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Friday, June 15, 2012

GB Men Battle in Euro 2014

GREAT Britain Men made good use of their matches in the qualifying group of the 2014 European Championship, putting on three good performances against strong opposition as their preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games continued.

The team, who travelled to Italy for the three matches straight from a three-week training camp in Serbia, got stronger as they went on, and only narrowly lost their last two matches, against Greece and Italy.

Steven Larsson once again proved Great Britain’s top scorer with 18 goals over the three games, while Chris Mohr and Gawain Vincent both scored 13.

GB opened the tournament with a tough clash against eventual group winners Switzerland, and after a good first half which ended with GB only four goals behind at 12-16, they went down 21-38.

Against Greece the following day, GB proved stronger in the second half. But having been 13-21 down at the break they couldn’t quite claw their way back, but did win the second period 17-14 to narrow the deficit to 30-35.

Finally, GB took on Italy, the team they beat during their tournament in Loughborough last year. But on home turf the Italians proved a tough opponent.

Nevertheless, GB battled well and were not overawed. 11-14 down at half time, they matched their hosts goal for goal in the second half and ended up losing narrowly 26-29.

* GB men now enter a vital phase of their Olympic preparations.

Players have now returned home to their families for a short break where they will also focus on individual fitness programmes.

They return to Serbia on June 25 for more intensive training and will take on the Serbian Under-21 side on June 30, as well as playing the Hungarian national side on July 12.

From Serbia the team will head to the Team GB holding camp at Loughborough University on July 16 where they will join up with the GB Women’s team and athletes from other sports before heading to the Olympic Village on July 23. They will then have one last friendly match against Serbia on July 26 before the Olympic tournament begins.

* Photo by Michael Barnett

Thursday, June 14, 2012

GB Women in Spanish Test

GREAT Britain Women gained valuable experience of a different style of handball when they played in the Copa de les Naciones hosted by the Catalonia, Galacia and Basque Country handball federation last week.

GB played in the same event last year, but showed just how much they have improved by reaching the final of this year’s event. They lost by just one goal in a hotly-contested final against Galicia which put the local referees under a lot of pressure.

After arriving on Friday Great Britain played a friendly match against a local Second Division side which they easily won 35-23 to give themselves a boost ahead of the Tournament. The victory came despite several key players being rested, and gave others in the squad chance to shine.

Great Britain took on Catalunia in their opening match and won ten goals with Britt Goodwin and Lyn Byl playing particularly well.

After a strong start GB were 7-2 ahead in the final against Galicia with Marie Gerbron playing superbly, but their rivals fought back to level at half time.

The match continued to be closely fought, but in the end the local team won by one goal – however, GB took great heart from their performance.

“We had problems one on one in defence, and also missed too many 100 per cent chances,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris. “It’s a massive disappointment that we couldn't win the tournament but it was really good for us to play the Spanish style of handball and was good preparation for us.”

GB captain Lynn McCafferty (pictured) was voted as best player of the tournament.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Serbian preparation for GB Men

GREAT Britain Men warmed up for their Euro 2014 qualifying matches this weekend with a three-week training camp in the Serbian mountains.

The tough preparations, which are also geared to getting the team ready for this summer’s Olympic Games in London, put the squad through some gruelling strength and conditioning drills under the watchful eye of coaches Dragan Djukic and Bill Baillie.

Based in Kopaonik, the team have played two training games against top Serbian League teams which gave them the chance to give all 22 players in the squad a run-out and stake their claim for a place in the 14-man squad for Euro 2014 and the Olympics.

"We have been based at the Serbian football federations new training centre at Stara Pazova since 2nd June,” said Baillie. “The facilities have been excellent and we have completed all the testing with the Serbian institute of Sport.

“We’re looking forward to the Euro 2014 qualification, this is a tough group with all four teams looking for a result.

"We have no injury concerns and will travel to Italy with 16 players, all players have been showing steady improvement and the staff and players are looking forward to the opener against Switzerland on the 8th June.”

"The training regime implemented in Serbia included long distance orienteering challenges of up to 15 kilometres through the forests and mountains. They also cut thick logs into set lengths, built transportable structures to be carried 500 metres up the mountain, and even tried local folk dancing!

Great Britain begin their Euro 2014 campaign on Friday with a match against Switzerland at 1745 local time. They then take on Greece at the same time on Saturday before playing hosts Italy at 2030 on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

On-form GB battle well against Russia

GREAT Britain Women completed their Euro 2012 qualification campaign on a high, causing hosts Russia problems for much of the game in Togliatti before going down 31-22.

Russia are one of the top five handballing nations in the world and have been drawn to meet GB again in the Olympics, but Jesper Holmris and his side proved a match for them once again, despite having 3,000 partisan Russian fans packed into the arena.

GB only lost the home leg at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre by eight goals, and Russia were expected to put in a much-improved performance in their home match.

However, they were only 16-11 ahead at half time, and the GB defence continued to frustrate them and Russia only won by nine goals.

Marie Gerbron (pictured) top-scored for GB with six goals, while Holly Lam-Moores added four.

“It was a fantastic GB performance,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris.

“It was a very motivated Russian team with all their best players available who started the game, but Sarah Hargreaves also had a great start to the game saving three 100 per cent chances which helped GB close the gap to 6-3.

“The rest of the first half we played really disciplined in attack and created good opportunities both against their 6:0 and 5:1 defence.

“With two minutes left of the first half and a man up we really had the chance to level the score but instead Russia scored twice and the first half ended 16-11.

“The second half was really positive in the way that we stuck to our game plan, we did not run out of steam and we scored more goals on fast breaks than Russia.

“All players contributed to a really strong GB performance against one of the best teams in the world.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

GB Women show promise in final home match before Olympics

A STRONG first half performance from Great Britain women was not enough for them to overcome the challenge of Montenegro at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London in their final competitive home match before the Olympic Games.

GB were trailing by just two goals at 12-14 at half time in their penultimate Euro 2012 qualification match on Wednesday evening, but couldn’t maintain their early pressure and as the visitors – who included many from the Champions League winning Buducnost side - ran out 22-37 winners.

Five goals from Lyn Byl (pictured) made her GB’s top scorer, while Ewa Palies and Marie Gerbron added three each, but it was a strong defensive effort from Great Britain which caused Montenegro such problems before the break.

However, GB couldn’t sustain their effort, and Katarina Bulatovic ended as the match’s best scorer with nine, while Biljana Pavicevic added eight.

“It was a very good first half and it was the best we can play,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris. “But we need more performances like the first half because I am not happy with the second half.

“A few of our key players ran out of steam and we made too many technical mistakes, and at this level teams like Montenegro will punish you.”

GB Women now travel to Russia for their final Euro 2012 match, and will be looking to put in a good performance against a side they are due to meet in the Olympics.

* Before the match, Holmris had taken part in the draw for the 2012 Olympic Handball Tournament, which set his team against Angola, Brazil, Croatia, Russia and Montenegro.

The Great Britain men’s team were drawn in what is widely seen as a tougher group, which includes Tunisia, Argentina, Iceland, Sweden and France.

With the draw having been made, the fixtures for the Olympic Handball Tournament will be confirmed shortly, but GB women look set to start on July 28 with a game against Montenegro (7.30pm), while GB men will start the next day, July 29, against France (7.30pm start).

* Photo: Ian Hebden.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

GB Women preparing for Montenegro challenge

SOME tickets are still available for the Euro 2012 clash between Great Britain Women and Montenegro at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Wednesday.

The penultimate match of Great Britain’s qualifying campaign, it will provide the team with vital top-level match experience ahead of this summer’s London Olympics.

The team have played Holland twice in friendly fixtures recently as well as Hungarian and Danish domestic teams, which will have given the team an edge which could help them give Montenegro a run for their money in Wednesday’s match, which begins at 7pm.

Prior to the match, the draw for the Olympic handball tournament will take place with officials from the International Handball Federation, London 2012 and Team GB present to oversee proceedings.

GB Men enter final Olympic preparation phase

GREAT Britain men’s handball team have begun the final preparation phase of their journey to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and now have a series of camps and competitions.

Currently in Serbia for two weeks, the squad will be focusing on strength and conditioning for the first period before taking on some top domestic competition is friendly fixtures.

From there they will travel to Italy to take part in the four-team qualifying group of the 2014 European Championships. They will face the hosts Italy as well as Switzerland and Greece in their group.

While in Serbia, the team will undergo a series of gruelling tests and drills under the watchful eye of Serbian Head Coach Dragan Djukic and his team of specialist coaches, all of which are designed to leave the team in optimum shape to be competitive with the best teams in the world at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Narrow defeat for GB Women in Holland

GREAT Britain Women came within one goal of beating 2012 European Championship finalists Holland in a friendly fixture played in Geleen on Wednesday.

Six goals each from Kathryn Fudge and Marie Gerbron helped underpin the great performance, while Zoe Van Der Weel scored four and Kelsi Fairbrother and Lyn Byl added three each. And there was a good 44 per cent save ratio from the GB goalkeepers.

The second of two matches, GB looked sharp and their performance was a world away from the one they put on 24 hours earlier when they lost convincingly to the same side having arrived in the country just hours earlier.

The latest in a series of friendly fixtures, the match was just one of the ways the team are preparing for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

British Handball team up with CSC

BRITISH Handball has teamed up with Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) to spread some handball love throughout the country this spring!

CSC has signed up as British Handball’s official location partner for a national tour of British Handball’s mobile shooting arena, which gives members of the public the chance to try their hand at throwing a handball into a goal – and win some top prizes!

The tour will take in seven CSC shopping centres across the country, and each will see Great Britain athletes in attendance to tell the public what a great sport handball is.

The tour will be taking place across seven CSC centres, including:

Victoria Centre, Nottingham – Saturday 28th April

Broadmarsh, Nottingham – Sunday 29th April

The Trafford Centre, Manchester – Friday 4th May

Eldon Square, Newcastle – Saturday 12th May

Metrocentre, Gateshead – Sunday 13th May

Lakeside, Thurrock – Saturday 26th May

The Glades, Bromley – Sunday 27th May

The UK tour will also incorporate visits to local schools in Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Essex to encourage the next generation of youngsters to take up this fast growing sport.

Paul Goodwin, British Handball’s Chief Executive, said: "We’re really looking forward to showing the public what handball is all about. It’s a great sport to play and watch, and it’s massive overseas. Our aim is to use the 2012 Olympics to make it more popular in Britain."

And Richard Bailey, Central Marketing Manager at CSC said, "Being chosen to be the British Handball Association’s official location partner for its tour of the UK highlights the popularity of our shopping centres and the ideal geographic spread of these locations across the country.

"2012 is such an amazing year for British sport and it will be fantastic to give the local communities surrounding our centres the opportunity to get involved with such a fast growing sport.

"It is also great to be able to support the British Handball Association and the British Handball team during this key sporting year, so we hope to see lots of out shoppers giving it a go when the tour visits CSC centres across the country over the next month."

British Handball link-up with Rehband

BRITISH Handball’s preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games has been given a boost after they teamed up with leading sports support supplier Rehband to help power their performance.

Under the agreement, all British Handball athletes will be provided with Rehband products, which are designed and developed by the company’s in-house expert design team which has extensive experience in the physiotherapy and textile industries.

Hugely popular in Scandinavia, Rehband are rapidly expanding in other markets across the world and their products are available in more than 25 countries.

They have a strong portfolio of braces, supports, protection products and functional clothing. The latest addition to the range is a line of Compression Wear, including products with built in protective pads for intensive contact sports.

Paul Goodwin, British Handball Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside Rehband as we enter the final stages of preparation for the London Olympics. In any sport the difference between winning and losing can be tiny, so anything we can do that may give us that crucial competitive edge could make all the difference.”

And Anthony Egan, Sales Director of Rehband UK, added: “'Handball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK and will gain great exposure during the London 2012 Olympics. Rehband UK are delighted to be the official supplier to the British Handball Association.”

Fans of British Handball can see for themselves the quality of Rehband products, thanks to a special 30 per cent discount being offered for British Handball members.

To benefit from this special offer, please go to www.rehbandsport.co.uk and when checking out of their online shop please use the code BHA30.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Handball on track to deliver Olympic legacy

THE future of elite handball in Britain took a major step forward this week, after British Handball, England Handball and Scottish Handball agreed a clear pathway for the development of international players.

Handball is the fastest growing sport in the country at the moment, with tens of thousands of children and young people across the country being introduced to the sport as part of plans to fully harness the potential legacy from the London Olympics.

But under this new partnership, those young people will now have a clear pathway to follow as they aim to represent their country at European, World and Olympic level.

The news helps cement handball’s place in Britain’s sporting landscape after 2012, with real long-term plans being made for the future.

At international level Great Britain teams will play in official European, World and Olympic competitions, while Scotland and England teams will be selected from the Academies and continue to participate in UK and European training camps and tournaments.

Discussions are ongoing between England Handball, Scottish Handball and the Irish Olympic Handball Association to establish a Home International series from youth level up to seniors.

Lorraine Brown, British Handball’s Performance Director, said: “It’s fantastic to be working in collaboration with the Home Nations. The work they’ve done over the last two years building a foundation for the game will put us in good stead for the future.

“To have clarity about what our role will be in the future can only benefit the sport, and this will ensure there is a sustainable system in the future for Rio 2016 and into 2020.”

And Mike Briers, chairman of England Handball, added: “There is a tremendous influx of new players who are being attracted to the sport of handball. The Player Pathway will offer all of them a real opportunity to progress from junior club players, through the age groups, to GB representation in European, World and Olympic Competitions.”

And Stephen Neilson from Scottish Handball added: “Scottish players have played a big part in the existing GB teams, and we aim to maximise our involvement in the future. Our system of regular primary and secondary school championships will continue with youth club championships expanding to five age categories next season.”

And Mick Hegarty, England Handball’s Director of Performance, stated: “These exciting decisions are a positive reflection of how keen both BHA and EHA are to work together to produce podium quality teams in the not too distant future.”

England Handball’s existing four-year Player Pathway Programme for 9-13-year-olds, which has been growing and developing the talent pool of elite youth players, will be re-branded as the England Talent Pathway (ETP), which will incorporate a network of Regional and National Academies for players from 12-18-years-old.

Scottish Handball will continue with the building of national age group teams which will now integrate into the Great Britain Performance Programme and define a new four year player pathway strategy starting in 2013 which will be aligned with the Rio Olympic cycle.

Photo: Michele Davison.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GB Under-20 women in World Champs action

GREAT Britain’s newly-formed Under-20 women’s team played their first international matches at the World Championships in Poland last week.

A young squad went out to play three matches in the European qualification phase of the event, and although they lost all three they learned some valuable lessons.

Playing Germany, Poland and Italy – who have a centralised program – over three days was a tough call with GB starting well in each of their games, but eventually the power and experience of the other teams came to the fore.

Coach Donna Hankinson said afterwards: “We knew that we would be facing an almost impossible task, but for us this is the beginning of an ongoing process for this age group, we wanted to expose the players to this level of competition to open their eyes to the work that needs to be done.

“We set realistic goals and emphasised to the players that the goals were the opposition and not the actual teams that we playing against, and in every game we came within a whisker of meeting our objectives. We came to the tournament with our eyes open and we leave educated and motivated to the task ahead.”

Danielle Nillsson finished top scorer for GB with a creditable 16 goals over the three matches, while there were outstanding efforts in defence from Heidi Le Blanc and Ellie Whitehead.

Lorraine Brown, British Handball’s Performance Director, added: “There were some very strong handball nations there, but we scored plenty of goals against them which was fantastic. It was a very difficult tournament for a young squad. The aim for the players and coaches was to learn game by game.

“The aim was to understand the level the players are aiming for in the next cycle at Under-20 level and to improve on technical faults and game understanding, and they achieved all those internal goals.

“The coaches gained valuable international experience in their first time coaching at that level, and it was a great opportunity for Charlotte Le Blanc to captain the side and was a good chance for her to develop her leadership skills in a way that she doesn’t get with the senior side.”

Men's Olympic line-up revealed

THE line-up for the men’s Olympic handball competition has been completed after the final qualification tournaments took place last week.

Great Britain know who the 11 other teams competing in London will be, although the draw for the group stages won’t happen until May 30 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The 12 teams who will compete at London are: Great Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Iceland, Denmark, Argentina, Korea and Tunisia.

Dragan Djukic, GB Men’s Head Coach (pictured), said: “This looks like being the best handball event ever!

“Our target is still to play competitive games, and to be as close as possible to non-European teams. Also to use every single game to promote the fantastic game of handball.

“Our last game against Korea give us hope to believe that, with spectators behind us, maybe we can make some miracle and take a win. One dream is close to become reality!”

The line-up for the women’s handball event won’t be known until the qualifying tournaments are completed next month.

Photo: Michael Barnett

Saturday, April 07, 2012

GB Men give Korea a scare at Pinsent Masons' London Handball Cup

GREAT Britain men saved their best performance until last in the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Saturday, narrowly losing out to Korea 25-29.

After two defeats to world-class Tunisia and Argentina in the first couple of days, GB men turned on the style against the Koreans – none more so than Steven Larsson who used his height and skill in equal measure to score 14 goals for GB.

GB got better as the tournament went on despite playing against three of the best teams in the world who have qualified by right for the London Olympics this summer.

The plan for the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup was to give Great Britain experience of playing against the top nations so they can better prepare for this summer’s Olympics. On that score it is very much ‘job done’ with lessons learned, and Great Britain will take heart from their performance against a very strong Korean side.

Great Britain’s Steven Larsson finished the tournament as top-scorer with 19 goals, while Korea’s Yi-Kyeong Jeong scored a total of 15.

Tunisia won the event overall with two wins and a draw, while Korea finished second.

Great Britain men will now begin preparations for the qualification tournament for the 2014 European Championship in Italy from June 8-10, where they will face Switzerland and Greece as well as the host nation.

Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup
April 5: Tunisia 30 Korea 25, Great Britain 15 Argentina 32.
April 6: Korea 31 Argentina 25, Great Britain 15 Tunisia 41.
April 7: Argentina 23 Tunisia 23, Great Britain 25 Korea 29.

Photo: Michael Barnett

Friday, April 06, 2012

Djukic praises Argentina after GB lose opening clash

GREAT Britain Men’s Head Coach Dragan Djukic heaped praise on Argentina’s handball team after seeing his side beaten 15-32 in their opening match of the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Thursday.

Djukic’s team defended well at times in the face of some world class attacking play by an Argentinian team tipped by some for a medal at this summer’s Olympic Games.

And in attack Great Britain’s Steven Larsson found the net four times, while Ciaran Williams added three. Ben Murray scored two on his international debut, and Chris Mohr also scored twice.

Argentina had 11 players on the scoresheet, with Juan Manuel Vazquez their top-scorer with six.

“This is the first time we’ve played against non-European teams who have already qualified for the Olympics, and they play amazing handball,” said Djukic afterwards. “I’m very happy that we have a chance to play against them now, because we must play them at the Olympics.

“Because we’ve had the experience to play them now, we will be better at the Olympics.

“We started both halves too cautiously, and we gave them too much respect. We went 0-7 down before we scored, and in the second half we scored once in 15 minutes.

In Thursday’s other match Tunisia won 30-25 after a close battle with South Korea.

Friday’s programme sees Korea take on Argentina at 1630, while Great Britain face Tunisia at 1900.

And on Saturday, Tunisia v Argentina starts at 1230, while Great Britain v Korea is at 1500.

Matches will be streamed live at www.britishhandball.com

* Photo: Michael Barnett.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

World Champs test for GB Women U20s

THE new Great Britain under-20 women’s team head to Poland this week to compete in the World Under-20 Championships qualifying tournament.

Only recent formed after exhaustive trials, the Under-20 squad will take on hosts Poland, Germany and Italy in Pruszkow, with three matches in three days from April 5-7.

It is the first time a GB team has competed in this tournament, and it will prove to be a baptism of fire for the youngsters.

The GB team is largely made up of young players who look set to form the next youth and junior two-year programmes.

Germany are top seeds in the group, although Poland will aim to make the most of home advantage. And Italy have had a special talent programme in place for the past two years which has produced much of their team.

Great Britain will be aiming to learn from the tournament and be as competitive as possible before coming home to build on their experience.

The matches are due to be streamed live on the internet via this link - http://imprezylive.pl/online_pruszkow.php

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Britain Men drawn in Euro 2014

GREAT Britain men will play in the qualifying tournament for the 2014 European Championships in June, as an important part of their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

They have been drawn in a four-team group alongside Italy, Switzerland and Greece which will take place from June 8-10. Italy were drawn as host nation, although this has not yet been confirmed.

Head Coach Dragan Djukic said: “It is the hardest possible draw, and it looks like the perfect opportunity to finish the first part of our Olympic preparation with excellent competitive games.

“We already played against all three teams (Greece at the beginning of 2009, Swiss in the Yellow Cup 2010 and Italy at home last year), and now it will be interesting to check our progress in last three years.

“For our players, this is another excellent opportunity to play again some of the world’s best players who play in the best European leagues (German Bundesliga, French League). Swiss players Manuel Liniger (Lemgo) and Andy Schmid (Rhein Neckar Lowen), from Greece there is Vasilakis and Sanakis (Melsungen) and from Italy Michele Skatar (Nantes).

“We are maybe "outsiders" from the previous results and our handball tradition, but we will try to play all three games on the best possible level and spring some surprises.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tough Test Ahead for Great Britain Men

Great Britain men’s handball team will face some of their toughest opponents yet when they play in next month’s Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup.

The event will see Great Britain battle with Tunisia, Argentina and South Korea – all of whom have qualified for this summer’s London Olympics – from April 5-7 at Crystal Palace National Sport Centre.

Head Coach Dragan Djukic said: “This tournament is one of the biggest sport events this year in the handball world and certainly the best handball tournament ever on British soil.

“The fact that all four teams have already booked their places at the Olympic Games says a lot about the quality of handball. We face the champions of the Asian, African and American continents.

“For Great Britain, this is a good opportunity for our very young team to meet some of the world’s best teams for the first time, and fight with them on home ground.”

The schedule for the tournament is - April 5: 1630: Tunisia v Korea, 1900: GB v Argentina. April 6: 1630: Korea v Argentina, 1900: GB v Tunisia. April 7: 1230: Tunisia v Argentina, 1500: GB v Korea.

Captain Bobby White, 29 and from Milton Keynes, echoed Djukic’s sentiments: “This tournament is going to be a perfect test for us as our preparations for the Olympic Games start to build momentum. Tunisia, Argentina and South Korea have all qualified for London 2012, and what better way to prepare than to play teams that are going to be there.

“We will be looking to compete well with all three teams, but we will not be worried if results don’t go our way. We will be looking to learn as much about our opponents as possible and put what we learn into action come Games time.”

And 26-year-old winger Mark Hawkins, from Horsham in Sussex, added: “It is great for handball in this country that we can host tournaments of this nature featuring the continental champions from Asia, America and Africa.

“Hopefully it is a sign of what is to come in the future and post-2012, to have regular top level international handball being played in the UK.”

Battling GB Women lose out in Poland

SOME strong periods of play from Great Britain women was not enough to stop them losing out to Poland twice in the last week in the Euro 2012 qualifying tournament.

Head Coach Jesper Holmris was pleased with his squad’s performances in periods of both matches, but overall it was not enough and GB cannot now reach the finals of the competition.

Last Thursday’s 33-20 defeat to Poland at Loughborough University saw GB compete well in the first half and they only trailed by two goals at the break. However, Poland stepped up after the break to take the win.

And the return leg on Sunday evening in Elblag saw GB lose out 29-20, after trailing 16-8 at half time. They were just one goal down mid-way through the first half, only for a bad five minute spell which let Poland in. However, after the break GB were strong again and only lost the final 30 minutes by one goal, 13-12.

“Sunday’s performance was much better than in Loughborough,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris. “Unfortunately we had a bad spell in the last six minutes of the first half even though we were a player up.

“But the second half was very good and very positive. We played very well in attack, and Mayes was fantastic in goal with a 40 per cent save ratio, so she should be very pleased with her performance, and the whole defence too.

“Poland came out at full speed, they desperately wanted to get a result because goal difference could be crucial if they want to qualify for the finals.

“Their first half performance was the best I’ve seen them play, and we coped well with it generally.”

Lyn Byl top-scored for GB in Poland with four goals, while captain Lynn McCafferty and Kathryn Fudge both scored three.

Great Britain will now return to London for more training sessions, where they will take on club teams from overseas before preparing to entertain Montenegro at Crystal Palace on May 30, and then go to Russia for their final Euro 2012 match on June 3.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Strong performance from GB Women not enough for victory

A STRONG first half performance from Great Britain women’s handball team was not enough for them to overcome an experienced Poland team at Loughborough University on Thursday.

Great Britain lost the 2012 European Championship qualifying match 20-33 after losing ground on their rivals, who only led 8-10 at the break and received a tongue-lashing from their coaching team as a result.

Kathryn Fudge (pictured) popped up with four goals – many at crucial times for GB which kept them in the hunt – while Zoe Van Der Weel also scored four from the wing.

“Our defence was very strong, especially in the first half,” said Head Coach Jesper Holmris. “But we have to go back and look at our attack.

“We don’t need to change our defence – we’ve seen that against many top nations. But when we had two minute suspensions and we’re 6 v 5 on court we struggle to cope.

“We’re disappointed with the second half. We can’t play our best for 60 minutes and when we have a bad spell they scored so many because we make technical mistakes. But they were more stressed than us, and we will go into Sunday’s second match in Poland with nothing to lose.”

Great Britain will now return to London to prepare for Sunday’s clash in Elblag.


Great Britain: Zoe Van Der Weel 4, Kathryn Fudge 4, Marie Gerbron 3, Holly Lam-Moores 2, Nina Heglund 2, Lyn Byl 2, Ewa Palies 2, Jeanett Andersen 1, Amondine Webb, Lynn McCafferty, Britt Goodwin, Kelsi Fairbrother, Yvonne Leuthold, Laura Innes, Charlotte LeBlanc, Jane Mayes.

Poland: Kinga Polenz 7, Iwona Niedzwiedz 4, Karolina Siodmiak 4, Agnieszka Kocela 4, Malgorzata Stasiak 4, Karolina Kudlacz 3, Katarzyna Koniuszaniec 3, Patrycja Kulwinska 3, Alina Wojtas 1, Agnieszka Wolska, Karolina Zalewska, Hanna Sadej, Karolina Szwed, Karolina Jasinowska, Anna Baranowska, Izabela Czarna.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Holmris Relishing Polish Challenge

GREAT Britain women’s handball team take on Poland in Loughborough on Thursday, and Head Coach Jesper Holmris is relishing the challenge their latest European Championship clashes present.

The team has been training hard over the winter, and their successful Olympic Test Event campaign back in November seems a distance memory.

Holmris and his squad preparing for the double-header against Poland next week with behind-closed-doors friendly matches against world class teams such as Norway and Brazil, and will be going all out to beat Poland and gain even more experience ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games.

“Since the fantastic test event in the Olympic Arena we have been training really hard, but we have not played many matches during the winter months,” he said.

“Two narrow defeats against Angola in January have been the only internationals so we are really looking forward to international competition again.”

Injuries have hit Sarah Hargreaves, Louise Jukes, Holly Lam Moores and Britt Goodwin, but with most players back in full training they’re likely to be 100 per cent fit for the upcoming Poland matches, with the home leg at Loughborough University on Thursday and the return leg in Elblag on Sunday.

“The two qualification matches against Poland will be very tough competition for us,” added Holmris. “Poland is a very strong and experienced team with some top European back court players (Niedwiedz, Kudladz and Byzdra) leading the way.

“They have a very solid and well organised defence and the Polish fast break phase has become a threat for all teams. Head coach Kim Rasmussen will also have more options and a more powerful attack with their star player Karolina Kudladz back from injury than last time we played them.

“We are the underdogs once again, but we will do everything we can to upset a very strong Polish team. We are in good form and expect a very strong performance in front of a sold out home crowd in Loughborough.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Successful partner event for British Handball

British Handball held its third and most successful Partner Networking Event yet at the offices of Pinsent Masons in London.

Over 60 guests attended to hear British Handball's exciting future plans, receive a presentation from LOCOG handball competition manager Alex Gavrilovic and to share partner experiences.

More than a dozen members of the Great Britain team were in attendance to meet with the partners.

Pinsent Masons are one of the latest companies to sign up as a British Handball sponsor, and their Head of Sport Trevor Watkins used the opportunity to announce that Pinsent Masons will be the title sponsor of the upcoming four nations International to be held in London 5-7 April. The tournament will be known as the Pinsent Masons' London Handball Cup.

British Handball CEO Paul Goodwin said that the evening was a great success and that he had received several enquiries from companies wanting to get involved with British Handball as a result of attending the event.

British Handball sign up with OptimaSport

BRITISH Handball has given their Olympic preparations a major boost by signing up to use leading sports assessment and tracking system OptimaSport.

OptimaSport’s technology is the most advanced of its kind, monitoring multiple biological systems and providing the most detailed reports and data.

British Handball Strength and Conditioning Coach, Lee Ottey, said: “When I first viewed the kit I was impressed by what it could offer our athletes to help raise their performance. I also liked the fact that the system was non-invasive and produced some great graphics with a wide range of features.”

The equipment will be integrated into the team’s centralised programme at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. It will help monitor athletes’ response to training sessions, enabling the coaching staff to track the athletes’ tolerance and stress levels – which in turn will help quantify session specific training loads and to track how an athlete has recovered.

It will also help to detect under- or overtraining, while fitness testing will enable coaches to gauge individual and team improvements.

CEO of OptimaSport, John McLaughlin, said: “We are delighted to be working with the British Handball team and hope that our system helps it achieve success at the Olympics. We believe that our systems would benefit a number of other Olympic teams and are excited by the potential to further grow our presence across all sports – and hopefully help Great Britain achieve as strong a medal haul as possible.”

GB winger Pearce visits school

GREAT Britain winger John Pearce helped pupils at All Saints Catholic School in Barking get to grips with the finer points of handball last week when he attended a session at the Essex school.

Pearce, 24 and from Dorset, helped Year 7 and 10 pupils with training, and even managed a team in a schools competition – which they duly won!

He then visited Newham Flames Handball Club in London, and again helped out with training and showed them some of the drills and moves that international handball stars go through.

Pupils from All Saints started playing handball last year, and have set up a club which meets on Friday afternoons. Since then they have competed in the London Junior League with their Under-16s team as well as the Inter-Borough Girls competition and national competitions.

London Handball Development Officer Ari Bekker said: “John was amazing! He decided to coach them and in seconds he had them doing some new exercises and playing handball – he looked like he had always been doing it!

“The kids loved him! John blew everyone away with his positive, professional and very confident personality towards the kids. They looked up to him and I am sure this will be an experience they will remember when they play in future competitions. They are all hoping to meet him again in April when John will be back on court with GB men.”

After training, John gave out medals to the top three teams and then signed some photos of the GB Men for the youngsters, as well as some of his GB playing kit.

All Saints PE teacher Dermot O'Brien said: “Handball is a new sport we are promoting at All Saints school. We have had a very positive reaction and we have a large amount of pupils attending. The kids were extremely excited when they met an international handball star!”

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Pinsent Masons unveiled as Cup title sponsors

INTERNATIONAL law firm Pinsent Masons has been unveiled as the title sponsor of the London Handball Cup, to be staged in the capital from April 5-7.

Great Britain Men’s handball team will take on Tunisia, South Korea and Argentina in the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The event forms a crucial part of the GB side’s preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games, and has been made possible thanks to considerable backing from UK Sport.

British Handball recently welcomed Pinsent Masons on board as one of a raft of new sponsors which included Collins Stewart Wealth Management, bolstering support for handball from the City’s financial quarter.

One of the fastest growing sports in the country, handball is set to become one of the hits of this summer’s Olympics with participation levels in schools, universities and community groups exploding across Britain.

Trevor Watkins, head of sport at Pinsent Masons, comments: "The inaugural Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup is a great platform for us as a multinational law firm. It will enable our staff and clients to engage in our partnership with GB Handball through a prestigious international event. Bringing together leading teams in a pre-Olympics tournament is a great opportunity for us to extend our support for the sport and invest in its future."

UK Sport’s Head of Major Events, Esther Nicholls, said: “UK Sport is pleased to be supporting the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup, which will be a fantastic showcase for handball in the UK, and will provide valuable experience for both the athletes and their support staff ahead of our home Games in under six months time.

“In the lead up to London 2012, 41 of the 46 Olympic and Paralympic sports have secured backing from UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme to stage a major event, and handball will be the 41st of these, supporting our aspiration to ensure all sports are best prepared for the home staging of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

British Handball Chief Executive Paul Goodwin said: “We’re delighted to have Pinsent Masons on board, not just as title sponsor for the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup, but also going forward to the future as we continue to promote the sport.

“The Olympics have given us a rare opportunity to introduce Britain to handball, a sport which is massively popular across the world because it is fun, fast and physical and can be played by people of all ages.

“We look forward to working with UK Sport’s events team, Pinsent Masons and all our sponsors as the British teams prepare for the London Olympics. But also we look to the future and hope that some of the youngsters now playing handball for the first time might also achieve their own Olympic Dreams in Rio 2016 and 2020.”

Having British teams competing in the Olympic handball competition for the first time has given the sport a huge boost at grassroots level across the country, with England Handball and Scottish Handball working tirelessly to introduce the sport to as many people as possible.

England Handball reports a major rise in the number of people being introduced to the sport in schools – last year, 58,000 children were introduced to the sport by England Handball, compared to 10,500 three years ago.

They were given a target of getting 3,000 youngsters regularly playing handball by 2013 – as of last year they had smashed that target and report that more than 9,000 have discovered just how much fun the sport is and play it regularly.

British Handball commits to equality

HANDBALL is a wonderful sport for everyone to play – no matter who you are, where you come from or what your level of ability is!

And British Handball believes that so much, that it is working towards being awarded the Equality Standard mark by UK Sport.

Heidi Bech has been appointed lead officer on equality for British Handball, and is working to put together an updated policy to help us make sure all athletes, staff and volunteers all share the same aims.

“British Handball subscribes to the principles of equality of opportunity and strives to ensure that anyone participating or wishing to participate in handball are able to do so in a discrimination-free environment,” said Mrs Bech.

“British Handball also advocates that all those involved in the sport must always comply with the principles of accepted moral and ethical behaviour and exemplary standards of conduct and make sure that everyone is treated fairly.

“British Handball recognises the value of diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity within the organisation. We therefore aim to create the conditions where players, staff and volunteers are treated with dignity and respect and are treated solely on the basis of their abilities and potential regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, race, ethnic or national origins or socio/economic background or other irrelevant distinctions.

“British Handball wishes to work to become an organisation where discrimination, harassment and victimisation do not exist.”

She is conducting an audit among players, staff and key volunteers in order to find groups that are underrepresented within the BHA. The audit will be on age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic etc.

The audit will then be analysed and British Handball will put together an action plan on how to get the under-represented group more involved in handball.

The Equality Policy will be on the British Handball web site as well as our Twitter and Facebook sites.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

British Referees Land Olympic Role

FORMER GB international handball players Allan Stokes and Brian Bartlett have been appointed as referees at the London Olympic Games later this year.

The duo, who have made a successful switch to refereeing and have already officiated at several top European matches, will work together as one pair of several referees needed for the 24-team handball competition at the 2012 games.

“I am overjoyed that we have received the nomination to be part of the Olympic games in London,” said Stokes. “It shows that with hard work and a willingness to learn and improve people can achieve anything that they wish to, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity we have been given.

“Going forward I am looking forward to being part of the world’s biggest sporting competition, and getting to referee top level matches, and being part of the atmosphere within the handball arena and Olympic Park itself.

“To get selected we have had to try and referee as many games as possible as well as attend courses to receive both our EHF and IHF referee badges. Over the last two years we have travelled from country to country refereeing as well as getting as many domestic matches as possible in Scotland and England as possible.”

Among the events the pair have refereed at are EHF Cup and European Cup matches, World Championship qualifiers, the Youth World Championships in Argentina, the European University Championships as well as Danish First and Second Division matches.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Schools snap up tickets for GB v Poland

SCHOOLS from across the country are snapping up tickets to see Great Britain Women take on Poland in their latest European Handball Championship qualification clash on March 22 (2pm start).

The match, to be staged at Loughborough University, has attracted schools from all around who want to get a glimpse of the GB team who are training hard and preparing for this summer’s London Olympics.

And you could be there too!

There are still some tickets left for the match, which both sides will be keen to win to keep alive their hopes of reaching the finals of the Euro 2012 tournament in the Netherlands in December.

Tickets for schools are free and there are concessions available, but even the full-price adult tickets are a snip. Student tickets are £2.50, concessions are £3.50 and adult tickets are just £5.00.

To find out more, go to www.britishhandball.com

Part of the qualifying group for the 2012 European Championships, the Great Britain v Poland match will pit the ever-improving women’s squad aim to give themselves a head start before they travel to Poland for the return leg just a few days later on March 25.

Great Britain women have notched up several notable victories over the last few years, and appear to be hitting form at just the right time for this Summer’s Olympics in London.

With the Great Britain Women’s team based at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, their clash against Poland in Loughborough is a rare chance for handball fans outside the capital to get to see our aspiring Olympians ahead of competing at the Greatest Show on Earth!

“These matches against Poland are crucial for us, as they form an important part of our preparations for the Olympic Games in London this summer,” said Lorraine Brown, Performance Director at British Handball.

“We have had close games against them in the past, and know they are a tough team against whom will have to play at our best to gain our first win against them.”

“The team has made fantastic progress over the last few years and already have a number of international victories to their name. Hopefully we will shortly be adding Poland to that list!”

A series of friendly fixtures against top Norwegian opponents has helped Great Britain sharpen their skills ahead of the match, which is the third group match for both sides.

Poland and Great Britain have both lost their first two matches against former World Champions Russia and Montenegro, so both will be keen to bounce back with two victories to keep their hopes of reaching the finals of the European Championships alive.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Major new sponsors back British Handball

Wealth Manager, Collins Stewart Wealth Management, and international law firm Pinsent Masons, have joined forces to announce a major new sponsorship deal with the British Handball Association which will run throughout 2012.

Collins Stewart Wealth Management and Pinsent Masons have become Official Partners to British Handball, and both the Great Britain (GB) men’s and women’s handball teams will carry the Collins Stewart Wealth Management and Pinsent Masons logos on their shirts in all competitions and training matches in the build-up to the Olympics.

In addition to the sponsorship, Collins Stewart Wealth Management has also launched an initiative, which will see the company donating £10.00 for every goal scored, by both the men’s and women’s teams in the run up to the Olympics in August, to a Fund designed to assist the players who are making big sacrifices, to compete on the global stage.

Since London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games in 2005, British Handball has been focussed on building two teams to mount a competitive challenge to the handball competition which will be played at the specially created handball arena at the Olympic Park.

Neil Darke, Head of Collins Stewart Wealth Management commented: “Handball is an exciting and dynamic sport to watch, and has great potential to grow in popularity throughout this Olympic year. We look forward to working alongside Pinsent Masons and the talented team at British Handball, to support the athletes who work so hard to help raise the sport’s profile in the UK, particularly during this exciting year.”

“We were attracted to British Handball as an organisation as, despite the sport being relatively unknown, their approach to building the game’s familiarity chimed with us. We were also very pleased as an anchor partner, to help bring Pinsent Masons to the partnership. Like Collins Stewart Wealth Management, Pinsent Masons’ business is built around its clients, which has given us a shared vision when looking to get involved with a sports organisation.”

Trevor Watkins, Head of Sport and a Partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “The sports sector is a key part of our firm's business. We are delighted to take this opportunity to invest back into sport and make a real difference in doing so. It gives our staff across all of our offices a tremendous opportunity to be part of the GB Handball journey as the teams prepare for what will be one of the greatest sporting events in this country in our lifetime and to play their part by volunteering, supporting and helping to create a strong foundation for the sport beyond 2012."

Paul Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer at British Handball, commented: “We are thrilled that the sport has attracted two high profile, award-winning companies as major partners; it demonstrates that British Handball is in a strong position in the build-up to the Olympics and we look forward to working closely with Collins Stewart Wealth Management and Pinsent Masons throughout the year to further develop the popularity of the sport into the future.”

The sponsorship will give a major boost to Handball’s plans to make the sport more popular in Britain. Handball is already one of the fastest growing sports in the country following its inclusion in the Change 4 Life programme through England Handball who have introduced the sport to more than 400 schools across the country. As a result of this, handball has seen a six-fold increase in the number of young people being introduced to the sport.

England Handball is the governing body for Handball in England www.englandhandball.com

GB Women v Poland - Tickets now Available!

WITH the Olympics just around the corner, handball fans have just a few more chances to see the British Handball team in action – starting with GB Women taking on Poland at Loughborough University on March 22.

Part of the qualifying group for the 2012 European Championships, the Great Britain v Poland match will pit the ever-improving women’s squad aim to give themselves a head start before they travel to Poland for the return leg just a few days later on March 25.

Great Britain women have notched up several notable victories over the last few years, and appear to be hitting form at just the right time for this Summer’s Olympics in London.

With the Great Britain Women’s team based at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, their clash against Poland in Loughborough is a rare chance for handball fans outside the capital to get to see our aspiring Olympians ahead of competing at the Greatest Show on Earth!

A series of friendly fixtures against top Norwegian opponents has helped Great Britain sharpen their skills ahead of the match, which is the third group match for both sides.

Poland and Great Britain have both lost their first two matches against former World Champions Russia and Montenegro, so both will be keen to bounce back with two victories to keep their hopes of reaching the finals of the European Championships alive.

The match at Loughborough University takes place on Thursday, March 22 and starts at 2pm.

Tickets are free to schoolchildren, and with it being an afternoon match it’s ideal for schools to bring their pupils to see international handball action.

Adult tickets are priced at £5, while concessions are £3.50 and students are £2.50. For more details or to buy tickets go to www.britishhandball.com

Norwegian Battles for GB Women

GREAT Britain women continued their preparations for this Summer’s Olympics with a series of friendly fixtures against top Norwegian domestic opponents.

They took on Liga team Fredrikstad and First Division side Halden twice each between Thursday and Monday, giving them vital experience of different styles and levels of handball.

Thursday saw the team take on Fredrikstad at the Olympic Handball Arena.

GB started out a little shaky in defence and ended up down at half time. But they fought hard in the second half and pulled level at one point, just losing out at full time 31-29. Lyn Byl and Kathryn Fudge were GB’s top players.

On Friday they met Halden at Crystal Palace and won comfortably. GB took some time adjusting to Halden's offensive defence at the start but once they had GB looked very strong. Final score 32-23.

However, on Saturday the team lost out to Fredrikstad 35-21. A poor first half finished 23-8 as GB lost out in defence too many times and didn't look their usual selves. However a much better second half which they won 13-12 showed a fantastic comeback with some fighting spirit!

The last two matches were against Halden again, and GB won one and lost one. The win again, a comfortable one finishing 45-34 after 90 minutes of handball.

There were good performances from the keepers and from the players coming off the bench as Lyn Byl, Yvonne Leuthold and Lynn McCafferty were all rested in the last third of the match. Winning the last third, the rest of the team on court really proved themselves.

The final game against Halden saw a tired GB lost out 28-19 to a team they had beaten comfortably twice before.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

GB Women Take on Top Norwegian Teams

GREAT Britain women will take on two top Norwegian sides in friendly matches this week as their preparations for the Olympics continue.

They will take on Liga team Fredrikstad today (Thursday) and then First Division team Halden on Friday afternoon.

Saturday sees them play Fredrikstad again, while they will take on Halden again on Sunday and Monday.

Although the GB team are missing one or two key players through injury or unavailability, it will give the other squad players a great chance to shine and show the coaching staff what they are capable of.

GB Women v Poland - Venues Announced

THE venues for Great Britain women’s Euro 2012 matches against Poland has been fixed this week.

The home leg of the qualifying group clash will be held at Loughborough University on Thursday, March 22 (2pm start), while the away match is on Sunday, March 25 in Elblag, Poland – which is just a short drive from Gdansk in the north of the country.

Friday, January 13, 2012

GB Men Battle to First Winter Victory

GREAT Britain Men secured the first victory of their Winter Tour when they beat Serbia U21s 26-29 on Thursday in Belgrade.

A strong handball nation, Serbia U21s finished fifth at the last World U21 Championships, and were expected to provide Great Britain with a stiff test.

But GB put on perhaps the best performance of their Winter Tour, bouncing back from defeats against Austria in the World Championships.

Assistant coach Bill Baillie said afterwards: “We’re well pleased with that performance. We tried out some new defensive formations and we are delighted with the win against such a strong Under-21 side.”

GB battled for the full 60 minutes, leading 11-14 at half time and holding that advantage to win 26-29.

Steven Larsson was top-scorer with 11 goals, while Robin Garnham added six and Sebastian Prieto (pictured) five.

Great Britain’s defence was very strong, and goalkeeper Jesper Parker finished with an impressive save ratio of 41 per cent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

British Handball Against Arena Re-naming

BRITISH Handball is against moves for the Olympic Handball Arena to be renamed The Copper Box so that the iconic venue retains the name of the sport both during and after the Olympics.

The Arena – which is a permanent structure and will play an important part in ensuring the 2012 games leaves a strong legacy – has been renamed the Copper Box to reflect the materials used on the outside of the 7,000-seater Arena.

But with handball being one of the fastest growing sport in the country at the moment, British Handball wants the name to remain as The Handball Arena.

Paul Goodwin, chief executive of British Handball, said: “Retaining the name of the sport in the title of the venue is important to us. The Olympics has given handball a great opportunity to grow in popularity, and all the indications are that we are achieving that.

“Handball has seen a six-fold increase in participation across England alone, with almost 60,000 children and young people being introduced to the sport last year.

“I think we deserve to have all our good work in developing the sport recognised by the authorities by not giving the venue a generic title which does nothing to reflect its usage.

“Why have they not renamed other facilities in a similar vein?

“Perhaps the Olympic Velodrome will be called ‘the big round wooden building’ or the basketball arena renamed as ‘the marshmallow’?”

Handball is the most popular team sport for women in Europe, and the second most popular for men.

And in Britain, it is growing in popularity in all corners of the game.

England Handball was set a target by Sport England of getting 3,000 youngsters regularly taking part in handball by 2013. But latest figures show there are already 9,000, 18 months ahead of the deadline.

This year’s British Universities Handball Championship saw unprecedented numbers of participants, while the English National League and Development League continues to go from strength to strength with new teams joining each year.

But the biggest increase in participation has come in schools, thanks largely to England Handball’s programme which has seen dramatic expansion across the country with Development Officers doing great work.

England Handball succeeded in getting handball named as one of just seven sports which are being offered to schools as part of the Government’s Change 4 Life programme which provides equipment and training in one sport to every school – and 420 schools chose handball.

More Angola Clashes for GB Women

GREAT Britain women have returned from a training camp in France where they took on Olympic Test Event adversaries Angola twice in two days.

The African champions were beaten 22-20 by Great Britain in the opening match of the London Handball Cup at the Olympic Handball Arena in November.

They went on to finish a superb eighth in the World Championships in Brazil last month after winning four matches and reaching the quarter finals with victories against teams such as Iceland, Germany, China and South Korea.

The GB team travelled to France to meet them again twice in two days, and faced a sharper and more experienced Angola team following their World Championship exploits.

In the opening match, they lost out by just four goals, 22-26, with Britt Goodwin top-scoring with seven goals while Louise Jukes, Lyn Byl and Zoe Van Der Weel scoring three each.

And in the rematch the following day, GB performed superbly again, this time only losing by three, 24-27, with Kathryn Fudge scoring six, Marie Gerbron five and Jukes four.

Serbia Camp for Great Britain Men

GB Men continue their Winter tour with a trip to Serbia this week, where they will play the Serbian Under-21 national team twice as well as a third match against a top domestic side.

The visit to Serbia makes it five countries visited by the squad in the last few weeks following a four-team tournament in Latvia, training in Hungary and World Championship matches in Austria and London.

They have taken on a wide variety of countries and gathered experience of dealing with several different styles of handball, and while their results have not been favourable the team has gained invaluable experience which will stand them in good stead ahead of the 2012 Olympics in August.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Battling GB Men defeated by Austria

GREAT Britain Men brought the curtain down on their 2013 World Championship campaign with another battling performance against a strong Austria side, but were unable to avoid another defeat, losing 24-40.

The match at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London attracted a healthy crowd of several hundred, and they played a big part in cheering the GB team on to an impressive first half performance.

Austria were just 13-17 ahead at the break after GB’s defence showed they had addressed several of the issues that were identified during the midweek 37-22 defeat.

Martin Hare (pictured) scored six goals for GB, while Wirral’s Chris McDermott battled back from a back injury with five goals.

But ultimately Austria – ranked 14 in the world – proved too strong with Robert Weber scoring 12 goals to help them to victory.

After the break, GB shuffled their team to give all their players experience of playing against a top nation, and it was at that point that the visitors ran away with the scoreline.

Great Britain men will next be in action in Britain in April, when they are due to play in a four-team tournament.

More details to follow as they are available.

Friday, January 06, 2012

GB Men Lose, but Earn Rival's Praise

A STRONG second half performance and six goals from Steven Larsson was not enough for Great Britain Men, who lost out 37-22 to Austria in the first leg of their 2013 World Championship qualifying matches on Thursday.

The hosts in Tulln proved too strong for Great Britain in the first half and quickly opened up a big lead, and although GB battled back with good periods of play which showed glimpses of their promise, they could not challenge Austria’s lead.

Battling GB’s performance earned the praise of Austria captain Viktor Szilagyi, who said afterwards: “Great Britain is physically strong, and we had to have respect for them.”

Great Britain will now travel to London to prepare for Sunday’s return leg at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (2pm start).

A few tickets are left for the clash, which will give British handball fans a rare chance to see the GB team in action ahead of the 2012 Olympics later this year.

Austria – who reached the finals of the 2011 World Championships in Sweden last year - will bring another full-strength team to London in a bid to progress to the play-offs and ultimately the finals in Spain in 2013.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

GB Men Face Stiff Test Against Austria

GREAT Britain Men take on Austria twice this week in the qualifying stages of the 2013 World Championships, and it promises to be one of their toughest challenges yet.

They play in Tulln on Thursday night, and then come to London to play them again on Sunday afternoon (2pm) at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

Nothing less than two victories will do if GB are to progress to the play-off stage of the competition, while Austria will be looking to get their campaign off to a strong start with a double win.

Austria have named a squad which is littered with quality and experience.

With an average age of 27, their 18-man squad has an average of 60 international caps, while GB’s squad average 23 years and 17 caps.

Austria just missed out on a spot in the finals of the 2012 European Championship by one point. They beat Iceland 28-23 and drew with Germany 26-26, topping the group for most of the qualifying period before losing the return legs and missing out.

Their squad for the two matches against Great Britain includes their top scorer in those six Euro 2012 group stages Robert Weber, who scored 26 goals including eight against Germany.

Weber has scored 319 goals in 90 international appearances, but three of his team-mates have netted even more.

Viktor Szilagyi – their 33-year-old centre back who plays domestic handball in the Bundesliga for Flensburg – has scored 720 goals in 157 international matches.

Patrick Folser has scored 540 times in 203 appearances for Austria, while 29-year-old Roland Schlinger has bagged 473 goals in 125 appearances.

While Great Britain’s most experienced players have far fewer international appearances, they are still capable of scoring goals.

Yorkshire-born Steven Larsson has scored 160 goals in 24 games, while Scotland's Chris Mohr has found the net 107 times.

And more recently, Gawain Vincent hit form against Estonia last week and scored six times, while Alex Girvan scored seven against Lithuania the previous day.

Tickets are available on the door for Sunday’s match, which starts at 2pm.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Satchwell Excels for GB Men

GREAT Britain men rounded off their Latvia camp with a narrow defeat to the hosts, losing out 25-23 after a superb second half display.

Goalkeeper Nick Satchwell (pictured) underpinned a strong defensive display from the GB team and finished with an impressive 52 per cent save ratio.

Latvia had been 17-9 ahead at the break, but GB stemmed the flow of goals well and won the second half 8-14.

Sussex-based Seb Prieto and Dorset’s John Pearce both scored five goals in the match to finish as joint top scorers for GB.

The performance against Latvia was much-improved from the previous day where GB went down 35-19 to a strong Estonia team, despite Gawain Vincent scoring six goals for GB.

Great Britain had competed well with their rivals in the first half and only trailed 15-12, but Estonia’s counter-attacks proved the difference and they pulled away to victory.

GB will now head to Hungary to prepare for their 2013 World Championship qualifying matches against Austria in Tulln on January 5, and then back at Crystal Palace three days later for the return leg (January 8, 2pm).