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Thursday, May 5, 2011

England U19s Get Taste of International Handball

THE growth of handball in England took a major step forward last week when the newly-formed England Under-19 men’s team held a training camp at the Aarhus Sports Academy in Denmark.

Under the guidance of Head Coach and GB international Scott Harrington, the young team played three matches against a variety of teams from the Academy, which is where the majority of the GB players were based from 2007-2009.

And despite being at least three years younger than their opponents, the England team played well and drew compliments from players and coaches at the tournament who were surprised by the good standard of handball.

“We came into this camp with a clear objective: to turn enthusiastic teenagers into handball players - and for me it’s objective achieved,” said Harrington. “The lads have shown to both me and everyone involved that they have massive potential.

“As well as the two-day tournament, the team trained in different aspects of handball, including strength and conditioning, agility, core stability and injury prehab so our players could experience what it takes to become a world class handball player.”

The team also received one-to-one guidance from several of the GB players who are based out in Denmark, and Harrington added: “All the sessions proved invaluable for our boys - it’s now up to them to go away and build on what they have learnt over the past week, so we can continue to improve as individuals and as a team.”

And GB international John Pearce, who worked with the England Under-19 players during their stay, added: “This has been my first chance to see the work being put in to secure the legacy for handball in the UK that we all want.

“I have to admit I was surprised by the level of a number of the guys who came out here. They really looked like youth handball players and considering the number of obstacles in the way for handball in the UK that is quite an achievement.

“I wanted to get involved because I really believe there is potential for handball to grow in the UK. With 65 million people there is room for other sports, not just football, rugby and cricket.

“There is still a long way to go, we need to catch players earlier. We need to get kids playing the sport at the age of five or six, with appropriate coaching and facilities for the legacy to really develop after 2012. The first steps have been taken and I look forward to seeing how the journey develops.”

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