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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Debut Hopes at Great Britain v Finland

GREAT Britain Women will be hoping to repeat their 2009 victory over Finland when they play them again - twice - in the qualifying stages of the 2012 European Championship this weekend (June 3-4).

GB won both legs of their Euro 2010 tie, culminating in a thrilling first home victory for the British team at the Echo Arena in Liverpool two years ago to make it through to the group stages, and will be aiming to do the same again on Friday and Saturday night.

But this time both matches are at home - at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London to be exact - and this time there is a host of other handball action to keep spectators well entertained.

The first match is on Friday evening at 7.30pm, while the second is exactly 24 hours later.

Friday’s match could mark a first official international cap for two members of the team - Yvonne Leuthold and Dani Sposi (pictured).

The pair have been involved with the GB set-up for many years, having played in unofficial internationals and attended many training camps around the world.

Leuthold is now eligible to play after a three-year wait for her clearance to come through. And after several years of living in London, Sposi has also finally received a British passport.

It may also mark an GB international debut for Charlotte Le Blanc, a welcome new addition to the team who plays her club handball with HC de Belley in France.

But of course the match is being played in familiar surroundings for much of the team, who are settling into their new homes in the Crystal Palace area as part of British Handball’s exciting link-up with GLL who run a number of sporting venues around the capital, including the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace.

GLL are providing help with accommodation, training facilities, jobs and a host of other areas, and we are indebted to them for their expert assistance.

The last time Finland and GB met over two legs was in the 2010 European Championships, where the top-scorers were Britt Goodwin and Holly Lam-Moores with eight each, while Annette Tallqvist was Finland’s best, also bagging eight goals.

Tallqvist scored five goals for Finland in their 25-25 draw against Portugal in the 2011 World Championship qualifying stage, a result which was to provide their only points of the championship.
But GB fared better, beating Slovakia and Cyprus to finish third in their group and only narrowly miss out on reaching the next stage.

Mohr Scores 17 as GB Men Battle Against Turkey

GREAT Britain men turned in strong performances against Turkey in friendly matches this week, narrowly losing to a top-class opposition and a partisan support.

Chris Mohr (pictured) scored nine goals for GB as they lost out 30-33 in their first clash, and he bagged another eight in the second match which GB again narrowly lost 26-30.

It was a marked improvement from earlier in the week, when GB had lost out 33-20 to Turkey A.

“When we played Turkey in the Loughborough Series earlier this year they only beat us by two goals,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “But they had two or three of their main players out for that game as they couldn’t get visas, so I think they wanted to play us at full strength.

“It’s a good test for us as we’re about on the same level, but their team is older and more experienced with a lot of players in their late 20s and early 30s.

“They play a typical Mediterranean style of handball. They have an aggressive defence, we normally play against 6-0 defences, whereas they are quite open and similar to African and Asian teams in a lot of ways.”

In the first match, as well as Mohr scoring nine goals John Pearce bagged four, while Sebastian Prieto scored six in the second match, while Chris McDermott added five.

The team will now return to London for a couple of days of preparation before heading off to Brazil for an eight-day training camp at Sao Paolo where they will take on their hosts in several matches.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GB Men Prepare for Turkey Meet

GREAT Britain men have begun their busy summer of international action this week, flying to Turkey for a training camp which will see them take on their hosts three times.

Following that the team will travel to Brazil and on to Lanzarote, as they continue to play teams with differing styles of handball to give themselves experience of a wide variety of nations.

The week-long training camp in Turkey will include two matches against Turkey’s first team, while they will also play a second-string Turkish outfit.

They are due to play Turkey A on May 26, and Turkey B on May 27. Following a rest day, they will then take on Turkey A again on May 29.

“Turkey will be a good opponent for us,” said assistant coach Bill Baillie. “When we played them in the Loughborough Series earlier this year they only beat us 28-26.

“But they had two or three of their main players out for that game as they couldn’t get visas, so I think they’re keen to take us on again.

“It’s a good test for us as we’re about on the same level, but their team is older and more experienced with a lot of players in their late 20s and early 30s.

“Hopefully, because we’re playing their B team too, we will get to see some of their younger players too.

“They play a typical Mediterranean style of handball. They have an aggressive defence, we normally play against 6-0 defences, whereas they are quite open and similar to African and Asian teams in a lot of ways.”

TastyLimburg Sign Player Sponsorship Deals

BRITISH Handball sponsor TastyLimburg have stepped up their support of the GB national women’s handball team by providing personal sponsorship deals with three of the GB team.
The agreement was signed with Zoe Van Der Weel, Holly Lam-Moores who will become ambassadors of the TastyLimburg brand and Lynn McCafferty who will be sponsored by Dutch Engineering giant Stork, during a reception in London, and will help the players hugely as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics.

The reception was held at the Harrington Hall Hotel in Kensington, where TastyLimburg welcomed officials from the 2012 Olympics, from the region of Limburg in Holland, and from business from across Britain keen to link up with the forward-thinking brand.

Accompanied by some fine food brought direct from the region, TastyLimburg announced their plans to host an Olympic lounge in the capital during the games next year, in conjunction with British Handball.

The lounge will take the form of a Brazilian beach club, and will feature a beach handball court as well as hospitality areas.

Following the sponsorship signing with TastyLimburg, several of the GB players who have just moved to London attended a meeting with Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce, where Chamber members were interested to meet their new residents and explore ways of making the most of their new Olympic-hopeful neighbours.

* British Handball’s next promotion event will see the GB men’s team attend a Handball Challenge at St Pancras International Station on June 1 where they will be encouraging members of the public to pitch their skills in a game of accuracy and speed against the GB players.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

European Action Comes to London

GREAT Britain Women will take on Finland in the qualifying phase of the 2012 European Championships in London next month.

GB will be hoping for a similar result to the last time they played Finland, where they beat them over two legs to qualify for the group stages of the 2010 competition.

The matches are on June 3 and 4, both at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre starting at 7.30pm.

The June 4 game will be preceded by a day of domestic action, with youth matches and the EHA Cup finals being staged.

Originally planned to be a four-team tournament with Greece and Israel, the Euro 2012 group has been split into two sub-section with the winner of the GB v Finland matches going into Group Three with Russia, Montenegro and Poland.

The finals of the competition will be held from December 2-16 2012 in the Netherlands.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Coach Holmris: Life in London in Fantastic!

THE first members of the Great Britain Women’s Handball Team have arrived at their new base at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London, as their preparations for the London 2012 Olympics gather pace.

Most of the squad will be living, working and training in London ahead of the Games next year, including Head Coach Jesper Holmris (pictured) and Assistant Vigdis Holmeset.

“Training and living in London in the lead up to the Olympics is a fantastic opportunity for exposure and promotion of handball and it will definitely be a huge motivation and inspiration for the team,” said Holmris.

“Back in 2007 a centralised programme in Aarhus, Denmark, was launched. But due to the funding cut in 2009 the players have been spread out all over Europe and several players have not been in an ideal club situation since then.

“Thanks to the hard work of British Handball and GLL and the commitment of the players it is now possible to come back together as a team in Crystal Palace which is fantastic.

“From a coaching point of view it has been clear from the beginning that a centralised programme was the ideal option for the GB women's team. It is simply giving us the chance to be best possible prepared for London 2012.

“The players will have all the support staff available and we will be training together on a daily basis. That really gives us an opportunity to fine-tune the tactics and develop the GB style and concept.

“In terms of the strength and conditioning training the big advantage is the contact time with the coach and the group motivation obviously but also the monitoring and planning will be much better.

“The downside of being based In London is the lack of competitive opponents and exposure to top level handball just around the corner.

“But the fact that we don't compete as a team in a club league gives us a very flexible programme which will optimise our chances to compete abroad and play different styles of handball more often than the international weeks of handball allow us to do.

“We have been talking about a centralised programme for a long time..... Now it is finally happening!”

British Universities Team Heads for Poland

A YOUNG British Universities team is competing in their first international event in Poland this weekend.

Selected largely from Lincoln and Loughborough due to a clash with the League play-offs, the event in Krakow will give many of the team their first taste of international handball against teams from Poland and Latvia in the Rectors Cup.

A tough five matches in 26 hours awaits the team, and Manager Rickie Bailey said: “That presents a real challenge, but we’re delighted to be taking part against experienced opposition in what is traditionally a top-class event, offering a real step-up in standard for our team.”