Thousands of people across the country enjoyed the crowd-pleasing opening performances from the men’s and women’s teams at the Copper box last summer.
Many people felt inspired by the legacy that handball left behind and seeing how fast it was growing in the country. Clubs and coaches at the grassroots are set to continue to help handball grow in the massive increased participation.
Although England Handball has just had its funding increased by 300% following London 2012, Holly Lam-Moores, 22, GB player complains that at the minute there are more grassroots players than senior players, but that she is grateful to finally see some money going into handball.
Lam-Moores: “I am not criticising Sport England, but sports like rounders and softball, were given more money than handball were – handball was given the least amount. I am grateful and we got some money, but it was about time.”
At present England Handball are keen to distance themselves from anything that discusses funding and are keen to educate the public that they are a separate body to British Handball, working with separate people with separate funding bodies. England Handball are responsible for developing the game at grassroots and is funded by Sport England.
Recently Sport England has given £1.2m to England handball for work with mass participation and mainly 14-25 year olds until 2017. Over 50,000 school children have experienced handball, and they work across all the major government programmes (Change4Life and Sainsburys School Games).
Handball had a massive upsurge in popularity prior to the Olympic games in London, mostly because of being included in the schools programme as part of the government´s Change4life creativity.
There are now more than 11,000 regularly playing handball in leagues and school competitions, three times the target of 3,000 Sport England provided. In England there is currently one Super 8 National league as well as a few amateur leagues split in three: North, Midlands and South . This, together with regional beginner tournaments, has seen a rise in people signing up to clubs every week.
Liam McCarthy: “England Handball has introduced 58,000 children and young people to handball in 2012 and we have up skilled 7000 coaches, teachers and leaders; 2200 young leaders deliver on 419 Change4Life Handball clubs nationwide.”
As a 15-year-old Holly Lam-Moores started playing for England and her parents had to pay £400 to go to Bosnia to play for the country. She only just finished her ECG exams before she was moved to Denmark to train for the Olympics.
She moved back to Denmark after the Olympics to play in the top league with Champions League winner Viborg. At the same time, she is trying to help increase the popularity of handball in England and is happy to see the Olympics left a legacy.
“Handball had a massive increasing participation, the Olympics changed everything; the amount of people who watched us and supported us. Surely that means they need putting money into it.
“I only noticed because we had nothing before, so the increasing of 300% means a lot. We have to use it wisely and do the right thing now and hopefully in 10 years time handball will be big.”
Recent headlines have suggested that funding for minority sports is in jeopardy, but the good work being done at grassroots to continue the extraordinary growth in the popularity of handball looks set to continue. Handball is played in all 9 Sport England regions and all 49 counties now.