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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!”