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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top British teams preparing for European action

TWO of the strongest domestic teams in Britain, London GD and Ruislip Eagles men are preparing to take on some tough opponents in European competitions.

Each season the top teams from each country qualify for one of three levels of European competition, and London GD will play in the EHF Cup, while Ruislip Eagles will see action in the EHF Challenge Cup.

Third in last season’s National League, London GD are first in action playing Danish side KIF Kolding away on both September 15 and 16. The winner on aggregate goes through to the second round of the competition on October 13/14 and October 20/21.

National League runners-up Ruislip Eagles face three opponents in three days in the Challenge Cup.

They travel to Chisinau in Moldova for their matches, which begin with a game against home side Olimpus 85 USEFS on October 12.

The following day they play Cypriot outfit SPE Strovolos, and then finally take on Lithuania’s Dragunas on October 14.

English National League winners Salford turned down their invitation to play in European competition for financial reasons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

London GD seek Head Coach

EHA Cup champions London GD are currently seeking to recruit a volunteer Head Coach to lead their Men's first team.

The coach will oversee training sessions and games, as well as their upcoming participation in the new EHF Cup which is going to be the first time in history for an English Club.

Please send your covering letter and CV to the following email address: menexecutive@londonGDhandball.co.uk.

They are looking to have someone appointed in prior to their European campaign in September 2012.

Friday, July 6, 2012

London GD win EHA Cup

LONDON GD were crowned EHA Cup champions after beating arch rivals Salford 28-18 in the final at Bethnal Green on Sunday.

The last time these two teams met, Salford caused upset in the London GD camp by beating them with two goals, a victory that meant they won the play offs and the national league.

To begin with, both teams looked like they were in it to win it, they were neck and neck throughout the opening minutes, and after nine minutes the score was 3-3. Soon though, London GD started pulling away, letting their experience shine through against the young Salford side.

Goals from Philip Altong, Jordi Ferrer-Torras, Krisztian Ölschleger and Remus Bugariu, coupled with saves from goalkeeper Theo Bougouin and a tough defence saw London GD pull ahead. Two quick goals from Ferrer-Torras and a fastbreak goal from Ölschleger and London GD was up 10-5.

Salford seemed to grow increasingly frustrated, missing several chances and not being able to penetrate the strong London GD defence.

London GD made some changes at the first time out, Cesc Salvado came on and quickly scored three goals putting London GD further ahead. At half time, the score was 14-8.

London GD took charge from the beginning of the second half and quickly scored three goals while Salford only managed one. Despite being down several goals, Salford had not given up, and the London GD attacks were met with tough defending. Their right wing, Ste Clarke, the game’s top scorer, got a few quick goals in behind the London GD goalkeeper early in the second half.

Hope was quickly fading for the Salford fans though, as London GD kept scoring and after a textbook attack, finished with a goal from Israel Manchi, London GD was up by 21 to 12.

Salford changed their defence play briefly, taking Altong out of the game, but this only left more room for the rest of the team to score.

Salford goals from Clarke and Jake Williams in the final minutes meant little as London GD had dominated the game since the second part of the first half. The final score was London GD 28 Salford 18.

The game’s top scorer was Ste Clarke from Salford with seven goals, while Cesc Salvado was the top scorer for the London team with six.

London GD will now start preparing to play in Europe, in the European Handball Federation’s EHF Cup starting this autumn.

* Photos by Harald Haugan

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Politician discovers handball fun!

East Midlands Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin tried her hand at the sport of Handball recently, when she visited the University of Lincoln Handball Club.

Miss McClarkin, who is the Conservative Spokesperson for Sport in the European Parliament, visited the club as part of her drive to promote sports in the East Midlands ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games later this year. She has already tried Trampolining, Rowing and Track Cycling so far this year.

Taking part in a training session with the development team from the University of Lincoln Handball Club, Miss McClarkin found out about the development of Handball with the club’s coaching staff, Rickie Bailey, Wayne Scanlan and Robin Wright, Head of Sport at the University. She then gave the sport a go herself and trained with the squad, including drills on how to pass and shoot.

Speaking afterwards, Miss McClarkin said: “I really enjoyed the chance to train with the University of Lincoln Handball Club. They have great facilities here and are recruiting record numbers of men and women to the game. The guys were very welcoming, I had a fantastic time and left with good colour in my cheeks!

“The game is a great workout and lots of fun. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, and will be cheering for the Great British team at the Olympics later this year.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National Schools Finals a big success

Around 400 of England’s most talented youngsters competed at this year’s EHA National School Finals at SportHouse in Barking on Saturday.

Following preliminary rounds staged across the country earlier in the season, the best 26 male and female teams in Under-13 and Under-15 age groups did battle at the venue, which is the Olympic Games training venue and will be used by the best players in the world in just a month’s time.

The matches were played in a superb atmosphere, created by an enthusiastic mix of volunteers, organisers, spectators and passionate athletes.

The youngest female competitors were the first to play their final on the well attended show court. Lymm High School won the tight final, which left the second and third place to Harris Girls Academy and Ark Academy. 

The game was followed by the U13 boys final between Harris Boys and Erith School. The support of Harris Girls team might have helped Harris Boys to defeat Erith School who earned silver and Wirral Grammar High School who achieved Bronze in the U13 Boys age group.

In the U15 girls winners Parrs Wood High School took on Harris Girls in the Final and left 3rd place to Barking Abbey Girls.

Exciting and close group matches were played in U15 Boys category. However, the final matches were clearly dominated by the boys from All Saints School – the 2012 National Champions. A remarkable second and third place was achieved by The Bromfords School and Harris Boy’s Academy.

During the event EHA raised £340 for British Handball’s digression fund, which is used to help talented athletes with travel and living expenses.

After the competition, Dermot O’Brien from All Saints Catholic School said: “When we first started playing competitive handball last September we never believed the boys could of achieved so much in such a short space of time.

“It is a credit to their hard work and dedication whilst dealing with many obstacles along the way. On the day, the boys came showed incredible determination, teamwork and self-belief to emerge victorious. The final took many twists and turns as we received a red card, two yellows and three one minute suspensions.

“However, great defensive play and an outstanding performance from our goalkeeper to make three incredible match winning saves including a penalty. The boys kept going and saw out a very hard tense second half against a very talented Bromfords side.

“Finally, I would like to thank England Handball and coaches from the Newham Flames for their help and advice throughout the year. The boys are looking to take handball to the next level now and promote the sport in the younger year groups to build on their success achieved.”

And Josh Connolly from Harris Boys’ Academy added: “Personally I was really impressed at the organisation of the National Competition this year, in particular the Final. It was a fantastic day that ran without a hitch which is credit to the organisers, staff involved and the high quality officials.

“Harris Boys Academy East Dulwich is very proud of both teams that competed. The U13 team were deserving National Champions on the day and they have improved massively this season. The U15 team finished third overall which was probably fair as they lost convincingly in the semi’s to All Saints who were in fine form and went on to win, congratulations to them for this.

“The teams will now take time to reflect on their fantastic achievements and look to continue their development in new school year.”

“I must say a special thank you to London 2012 Handball Competition Manager Alex Gavrilovic, and GB players Steven Larsson and John Pearce for presenting medals and trophies to winning the teams,” said organiser Ari Bekker. “They are a real inspiration to these young players and show that there is a legacy in handball is here to stay.

“A massive thank you also to all volunteers (table officials, referees) who made this event happen. Their help and support much appreciated, throughout the day and in recent weeks leading up to the event! Many thanks and congratulations to all participants, representatives, team managers and volunteers.”

And Mick Hegarty, the EHA’s Director of Performance, added: “The third National Schools Finals was a fantastic event and testament to the decision of the EHA to focus strategy on schools development over the last three years.

“The standard of play and quality of the athletes participating indicates how seriously the PE profession are taking our sport. The venue at Mayesbrook was a perfect setting and the standard of organisation by Ari Bekker's team of volunteers on the day and Miriam Pederson's hard work all year on the National Schools Committee set a really high standard for all to enjoy.

“I am very excited at the prospect of the England National Schools teams and eventually World Class Players which will be borne out of this competition.”

 * All photos: Krzysztol Wojciechowski


Thursday, June 14, 2012

NEM Hawks celebrate multiple trophies

NORTH East Manchester Hawks left the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace on Saturday with an impressive haul of eight trophies.

The Hawks club won both the boys and girls Under-18s cup finals to complete league and cup doubles.

But when the England Handball Association’s presentations were held on the court after the finals it was revealed that the club had also done the double in the Development League North (open age) after a countback in the women’s league with Manchester University and closest rivals Warrington Wolves failing to complete fixtures in the men’s.

Coach Donna Hankinson said: “When the boys lost the cup final last season we sat down as a club and set both Under 18 Cup and League as our targets.

“We increased the sessions to twice weekly and also entered the development league with the sole point being additional competition, I certainly never expected us to win everything. They have gone through the Under 18s competition undefeated and in the development league although we have had some indifferent performances - which is to be expected with young players learning their trade - we have still managed to beat older stringer and more experienced opposition.”

In the cup finals themselves, the girls were disappointed not to reproduce their league form as they struggled to find their stride against a determined Wirral outfit.

Hawks eventually won 16-11 but had it not been for some fine saves by goalkeeper Kara Hunte they would not have prevailed.

They improved after the break with Ruth Anderson scoring some particularly impressive goals in her five strikes.

The boys final was by contrast a thrilling encounter as Hawks beat Warrington Wolves 24-22.

Hawks’ captain Stefan Whaley gave his side a good start with two early goals and at one stage in the first half they led by seven with left-winger Tyrell Coley providing some excellent assists.

However, Warrington fought to stay in the match and pegged it back to 14-10 at the break with three late goals.

Sam Bedlow and James Higgins were the mainstay of the Hawks goal threat in the second period but it was opposition goalkeeper Alex Bradley who was the star of a pulsating finale.

The England U18 squad stopper pulled off a string of one-on-one saves to keep his team in the game and when Hawks were reduced to four outfield players through two-minute sin-bin offences in the closing stages they looked set to crumble.

However, a crucial stop by Hawks goalkeeper Marc Howard with less than a minute to play meant a relieved Hawks were able to run out the clock and the final whistle was the signal for celebrations aplenty.

Then to crown an amazing day for the two-year-old club, captain Ellie Whitehead was named EHA U18 player of the year and Donna Hankinson was named EHA coach of the year.

“I am shocked – I really expected Salford Coach Bill Baillie to receive the award this season,” said Hankinson.

“Knowing the award has been voted for by colleagues and players makes it really special. I have been involved in handball as a player and coach since I was 10 years old and I have never been prouder.

“This award is for the players that I’ve worked with and the club, they are a special bunch and I look forward to the seasons that lie ahead. For me personally it is an accolade for all mine and the players hard work and a reminder that if we are to continue improving then I have to continue to develop my coaching knowledge and experience, something I am more than determined to do.”

U18 Girls: Hawks 16, Wirral 11 ‹ Hawks scorers: Ruth Anderson (5), Beth Wilbraham (5), Ellie Whitehead (3), Eliza Morgan (1), Emily Maddison (1), Becky Barnes (1).

U18 Boys: Hawks 24, Warrington Wolves 22 ‹ Hawks scorers: Sam Bedlow (9), James Higgins (7), Steve Clarke (3), Stefan Whaley (3), Wes Hunt (1), Jamal Braithwaite (1).

Ruislip Eagles win EHA Cup

RUISLIP Eagles were crowned Women’s EHA Cup winners after a thrilling 24-22 victory over arch rivals London GD in the final at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Saturday.

The two evenly matches sides, who have shared the national titles between them for several years, were well matched again throughout the first half, but the Eagles got ahead with fast break goals which gave them an 11-7 lead at half time.

A two-minute suspension of a Ruislip player gave London GD the edge for the opening few minutes of the second half, and they fought back well. But the Eagles still managed to maintain a three-goal lead.

However, a purple patch for London GD helped them battle back to 15-15, and with ten minutes to go they went in front 20-18, despite being a player down for a period.

But Ruislip kept their nerve and clawed back the deficit to take the win by two goals.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

EHA Cup finals this Saturday

CRYSTAL Palace National Sports Centre is the venue for England Handball’s finals day this Saturday, a great chance to see some of the best handball the country has to offer!

Four great matches have been lined up, and for the participants it will mark the end of a long season of handball action which has seen them reach the final hurdle.
The EHA Men’s Plate will see Deva and Olympia do battle at 11.30am, with the presentation to the winner at 12.40pm.

The Under-18 Girls Cup final sees North East Manchester Hawks take on Wirral at 1.20pm, with the presentations following at 2.20pm.

The Hawks are also in the Under-18 Boys final and face Warrington at 2.35pm, with presentations at 3.55pm.

Finally, the EHA Women’s Cup final will see London GD take on Ruislip Eagles at 4.50pm, with presentations at 6pm.

The final of the EHA Men’s Cup will take place at Bethnal Green on June 30 between Salford and London GD.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edinburgh win Scottish Cup final

EDINBURGH were crowned Scottish Cup winners at the end of a thrilling day of action at the Ravenscraig Sports Centre on Saturday.

They ran out 41-20 winners over Dundee in the final, which was the highlight of a great day of action and a fitting culmination to a good season of handball action.

Earlier in the day Tryst had won the women’s final with a 35-22 victory over East Kilbride, while EK did have some glory, winning the girls Under-16 final 26-18 against Tryst.

East Kilbride’s Under-14 boys team win 20-16 against Livingston, however Livingston did take some glory from the day with a 22-18 win over Ayr in the boys Under-16 match.

Schools Finals line-up confirmed

THE line-up for the National Schools Handball competition is known after some thrilling action in the second round held last week.

More teams than ever before have taken part in this year’s tournaments, which have been split into different regions and age groups in order to fit in the amount of handball necessary to determine who makes it to the finals on Saturday, June 23 at the SportHouse complex in Barking.

In the boys event there were nine teams competing to finish in the top three and go through, and it was very close, going down to the number of goals scored.

The Bromfords School finished top of the group, while below them there were three teams all on 11 points, but after looking at the number of goals scored the teams joining Bromfords are All Saints and Harris, with Seven Kings missing out by just one goal.

In the girls competition it was Barking Abbey and Harris who qualified for the finals.

And in the Under-13 tournament, Harris, Erith School and the Ark Academy have reached the boys finals, while Harris and Ark Academy have also qualified for the girls U13 finals.

London Handball Development Officer Ari Bekker said afterwards: “It has been a great year for handball, we have had more teams competing in the National competition than ever before.

“The level has been extremely high and competitive throughout the rounds. It’s very exciting to have the national finals in London this year just a month before the Olympics. I’m looking forward to see the best teams from across the country competing against each other in the Finals on 23rd June.”

Chris Baker, coach of the Under-15 team from the Bromfords School said: “The Bromfords players have done extremely well as most of the players are very new to the game this is their first competition.

"The Buccaneers players have been playing for just under a year. It has been a great journey for them qualifying through the first round of this excellently run competition. And having one of our players Josh Da Silva was scouted for the England U16 team, so he will be going on tour to Sweden with the England squad which for him will be a fantastic experience.

“We would like to thank England Handball for this unbelievable competition, we are really looking forwards to playing against all the teams and wish them luck and may the best school triumph.”

And Harris Boys U15 player Josh Connolly added: “'The team was over the moon when they found out that they had qualified for the national final!

“The tournament was so close that the qualifying positions came down to goal difference and goals scored, this was very exciting and a testament to development of the quality of handball in the South of England. The team are looking forward to the Challenge of trying to became the best U15 team in the country.''

EHA Awards nominations now needed!

THE awards season is upon us, and nominations are invited for the England Handball Awards.

Your nominations must be in by June 5, so there is no time to spare!

Categories are:
Coach of the Season (all competitions)
Team Official of the Year (all competitions)
Referee Pair of the Season (all competitions)
Player of the Season (men's senior competitions)
Player of the Season (women's senior competitions)
U18 Player of the Season (all men's competitions)
U18 Player of the Season (all women's competitions)

Clubs may nominate one person (or one pair, in the case of the referees award) for the coach, team official and referee awards. This person may be from their own club or another club. A brief qualifying statement (150 words max) must accompany the nomination.

For the player awards, clubs are requested preferably to nominate players from opposing clubs. Clubs should therefore nominate a maximum of two players in any one category, with the proviso that only of those players may be from their own club. A very brief statement (100 words max) naming the player, his/her club and justifying the nomination should accompany the nomination. The deadline for nominations is 5th June.

All nominations are to be sent to Miriam Pedersen miriamp@greatersport.co.uk

Don't delay: Vote now!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ruislip Eagles women win the league

RUISLIP Eagles Ladies successfully defended their National League title by securing a comfortable 32-20 win against Olympia on Sunday.

With London GD fielding a weakened team and unexpectedly losing their final game against Thames in the match before, Ruislip had the luxury of knowing that they were champions again before the match even started but were determined to finish with another victory.

The match was tightly contested throughout the first half with Olympia’s Dorota Basta playing an influential part but gradually Eagles exerted their influence over the game and went in at half time with a two goal lead.

From then on the result was never in doubt as Ruislip stepped up with the fast breaks and Dani Sposi scored 10 goals to ensure the comfortable win but it was not a match that pleased coach Mel Chowns from an aesthetic point of view.

“I am delighted we have won the league again but this was not a pretty match for the spectators and not our best performance but I guess that doesn’t matter on a day like today. We have had a very tough season with some horrendous injuries to key players so I am very proud of the team to keep going and secure another title.”

Ruislip Eagles and London GD will contest the Cup Final on June 9th but Ruislip could well be without Coach Chowns and Dani Sposi who are on GB duty in Spain.

Thames victory shocks London GD

THAMES climbed to third in the table on the back of their shock National League victory over London GD at Leyton SCORE Centre on Sunday.

London GD got off the starting block slightly better than Thames and were leading by a couple of goals throughout the first half of the match.

Thames were nevertheless trying to answer goal for goal to avoid letting their opponents develop too much of a lead. Halftime the score was 9:8 to London GD, with Emilie Enger Aas scoring for Thames HC; a split-second before the halftime whistle went.

This last-breath goal proved decisive as Thames came out of the break with renewed spirits. The second half was very much a one-sided affair.

Close, rigorous defending and taking more chances in attach soon led to a 3 goal advantage for Thames HC and mistakes started to creep in as London GD saw the hope for the League title slip away from them.

During the 30 minutes of the second half, Thames only conceded three goals overall whilst managing to score 9-4 of the penalty shots as the opposition's defence had to resort to fouls to stop the attacks from wings and back court players. After a team time out called by London GD's coach, they rallied round but it was a mixture of desperation and bad luck that in the end spelt defeat for the EHA Cup title aspirant.

Thames ended third in the National League and are hopeful of entering the new season with a quality team, challenging the rest for both the League and the Cup title in 2013.

Top goalscorer for Thames was Emilie Enger Aas with 9 goals followed by Olimpia deVeiga and Nikoletta Papp with 3 goals each.

Top international referee coming to England

FORMER elite IHF referee Peter Hansson will be delivering the EHA’s latest Referees’ Course this weekend in tandem with the Liverpool International Tournament.

The Swedish referee is an EHF lecturer and is coming over to help with the development of refereeing skills in England.

The free of charge course will see a number of sessions, both practical and theoretical.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Teams prepare for Liverpool Tournament

HANDBALL players across Britain and beyond are preparing for the annual Liverpool International Handball Tournament in the city on May 25-27.

The event always proves popular and has attracted overseas teams as well as some of the best of British handball talent to the Greenbank Sports Academy.

The men’s competition will see 16 teams do battle, while there are eight teams in the women’s event and six in the wheelchair handball tournament.

The action starts on Friday from 6-9pm, and continues on Saturday from 9am-6pm. Sunday’s matches run from 9am-5pm.

Salford and London GD to meet in EHA Cup final

Salford booked their place in the EHA Cup final after a comfortable victory over Cambridge on Sunday.

After 10 minutes of the game Salford had already opened up an 8-1 lead and from there on in were never in any danger. Indeed by half time their lead had extended out to 11 goals at 16-5. Salford's dominance in the first half clearly overwhelming their visitors.

The second half offered slightly more promise for Cambridge. Clearly Salford had relaxed a little at half time and Cambridge took advantage and at least managed to stay in contact with their opponents throughout the second half.

In doing so avoiding what could have been a bit of a drubbing at the hands of the newly crowned league champions. However, even with their best efforts they could only match Salford and whilst they did at one stage bring the lead back to 9, Salford ensured that for most of the half the lead stayed around 10 goals before finishing with a flurry to finish up winners by 13 goals at 34-21.

Plaudits have to go to Cambridge left back Majoros who managed to score 8 goals and also to Salford's Ste Clarke and Jack Hennessy who both scored 5 each. Matt Lee once again showed his class in the Salford defence with 7 blocks and Ciaran Williams contributing 11 assists helped Salford to their comfortable victory.

So an exciting final is now on the cards. With current league champions Salford taking on reigning cup holders London Great Dane it promises to be another thrilling affair with all to play for.

In the other semi final, London GD cruised past University of Manchester 38-18 to book a spot in the final against Salford.

They will get the chance to warm-up for the final this Sunday when Salford and London GD meet in the final English League play-off weekend at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool, which also includes Manchester v Cambridge and Leeds Hornets v Ruislip Eagles.

* In the EHA Plate Deva reached the final with a 41-30 win over Warwick University. They will play the winner of the Olympia v Manchester semi final on May 27.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Salford Crowned English League Champions

SALFORD were crowned champions of the EHA Men’s National League after beating southern rivals Ruislip Eagles in their penultimate clash of the play-offs.

Salford have dominated most of their matches this season, but looked really nervy prior to the clash with the Eagles. A win or a draw would see them take the league title for the first time in almost 20 years. A great deal of responsibility resting on some very young shoulders.

The gravity of the game clearly had an impact on Salford's early performance. Their usual fluency in attack and almost impenetrable defence were nowhere to be seen as the game got underway.

Ruislip on the other hand set off with clinical efficiency as they converted almost all their early chances to open up a five-goal lead by the mid-point of the half. Whatever they tried, Salford were always struggling to recoup that lead. For every goal Salford scored, Ruislip came back with one of their own.

A superb team performance by Ruislip really putting pressure on the league leaders. By half time, Salford had only managed to recoup one goal of the deficit to go in four down at 10 goals to Ruislip's 14.

As the second half got underway Salford came out the quicker, closing the gap to two before Ruislip once again regained the upper hand to take the lead back to three. And so that was to be the story of the half, every time Salford closed the lead Ruislip managed to find a way to open it up again.

Down to two goals, back to three goals then back to two goals by the time Ruislip took a time out at 20 minutes into the half. Things were now on a knife edge, but Salford were gradually gaining the upper hand. Holding the gap to two goals and the momentum was turning. Only slightly, but it was definitely turning.

As the game got back under way it was now Salford putting pressure on Ruislip. Would they buckle or could Ruislip hold out and force the championship to come down to the last game of the season? A herculean effort was called for from both teams and neither disappointed.

As the final 10 minutes of the game got underway, still neither team could be separated. However, Salford managed to grab back a goal and then another to level the game with just a couple of minutes to go. Crucial defending turned over the ball to allow Salford to call a time out with just over a minute of the game left to play.

Clearly, a long attack with retained possession was the order of the day. Play it through and create a good scoring chance would be the instruction from the Salford coaches. Alas, the best laid plans would come awry after just three passes of the restart. A missed pass saw the ball go out of play and possession return to Ruislip.

A long hard period of defence was to follow. Numerous chances to break through were quashed as the Salford defence finally decided to turn up and do what its renowned for - stopping teams scoring. As the final horn sounded, a very relieved Salford celebrated their first championship in almost two decades. The score, a 28 - 28 draw. A result both teams very much deserved.

After the game, Salford Head Coach Bill Baillie said, "I am really happy for everybody involved at the club, we took a big gamble financially to move to three training sessions per week, but now the players have their reward for all the commitment and time they have put in.

"It was a nervy game for the players and it was important that they stayed composed and never panicked. This now allows us to focus on getting to the Cup final in what will be another difficult semi final against Cambridge"

"Thanks must also go to our band of supporters who have followed us in every game, Salford Community Leisure, Salford University and Liverpool John Moores University for all their support."

* Olympia beat Thames 28-25 in a thrilling Women’s Cup clash on Saturday, while in Men’s Plate action, Warwick University won 40-38 against Liverpool Speke Garston.

This weekend, The Men’s EHA Cup resumes with the semi finals. London GD take on University of Manchester at the Sugden Sports Centre in Manchester, while over at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool Salford will play Cambridge.

1000s of youngsters experience handball!

THOUSANDS of young children from across London got to sample handball in the One Movement event at the Olympic Handball Arena last week.

More than 1,500 youngsters took part in different sports in the venue in an event designed to capture their imaginations, but handball proved to be the biggest hit of the day.

“This was the best and biggest event so far,” said London Handball Development Officer Ari Bekker. “Seeing hundreds of young people enjoying themselves and playing the greatest sport on earth was great! I have never seen so many kids in different age groups playing handball at the same time, and having the time of their lives at an Olympic venue just three months before the Games.”

And Chris Anderson from Pro Active East London added: “The sessions were a huge success with the area completely filled with young people throughout the day and we had to extend the area available as the sessions were so popular with the young people and even this area was constantly used.

The mix of sessions from skill drills, shooting practice using the Olympic handball goal, and small sided games worked fantastically well and kept the participants engaged throughout the day with many participants returning to the handball sessions again and again.

“The volunteers running the sessions ensured everyone was able to participate in a safe environment and were excellent at engaging the young people and ensuring no-one was unable to participate.

“The handball sessions were excellent and the sight of the Handball Arena floor being used for handball by so many young people was fantastic to see.”

Nicole Napier, the London Borough of Newham’s Sports and Activity Team Leader, added: “This was a great event which allowed 500 of Newham's young people to access an Olympic venue for the first time. A number of activities took place throughout the afternoon but one of the most popular activities was handball.  Ari Bekker provided taster sessions in handball allowing young people to experience handball for the very first time in some cases.”

And EHA National Club Officer Tom Smith said: “The EHA South Development Staff in partnership with volunteers from local club Newham Flames enjoyed what can only be described as the greatest day so far for legacy in East London with over 100 young people.

“It was an absolute joy seeing so many engrossed in the sport, they loved every minute of the day and their enthusiasm for the sport showed why it is so accessible even if you have never played the game and no matter your past sporting ability or gender - it suits everyone.

"This was a massive and probably once in a life time opportunity for these young people to set foot in the Olympic Park venue. Amazing!”

Carshalton crowned London League winners

THE Olympic training venue, SportHouse in Barking, played host to the finals of the London Under-16 Handball League.

Five teams battled it out in the culmination of a tough season of handball which has seen hundreds of young people playing the sport across the region.

In action at SportHouse were Carshalton Boys from South, All Saints-Newham Flames-Seven Kings from East and Harris Boys from Central Pro Active.

Brendan Earley from Carshalton Boys said afterwards: “Well done to all the teams who took part in the London Under-16s Handball League this year. It was a fantastic competition fought out in the pro-actives and then at the finals day. It was also a fantastic opportunity and experience to play in the brand new Olympic training venue at Mayesbrook.

“It has been another very exciting year for handball with all players and coaches waiting in anticipation for the Olympic draw and then the competition itself. I hope that this fantastic sport continues to grow in the legacy of the Olympic Games and that all the hard work put in on and off the court continues to pay off.

“With the development of new clubs teams, the England teams and greater amount of competition we all look forward to things to come in the near future.

The U16 league has been run since October last year and features monthly fixtures in each Pro Active region (South, East, Central). The best teams qualify for the final and played a round robin tournament to decide the winner. It has been a great year for handball and development around London. There is a massive interest in the sport which only increase with Olympic coming up.

And Josh Connolly from Harris Boys Academy added: “The Harris Boys Academy East Dulwich handball team can be very proud of themselves after finishing as runners up in London League Final.

The boys were very happy with their overall performances and can take strong belief into the second round of the Nationals. We would like to congratulate the winners, Carshalton boys, who were excellent!”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salford book Cup semi-final spot

SALFORD booked their spot in the semi finals of the EHA Men’s Cup when they beat Northern Section rivals Liverpool 33-20 on Saturday.

Current league leaders Salford clearly went into the game as favourites, but Liverpool, with the return of their players from England U18 duty, were determined not to let their local rivals have it all their own way. 

The first half of the game got away slowly for both teams. It has been a while since Salford last played a competitive fixture with players being away with GB and England a little bit of rust had set in to the team's cohesion and they struggled to capitalise on their early attacks. 

Indeed, Liverpool's young squad started the better, scoring the first goal of the game and keeping the score to one goal apiece after five minutes. Salford did eventually get into to gear though and took little further time to motor up a bit of a lead.

A strong spell between 5 minutes and 10 minutes saw them take a 5 goal lead at 7 to 2. This prompted a minor come back from Liverpool to bring the scores back to within three before Salford pushed on again to finish the first half ten goals to the good at 17-7.

A ten goal deficit at half time is not something many teams can overcome, especially when playing against one of the strongest defensive units in the league. However, full credit needs to go to the plucky young Liverpool squad. At no point did they give up. Indeed, coming out after half time you could have said they were the more hungry of the teams for victory. 

Whilst the teams swapped goal for goal during the first five minutes of the second half, the second 5 minute period was the mirror opposite of the first half. This time it was Liverpool that outscored Salford by 6 goals to 1 to bring the scores back to within 5. Alas, though, that was the closest Liverpool were to come. 

Taking back control of the game, Salford regrouped and applied a little bit more focus to the job at hand. In doing so they cut out many of the basic errors that had cost them dearly in the first period of the half. 

With just over 20 minutes gone their lead was back up to 10 and by the end of the half Salford had managed to extend their lead to 13 to win by 33 goals to 20.  

Salford will take on Cambridge in the semi finals on May 12/13 after they beat Bath University 35-24. 

* In the English Leagues, Ruislip Eagles convincingly beat Warrington Wolves 38-16 at Birchwood in the women’s First Division, while Olympia beat Thames 37-27. 

The English Men’s League play-offs continue this Sunday with leaders Salford taking on third-placed Ruislip Eagles at SportHouse in Barking on Sunday. 

And on the same day, London GD take on Manchester and Cambridge play Leeds, both at Leyton SCORE Centre.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

England U18 Boys secure historic win

ENGLAND Under-18 boys secured a historic 29-27 victory over Moldova in their final qualifying match of the European Championships in Turkey last week.

Their debut victory came after a superb performance from all members of the team, and left Head Coach Scott Harrington a happy man.

Although a small nation, Moldova are strong in handball and won the senior European Challenge Trophy earlier this year.

But England were not daunted by their final opponents in a three-match group stage to the Under-18 European Championships.

Training camps in Germany and Denmark had paid dividends and the squad held a further preparation camp at SportHouse in Barking, and friendly matches were played with Ruislip Eagles and Newham Flames which ensured the team would go to Turkey full of confidence that they would put on a good show and learn from the experience.

Nervous in the build-up to their match with favourites Iceland, England U18s found the opening ten minutes a struggle but came to terms with their surroundings and were 12 down. The first half performance showed the side still had plenty to learn to replicate the athletic ability of their opposition to perform for 30 minutes.

21-9 down at the break, England battled back in the second half and stemmed the flow of goals somewhat, losing out 38-20.

The hosts Turkey were up next and the crowd were right behind them. The noise was deafening but this only raised the morale of England who lead 8-6 in the first 15 minutes before Turkey dominated the end of the half as England realised again elite athletes must last every minute!

Once again England regularly found the back of the goal, this time on 23 occasions with ten coming from hot prospect Sam Bedlow (16). Ben Tyler (18) marshalled the defence and David Klaening continued to inspire with ten goals in a match they eventually lost only 36-23.

And England raised their game even more for the final match against Moldova, which was tight throughout with no side ever leading by more than two goals.

Team Manager Tom Smith said: “There were nerves and the odd technical error, but when you have squad members coming off the bench for their first taste of the action and scoring from ten metres - as was the case with Daniel Bright - and the desire of Tom Kelsall with his knee heavily strapped, and the new kid on the block Bryn Edwards defying belief of all his team mates with a hip shot into the top left, there was a sense of belief that maybe England could do it.”

England ran out narrow 29-27 winners, with Klaening finishing as top-scorer in that match with six goals, while Bedlow adding five and Clark 4.

Overall in the three matches, Bedlow was top scorer with 20 while Klaening added 19.

Favourites in line for EHA Cup final clash

THE two favourites in the EHA Men’s Cup have been kept apart in the semi final draw made at SportHouse in Barking last weekend, increasing the likelihood that they will play each other in the final.

London GD will play University of Manchester in their semi final on May 12/13, while Salford – who have yet to beat Liverpool in their quarter final – will play the victor from Cambridge v Bath in their semi tie.

The draw was made in the presence of referees and members of the public, while the EHA Men’s Plate semi finals will be Olympia v Manchester and Deva versus either Warwick of Liverpool Speke Garston.

London GD only just reached the semi finals after a tough match against rivals Ruislip Eagles which they won 24-27.

The previous day, Manchester University had cruised into the semi finals with a 31-17 victory over Bristol.

And in the women’s EHA Cup, Ruislip Eagles edged past Olympia 34-26 on Sunday, while Saturday saw London GB beat Warrington Wolves 32-21.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's crunch time in EHA Cup

IT’S crunch time in the EHA Cup this weekend, with some crucial matches being played across the country as clubs go in search of silverware.

The EHA Men’s Cup is at the quarter final stage, and the University of Manchester will take on Bristol on Saturday at Sugden Sports Centre in Manchester.

The following day at SportHouse in Barking, Ruislip Eagles and London GD will do battle in a match which is never half-hearted.

In the women’s EHA Cup on Saturday Warrington Wolves will play London GD at Birchwood, while Sunday’s other Women’s Cup match sees Ruislip Eagles play Olympia at SportHouse.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

London GD keep title hopes alive

London GD maintained the push for the Men’s National League title when they beat Leeds Hornets 40-24 at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

Second in the table, London GD will need to win their remaining two matches – and hope Salford lose both theirs – if they are to take the 2011-12 title.

Against Leeds, London GD had Juan Carrasco to thank for scoring ten goals, while Phillip Altong chipped in the eight.

Marcin Cwik scored 13 for Leeds, but it was not enough to avoid defeat for a Hornets team who had just the seven bare players for the match.

In other matches, third-placed Ruislip Eagles beat Manchester 31-24 with Christian Nguelo scoring seven goals. For Manchester, Minas Georgiou and Semit Liatouji both scored seven goals, but Manchester couldn’t overhaul their opponents.

Table-topping Salford were given a 10-0 walkover in their clash with Cambridge, who failed to raise a side for the match.

But Salford’s title is far from certain – their final two matches in the play-offs are against second-placed London GD and third-placed Ruislip Eagles.

Veteran Eagles swoop past Thames

INJURY-hit Ruislip Eagles women had to call up the old guard for their clash with Thames on Sunday – but they still managed to secure a 23-18 victory in the English National League clash at Leyton SCORE Centre in London.

Eagles were already without three of their key players to long term injuries, and faced Thames with three further key players missing including their top scorer, Danni Sposi, and influential defender Milli Chebanova. But they knew that if they were to have any chance of retaining the league, they could not lose this vital match.

So coach Mel Chowns stepped out of retirement, Rena Fairbrother and Andrea Szanto stepped up to play a full 60 minutes and Ella Jadeszko returned to cover Chebanova role in defence and the veterans combined well with their younger teammates to pull off an excellent victory.

Ruislip were also determined to give right winger Judit Volgyi a winning send off as she returns home to Hungary.

Ruislip started the better, but were soon pegged back by Thames who were also without key players but had Olimpia Lopes da Veiga in good scoring form.

Half time was a close one-goal lead for Ruislip but they stepped up a gear in the second half and Szanto began to really cause trouble through the centre and Volgyi scored from fast breaks and this ensured a key victory for Ruislip by 23-18. Da Veiga finished with 7 goals for Thames, a total matched by Szanto.

The win leaves the league delicately poised with Great Dane just two points ahead but having played a game more than Ruislip. Significantly, Ruislip’s goal difference is +12 on Great Dane and this could be the deciding factor at the end of the season.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Salford beat rivals London GD in play-offs

NORTHERN Section winners Salford beat Southern Section winners London GD 29-27 in a thrilling English National League play-off clash on Sunday.

Despite currently filling the second place spot, London GD went into the game confident. Having met Salford three times last season and winning each time, there would be no reason for them to expect anything but a victory this time round too.

Salford on the other hand could be far from confident. The last time these two teams met saw Salford end up on the wrong end of a 19 goal drubbing. A defeat that handed London GD last year's league title.

The game started tight with no team managing to turn their opening attacks into goals. However, London GD were first to break to deadlock and soon after had opened up a 4 goal to nothing lead.

At this stage there was a real danger of history repeating itself, but an opening goal from Salford's Aden Woodall seemed to ease the tension slightly and give the northerners the bit of a boost they needed. A few minutes later London GD were forced to call an early time out as Salford crept up on their lead and were now only trailing by two at 5-3.

The time out didn't help. With every attack that followed you could see the confidence growing in the youngsters from the north. All helped by their renowned strength in defence. As the sides grew level the turning of the tide was obvious. As the teams went in at half time Salford had returned the 4 goal deficit to go in ahead by a single goal at 12-11.

Clearly the start of the second half was going to be key now to the outcome of the game. If London GD could retake the lead and reopen their ealier advantage then the chances of Salford coming back again would be minimal. Once again crumbling to the southern superiority that had kept the title in the south for a number of years.

Salford, however, seemed to know what would be coming. Taking the time to refresh their line up, it was Salford that came out with all guns blazing, leaving their opponents shell shocked and trailing by 5 goals after just 5 minutes.

To their credit though London GD didn't give up. As true champions, they are always a threat and worked hard to try and recoup the deficit. But, Salford's greater fitness and speed just made that task impossible. Even with two late 2-minute suspensions, Salford would not succumb to London GD's pressure.

A goal to keep Salford up by three with a minute left made the outcome certain. Even with a late goal from London GD the result was now inevitable. Salford ending an entertaining match victorious at 29 goals to 27.

Salford Assistant Coach, Kristian Marsh, said after the game: “Any match against London GD is going to be tough. They are a well established club with a great record to show for it. They've been deserved champions for a number of seasons and any team that comes to play them have to be at their best, especially down here in London.

“We played well as a team today and showed that we do not rely on any one single player. This was a massive result for us, it takes us one step closer to the title and banishes the memories of last season's catastrophic final game. We do though need to keep the momentum going. This season's far from over and we are in no way guaranteed of anything. We've wounded London GD a little today, but, just like a wounded animal, that will make them all the more dangerous next time".

Notable performances on the day come once again from Salford's Rafik Tahraoui, scoring 6 goals, and London GD's Jordi Ferrer-Torras, scoring 7. With 11 assists Salford's Aden Woodall played a great supporting part and with a save rate of over 50 per cent Salford's Rob Avery showed his value in goal.

* In other play-off action, Cambridge moved up to fourth in the play-off table with a 23-17 victory over Manchester, while Ruislip Eagles were 34-25 winners over Leeds Hornets.

The play-offs resume on April 1 at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool, where Leeds Hornets play London GD, Salford take on Cambridge and Manchester play Ruislip Eagles.

National U15 Champs attracts 100s of youngsters

MORE than 400 eager young handball stars of the future took part in the National Under-15 Championship heats at SportHouse in Barking last week.

The first round of the national competition saw a very high standard of handball being played.

The boys event was split into three groups, with the top three teams from each going forward to the next stage of the competition. From Group One, Carshalton Boys, Woolwich Polytechnic and The Bromfords School go through, while in Group Two All Saints topped the group, while Bexley Heath and Tiffin School were close behind. And Harris Boys, Aylesbury Grammar and Seven Kings from Redbridge will also go through.

Harris Girls and barking Abbey were the two teams to go through to the next stage in the girls competition, while The Bromfords School and Bexley Heath will join them after finishing first and second.

The event took place at SportHouse, which is where international teams will train during the Olympic Games this summer.

After the event, Harris Girls Team Manager, Marcus Kudliskis said: ''Both the U13s and U15s National events were just amazing and extremely well organised, providing students with the opportunity to play on a full-size Olympic court, with official referees, and having to abide by all the Olympic rules and regulations.

“They were also greeted by professional players and coaches who even took the time to show students a few new skills and tricks whilst they were warming up on court!''

And Crispin School’s PE department also enjoyed the day, saying: “All the staff were really helpful and friendly and the referees all took the time to answer our questions about the game and helped our pupils to understand handball better (this was our first time playing other schools at handball and we have only really been playing it since January).

“A lot of our players were from year 9 (14 year olds), yet they really benefitted from playing. We had a 5 1/2 hour coach trip back to Somerset and they couldn't stop talking about it all the way back!”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wolves clinch EHA Cup quarter final spot

LIVERPOOL Wolves booked their place in the quarter finals of the EHA Men’s Cup with a 32-21 victory over Deva at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

The Wolves started with an aggressive 5-1 defence which brought good results, allowing them to catch Deva on the break and obtain a comfortable six-goal lead throughout the first half.

Goals were coming from both teams, however, and Liverpool started stalling towards the end of the first half thanks to a deep defence from Deva which impeded Liverpool from moving the ball at a fast pace.

The second half started with Deva playing an aggressive 4-2 defence, followed by quick breakthroughs, and they managed to edge as close as four goals down. This could have gone very wrong for Liverpool, but somehow the Wolves managed to stop the tide against them and slowly, started to get over Deva's defensive efforts.

Once the technical faults on Liverpool's part started to fall, Deva could not get fast breaks, and struggled against the solid 5-1 defence. The physical strain started to show in both teams, but maybe due to inexperience, this lead to late tackles from the Deva defence, and a continuous six minutes with at least one man down. Liverpool utilised the chances and the score difference kept increasing until the final whistle, giving a clear victory for Liverpool in the end.

* This weekend, the National League play-offs resume with three matches being staged at the new SportHouse facility in Barking.

The key clash of the afternoon looks set to be the top-two match-up of London GD v Salford, while the other matches are Ruislip Eagles v Leeds Hornets and Cambridge v Manchester.

London GD edge past rivals Ruislip

London GD edged to a thrilling 25-24 victory over arch rivals Ruislip Eagles in the latest action from the English Women’s League.

The match at the new SportHouse facility in Barking was close throughout, although Ruislip had edged ahead 11-13 at the break, only for London GD to hit back and take the win by the narrowest of margins.

Before that clash, Olympia beat Warrington Wolves 36-22 in the day’s other league match. Ten goals from Dorota Basta and nine from Souniv Naess helped them take the win.

But that was not the end of the day for Warrington Wolves, who had a short break before having to play Thames in the EHA Cup two hours later.

However, their efforts took their toll and Warrington went down 34-22, with Thames’ top-scorer being Emilie Enger Has with seven goals.

Newcomers Gedling host tournament

THE new Gedling Warriors Handball Club had their first real run out last weekend, taking on the Universities of Nottingham and Loughborough in a friendly round robin tournament.

Warriors were only formed in September last year and will hope to be competing in the Development Leagues next season.

In their first match they took on Loughborough and although the students had the best of the first half, after the break the Warriors fought back hard and put their opponents under some pressure. Although Loughborough ran out winners 17-13 thanks to a sterling first half performance, the new boys took the second half.

Loughborough were straight back onto court to take on Nottingham and this was a superb advert for Student Handball with the game nip and tuck right up to the last 5 minutes or so when Nottingham just took advantage of a tiring Loughborough team, winning 24-21.

The last match saw Gedling take on Nottingham to try to improve on the 27-9 defeat inflicted on them by the students last December. Nottingham were keen to do well and were only 11-9 down at half time. Once again, Nottingham called on their greater experience to pull away, eventually winning the game 23-14 and, with it, the tournament.

Gedling are looking for as many fixtures as possible between now and next season in an attempt to become more competitive – contact Colin Wills for more details on Colin.Wills@nottingham.ac.uk

Top skills on show in U13 Champs

SOME top handball skills were on show at the National Under-13 Handball Competition in Barking on Saturday, where the new SportHouse facility played host to the regional heats.

More than 300 young people took part in the event, from schools and clubs from across London and the South of England. The top three teams from both the boys and girls competitions will go through to the second round of the competition in May, with the grand finals eventually being held in London in June.

Ark Academy from Wembley won all their games to finish as top girls team, while also going through to the second round are Harris Girls Academy and last year’s finalists Helenswood Girls Academy.

Harris Boys School from Southward won the boys Group 1 event, again with maximum points, and they will be joined in the second round by Woolwich Polytechnic and Ark Academy.

The Boys Group 2 event was won by Erith School, while All Saints Catholic School and Carshalton Boys School also go through.

Carshalton Boys Team Manager Keith Middleton said: 'This has been a fantastic tournament that really showed off the progress that handball has made in the UK in the last couple of years. Lots of high level competition and more importantly hundreds of boys and girls enjoying themselves.”

And Lynn Barker, the Event Co-ordinator at SportHouse, added: “Friday, 16 March, saw the first competition in SportHouse, the under 13 schools completion saw schools from all over London competing in the first round.

“The young people were excited to be playing in this massive centre where the world’s best will be training during the Olympics. For many of the young people it was their first ever competition and both they and their teachers thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it was absolutely brilliant to see.”

* Photos by Mathilde Friggieri

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salford book European slot

SALFORD secured their return to European competition for the first time in nearly 20 years when they beat National League play-off rivals Ruislip Eagles 32-24 on Sunday.

The victory keeps Salford top of the play-off table and extends their unbeaten run to 23 games. It also ensures they will finish in the top three, thereby giving them a spot in the European Challenge Trophy.

Salford's coach Bill Baillie said after the game: "This was a great result for us. Not only has it kept our place at the top of the league but it has also given us a great confidence boost for our next match against reigning league champions London GD. The fact that it has also secured our return to European Competition is just a massive bonus and reflects on all the hard work that has been put in this season.”

Any game against Ruislip is a tough test. Having been leaders of the southern section for much of the season and having defeated Salford on their last three meetings, Ruislip would go into the game as favourites. However, Salford were keen to exorcise past demons and come out of the game with the win they needed to secure a much prized European spot.

The game started off close with both sides swapping early goals, after 10 minutes Salford had managed to retain a slender one goal lead at 4:3. As the half progressed the crowd were entertained by some attractive handball from both sides. But, the strength of the Salford defence combined with their speed and creativity in attack meant that Salford never relinquished their early lead.

With 25 minutes gone Salford were four up, but some late mistakes in the half allowed the southerners to come back to within two at half time, Salford going in ahead 14:12.

The second half started well for Salford as they extended their lead to five goals. However, Ruislip weren't going to give in without a fight and brought the score back to within three. But that was the closest they were to come.

The strength of the Salford defence just proved too much for the Ruislip attack. Every goal scored had to be hard won. The Salford defence was unyielding, so much so that only four shots on the Salford goal came from the six-metre line.

Ruislip's attempts to break through being akin to King Knute trying to stop the tide. A sterling team effort combined with probably the performance of the day from Salford's Matt Lee made sure that just wasn't going to happen.

After 40 minutes of the game the constant pressure told and Salford managed to further extend their lead. After 50 minutes it was back out to 5 goals and by the end of the game the gap had grown to 8. Salford ending up deserved winners by 32 goals to 24.

Notable performances on the day came from Salford's Rafik Tahraoui and Ruislip's Ludovic Cros who both scored eight goals. But, as already mentioned, the performance of the day came from Salford's defensive stalwart Matt Lee.

* In other play-off action, London GD maintained second spot with a 31-20 victory over Manchester, while Cambridge won the clash of the bottom two, beating Leeds Hornets 29-13.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cup battles provide thrilling entertainment

THE first round of the EHA Cup provided some thrilling handball across the country last weekend, as clubs battled for a place in the last eight of the annual competition.

The match between Manchester University and Liverpool Speke Garston proved a real cracker, with Sugden Sports Centre in Manchester witnessing a high-octane and fast-paced game.

Liverpool Speke Garston continuing their recent improvement and pushed Manchester University all way. A series of missed open goal shots enabled the Manchester team to go in six goals ahead at half time.

The second half was fiercely contested and goals came fast and furiously as both teams raised the tempo, fast breaking by both teams pushed the score up as the teams clinically scored goal for goal throughout the half.

Liverpool Speke Garston hauled back the score in the last ten minutes, going for a man to man press that buckled the Manchester team. Liverpool Speke closed the gap to three goals but the damage done in the first half was to prove their downfall.

Having outscored Manchester in the second half it was not enough and Speke lost out 38-35. The game played was a credit to both teams and English handball.

Elsewhere, National League play-off leaders Salford cruised to a 26-7 victory over Manchester, while at Leyton SCORE Centre in London Cambridge just edged out Olympia 31-29.

Bath University came out 36-27 winners from their match against Warwickshire University, while the final round one match between Deva and Liverpool Wolves will be played on March 17.

Top clash in Play-Off Race

LEADERS Salford take on Ruislip Eagles in the second round of National League play-off matches at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

The clash between the teams lying first and third could prove crucial to both side’s hopes of winning the league and going forward to European competition this summer.

In other matches that day, second-placed London GD will be aiming to keep pace with Salford when they take on Manchester, while the play-off’s bottom two teams, Leeds Hornets and Cambridge, will meet.

Thrilling matches in County Championships

THE future of handball in England is bright, if the standard of play on show at the County Championship and North v South Under-16s clash in London last weekend is anything to go by!

Four teams battled for the County title in the event, with Cheshire coming out on top, while Bedfordshire finished second, Merseyside third and London PA East fourth after six entertaining matches.

The games were very close, showing that no one region has the monopoly when it comes to handball skills, and many of the players on show could have bright futures ahead of themselves in the sport.

The day was rounded off by a North v South Under-16s match, which the North won 24-15.

But with just one training session together prior to the match, the south team acquitted themselves well.

Mohamed Elkedim, the coach of the Under-16 South Squad, said: “The tournament was well organised and we saw some good handball. The South team surely with time and more practise will improve more.”

* Photos by Mathilde Friggieri

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frontrunners all win in Play-Offs

AFTER just one week of the English National League play-offs, the frontrunners are already starting to pull away following matches at Leyton SCORE Centre on Sunday.

Salford are top of the table after beating Cambridge 25-19 but had a tough job in battling past their southern rivals, who were holding them 9-11 at half time. Ryan Goodwin scored five goals for Salford, while Chris Bentz also netted five for Cambridge.

Elsewhere, third-placed Ruislip Eagles beat Manchester 32-19.

Last year defeat against Manchester at the exact same stage of the competition cost the Eagles the National title.

But on Sunday the Eagles did not make the same mistake. Although the start of the game was slow and marred by several offensive mistakes and technical faults, the Eagles regrouped and started taking control of the game a few minutes before the half time break when the score was 16-12.

Without complacency, they started the second half dominantly and used the depth of their bench to increase the gap. The defence appeared focused and solid around the goalkeeper Andrius Rinkevicius who conceded only seven goals in the second half.

Christin Nguelo with seven goals finished top scorer for the Eagles, but at the end it is a good collective performance that allowed the Eagles to take a clear victory 32-19.

In other matches, London GD maintained second spot with a 36-20 victory over Leeds Hornets.

The play-offs continue on March 11 at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool with Salford v Ruislip, Manchester v London GD and Leeds Hornets v Cambridge.

Impressive line-up for Liverpool Festival

TEAMS from across Europe will come to England in May for the ever-popular annual Liverpool International Handball Festival.

The two-day event has attracted domestic teams from Spain, Norway, Holland and Switzerland as well as several top teams from England and Scotland.

Running from May 26-27, the event will also include a four-club wheelchair handball event.