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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.”

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