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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.