THE growth of handball in the London region was demonstrated at the recent under-16 Inter-Borough Competition - and it was Newham Flames who dominated the event.
The event, organised with support from Newham Borough in partnership with Leyton Orient Community Sports Partnership (LOCSP) as well as England Handball, saw several good games of handball played which showed the rapid growth of the sport in the capital.
Held at Newham Leisure Centre, the event was also supported by Olympic gold medallist Tessa Sanderson, who is a big fan of handball.
Newham put home advantage to devastating use their first team winning the event and their second team finishing as runners-up.
Waltham Forest finished were third, while other teams who took part included Hackney, Barking and Dagenham.
Ari Bekker London Handball Development Officer, said: “It was great to see so many players from the same age group in friendly but competitive games.
“Handball has shown great development in London and I hope we can continue this with help from the Newham Activity Team. The organisation was fantastic - a special thank you for Abul Hussain who managed to put everything together.”
And Thomas Laquan, 17, who has played for Newham since 2007, added: “I started to play handball at school. A coach came to our school and showed us and told us about handball. I haven’t heard about it before.”
Most of the players with Newham Flames were picked during a talent indication programme set up by Newham Council and LOCSP. Newham players have competed in international tournaments across Europe, and have travelled to Gothenburg, Manchester and Berlin to compete against Europe’s best youth handball teams.
Olympic Gold medallist Tessa Sanderson, who is helping the Newham Sports Academy to provide everybody with elite coaching, mentors, training and sport equipment, said afterwards: “Handball is about speed, agility, and communication. You don’t really need contact. It’s a sport that everyone can enjoy and good for everybody.
“I can see definitely there’s a future for handball in the UK. The more you promoted the more people get involved in it and the better it gets.”
And Chairman of England Handball, Mike Briers said: “We can see there is a lot of natural talent here which just needs coaching. It’s always fantastic to see young people playing sport together. And they progressed a lot during the late years.”
Local Sports Legacy Advisor, Alan Skewis added: “It’s good to see these children playing again and again and see how they developed over the last 3-4 years. Even those who have only come once are already skilled.
Skewis outlined plans for a handball league: “We have to make sure before the Olympic Games that the Olympic facilities will be used. The idea that all people from these boroughs can come together in the Handball Arena strengthens our plan to establish a strong Handball League later.”