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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).