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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Handball Proves More Popular Than Ever!

SPORTS participation figures in England were branded ‘disappointing’ by top officials last week – but handball is bucking the trend with participation increasing dramatically.

A Sport England survey highlighted that, while some sports have seen an increase in participation, many have seen a drop including swimming and tennis.

But figures from England Handball have shown a dramatic increase in the number of people playing handball, especially in key areas like schools and universities.

Three years ago around 10,500 children and young people were introduced to handball across England. Last year, that had grown to a massive 58,000 – almost a six-fold increase in three years.

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.

Across Europe, handball is the most popular female team sport and second most popular for men with only football attracting more participants.

High-flying Salford Continue Good Form

HIGH-flying Salford secured an emphatic eighth consecutive league victory on Sunday, beating Nottingham University 35-16 at Birchwood Leisure Centre, Warrington, in the English National Men’s League.

Having had a three-week break since their last game Salford were clearly eager to get playing again. Nottingham unfortunately drew the short straw and it was clear what the outcome of what this game would be after just 10 minutes when Salford led by 8 goals to 2.

Indeed, there was just no let up for Nottingham throughout the half. Even with rotation of the Salford squad, the University side found it almost impossible to penetrate the Salford defence and were forced to take many low percentage shots.

Even when they did manage to break through the defence, an on form Rob Avery in the Salford goal pulled off great saves to ensure Nottingham reaped little reward.

At half time once again the game was over as a contest with Salford leading 18-6. A similar story followed in the second half. Whilst Nottingham got off to a bit of a better start Salford were never really troubled. The final score being 35 to 16 for Salford.

Notable performances on the day for Salford have to include Rob Avery in goal with a whopping 64 per cent save rate. Plaudits also must go to Ciaran Williams who top scored with 7 and also set up 9 other goals.

Matt Lee must also be recognised for his magnificent defensive performance in making 10 of Salford's 17 blocks of Nottingham's shots. Indeed the fact that 17 of Nottingham's shots were blocked and a further 11 were forced wide or over the target is recognition of the quality of Salford's defence.

Elsewhere, Manchester edged to a narrow 25-24 victory over Deva, the Chester side having battled back from a 15-9 deficit at half time with the help of Steve Jameson who top-scored with nine goals.

And Liverpool Wolves won 30-22 over Manchester University with Christian Wiltering scoring eight of their goals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tryst Battle to Narrow Win

TRYST secured a narrow 30-29 victory over rivals Edinburgh, ensuring they stay second in the league after a thrilling clash in the Scottish League last weekend.

They were 16-14 ahead at half time, although the score changed hands many times during the first 30 minutes. Both teams managed to score from fast breaks and set plays and it was only at the last minutes of the first half that Tryst took advantage of an Edinburgh two-minute suspension to go ahead by two goals.

At the beginning of the second half Tryst tried to finish off the game after getting a four-goal lead. Edinburgh was determined to stay in the game and their hard working defence paid off when they equalised with few minutes to go.

It remained goal for goal for a tense period of a few minutes, with both sides well-matched and having the measure of the other.

The last minute of the game wasn’t for the faint hearted; both teams could have won the game but in the end Tryst finished on top – final score 30-29.

Johnnie McAleer scored nine and Mark McLaughlan five goals for Tryst, and Vincent Martinez added eight and Pavelas Venediktouas six for Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Glasgow beat East Kilbride 45-26.

After last week’s performance against Tryst, EK was hoping to challenge another league contestant, Glasgow.

But Glasgow took the lead from the first minutes of the game and never looked back. Both teams attacked consistently and scored plenty of goals in a high scoring game, finishing the first half 21-16 for Glasgow.

In the second half Glasgow managed to continue in the same tempo and scored a lot of goals from fast breaks, while they improved their defensive performance closing the gaps for EK key players.

Unfortunately EK run out of steam towards the end of the game and although they tried to keep the score as low as possible they couldn’t stop Glasgow scoring less than 45 goals.

Charles Razimbaud scored 12 and Danos Sagias eight for Glasgow, and Laszo Csomo 10 and Andy Wallace 7 goals for EK82.

Edinburgh will take on Dundee on Saturday 10th Dec at Blackburn, while Glasgow play Tryst at Cumbernauld on the 17th Dec which will determine which team will go into the Christmas break unbeaten.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

European Dream Ends for London GD

Following a historic win in round 2 of the European Challenge Cup, London GD’s men’s team went to Athens last weekend for their two round 3 matches against Greek side AC Doukas.

Games are normally played in home and away legs, but due to a lack of suitable halls in London as well as financial constraints, London GD opted to play both games in the Greek capital.

The team became the first UK handball team to ever make it through this far in a European Cup Competition when they won their round 2 group earlier this autumn, and were prepared for two hard games in Athens. In the end, AC Doukas proved too strong, the first game on Saturday ended with a 30-20 defeat, followed by a 36-15 defeat on Sunday.

“It was always going to be two very tough games,” said London GD chairman and player Remi Bugariu. “We are an amateur club with two trainings a week, and we were up against professional, paid players who train nearly every day.”

The chairman is very happy and proud of his team though. “We came here to do our best, and I think we did a good job,” he says. “We showed great team spirit throughout, we never gave up and fought until the end. Going to half time only three goals down in the first game was quite an achievement and testament to the team’s hard work and fighting spirit.”

With the European dream over for this year, the team will now be concentrating 100% on the domestic league and the British Cup in the spring. The club has set themselves a target of winning both league and cup titles for both men and women’s 1st division teams this season, and are aiming for European Cup participation again next season.