniors. They also have some experienced players, so it’s a good mix. They’re robust, tall and have a good attitude in the team.

“Of course the result is important, but for us it’s not really about winning or losing - it’s about our process goals. We have a plan of progress in which we need to be competitive with Iceland by the end of 2010 and I think we’re on track to meet that aim.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

GB Women Prepare for Iceland Clash

The Great Britain Women’s Handball Team are preparing to take on Iceland in London later this month in the latest of their 2010 European Championship qualification matches.

The match, at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, is on March 31 and is Great Britain’s third group fixture following matches against Austria and former world champions France back in October.

Great Britain qualified for this stage of the competition with a thrilling victory over Finland in Liverpool last year, a match which gave many their first chance to see for themselves just how exciting handball is.

And despite losing to Austria (20-30) and France (16-42), Great Britain remain optimistic of victory over Iceland.

Following the clash against Iceland on March 31, both teams will travel to Iceland for the away leg three days later on April 3 in Reykjavik.

Having scored 11 goals over the two previous matches, Britt Goodwin looks set to be included in the squad again and will be eager to bag more goals in front of a partisan British crowd.

For further details and ticket information, please go to http://www.britishhandball.com/

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Prieto Signs for Top Hungarian Club

GREAT Britain right winger Seb Prieto has signed up to play for top Hungarian club Kesckemet for the rest of the season.

The 23-year-old from London has moved in search of more regular competitive handball as he works towards helping GB through the qualification stages of the 2012 European Championships.

Top-scorer with six goals in GB’s opening game of the 2011 World Championships in Finland earlier this year, Prieto said: “It was a perfect opportunity to move to a club where I was going to get game time, because with my old club in Denmark, Holstebro, although the training and club was great I needed game experience.

“I will be able to get game time here in Kesckemet. There are only six games left this season, but hopefully it will be worth it.”

GB Head Coach Dragan Djukic coaches domestic handball in Hungary, so when he heard about the opening at Kesckemet he helped Prieto move swiftly to secure the spot in one of the top leagues in Europe.

Lorraine Brown, British Handball’s Performance Director, added: “His move to Kecskemet in Hungary is a great opportunity for the remaining three months of the season and allows him to gain some top class experience before our spring preparations for the 2012 European Qualification tournament.”

Prieto and the rest of the GB men’s squad will come to London next month for a two-game series, and then in May will travel to Galicia for a four-team tournament.

Then after trials and tests back in the UK, the team will prepare for the five-day Euro 2012 qualification tournament at Crystal Palace against Cyprus, Estonia and Bulgaria.

Monday, March 01, 2010

British Handball Issues Rallying Call for Volunteers

British Handball has launched the biggest ever volunteer programme in their history, as they aim to build a large pool of skilled workers to help make handball a success in Britain - both at the London 2012 Olympics and beyond.

More than 80 volunteer positions are being advertised on the BritishHandball.com website, and with a vast range of positions available there is sure to be something to interest everyone.

“If people want to be involved with the London 2012 Olympics, they really should get involved now,” said British Handball CEO Paul Goodwin.

“They need to gain experience in their chosen role, so that when the Olympic positions come available they are already tooled up to do the job.”

With a series of international events already set to take place in Britain involving both the GB men’s and women’s teams British Handball is looking to put in place a skilled workforce which will help as they bid to host major international events in the future.

Positions currently available include everything from Deputy Event Manager and Technical Officials to Team Hosts, Public Relations Officers, Official Event Photographers, Ticketing Officers and Stewards.

The list of vacancies is growing daily, so please keep checking back to BritishHandball.com for information on new posts.

Please register your interest in any of the opportunities listed by e-mailing office@britishhandball.com.