British Handball has been making noise of late. Just this past weekend the Women’s team hosted and won a legitimate handball tournament. Latvia, the Faroe Islands, and the Turkish under 21’s may not be world powers, but it’s pretty safe to say that two years ago Great Britain would have lost handedly to each of those teams. In fact, just two years ago they lost to the Faroese by the absurd margin of 54-8! This time around they lost a close match, 16-15, but their other 2 victories gave them the overall first place on goal differential.
Not to be outdone the Men’s side traveled to the Middle East to take on Oman. So far on their trip they’ve split two contests, losing to the Omani 29-23 in the first match, but bouncing back to beat them 28-22 in the 2nd. Again Oman is not a world power, but they have had a National Team for several years and regularly participate in qualifying tournaments. And yes, I would bet the outcome would have been dramatically different a year ago.
None of this could have been accomplished, however, without the influx of cash provided to British Handball as a result of the 2012 Olympics being awarded to London. The British Handball Federation appears to have spent the money wisely identifying talent and then providing them quality training opportunities both in the UK and Denmark. This past weekend’s games were clear evidence of progress. While winning a medal was never a viable possibility, the goal of fielding a competitive team four years from now looks achievable.
With a financial crisis looming world-wide, however, the bad news that UK Sport (Great Britain’s USOC) is short 79 Million Pounds Sterling ($128 Million Dollars) of private financing that was intended to help support all 26 sporting disciplines. With that significant funding shortfall, there is now speculation that Handball, as well as other minor sports, could be on the chopping bloc for dramatically reduced funding. Here’s hoping that UK Sport uses a scalpel instead of a hatchet.
British Handball Blog on Women’s 4 Nations Tournament: http://www.womens-4-nations-handball.blogspot.com/
British Handball Report on games vs. Oman: http://britishhandball.worldhandball.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?menuid=1093&itemid=2066
London Telegraph: “British handball squad making strides in quest for London 2012 Olympic success“: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/handball/3223142/British-handball-squad-making-strides-in-quest-for-London-2012-Olympic-success-Handball.html
BBC: “Cash boost for 2012 Medal Hopes”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics/london_2012/7651394.stm
Evening Standard: “Handball could get the elbow over £79m shortfall”: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-olympics/article-23575806-details/Handball+could+get+the+elbow+over+79m+shortfall/article.do