USA Team Handball: Major youth initiatives launched

If you haven’t noticed USA Team Handball has launched several new initiatives in the past few months, most of them focused on youth programs:

– Youth teams trip to Germany:
– 8 youths participating in a semester exchange program in Iceland:
– Girl‘s futures program expansion:
– Youth camp:

I certainly could quibble about the merits of these initiatives around the margins (How do we know are we getting our money’s worth? Are the youth teams maybe a little too Colorado centric?, etc.), but I (and others) sure can’t complain about the Federation sitting around doing nothing. Arguably, there has been more activity in the last month or so in terms of youth programs than there has been in the entire history of Handball in this country

And if I had to debate the merits of each of these initiatives I would feel a lot more comfortable taking the “good idea” side then I would be taking the “bad idea” side. I haven’t seen any of the youths in the youth movement playing, so I can’t really judge whether they are future stars or not. But they are under 18, like the sport enough to spend some of their own resources to play it and some are even willing to live a few months in Iceland to improve their skills. It’s hard to find much wrong with that. And to those who might complain that their region is getting short shrift I would simply say there’s not much holding you back to start your own program.

In terms of the development continuum these programs can principally be categorized as talent identification and the beginning stages of player development. Essentially what was outlined in the grassroots section of my series “A Framework for Creating U.S. National Team Success” There’s bound to be some athletes that never materialize as Senior National Team players for a number of reason as taking these players and others to the next level in the critical ages of 18-22 will be a challenge. But, hey at least we have that as a challenge now.