Handball – inspiring Britain!

It would be fair to say that handball was pretty much a mystery to Brits before the London 2012 Olympics.

However, the British fans seemed to have embraced the fast-paced sport during the 16 day event. The Copper Box which housed the handball matches became one of the hottest tickets for the Games and seemed unaffected by the empty seat row which broke out at the start of the Olympics.

Team GB only formed their squad in 2007 and although they didn’t advance far in the competition, interest in the sport has sky rocketed. With one and a half million people tuning in to BBC Three to watch the Team GB men’s first match and the live attendance for the semi-final reaching 9,000 it was clear that the British public were hooked.

One of the main aims for the GB team going into London 2012 was to gain recognition for the sport. An important aspect of this was helping the British audience understand the game. Before each match, a 30 minute video was shown on the big screens to educate the spectators on rules, stats, tactics, teams, players, and history so that they had some sort of idea of what was going on when the game started.

Paul Goodwin the Chief Executive for the British Handball Association has worked hard to develop handball and ensure a higher media profile and increased popularity in the UK. Going into the London 2012 Olympics Paul had this to say;

“Handball has grown massively over the last few years. We are thrilled to see how the actual tournament will contribute to this and the reactions of the audience, when they experience international handball in the Olympic Park or on TV.”

Paul’s extraordinary passion for the sport has led the organisation through an important period of change. With limited resources Paul managed to create business partnerships, facilitate sponsorship deals and provide opportunities at local levels for the GB teams. He is confident there will be a lasting legacy following their Olympic debut. He said;

“The response we have had during the Games is phenomenal. Young people are getting something out of it—our website crashed three times earlier in the week with people trying to find out more about the sport.”

Paul helped GB handball player Holly Lam-Moores sign a professional contract with top Danish club Viborg. It was a long hard road to the Olympics for Holly and the GB team. The game is very much a European sport so GB players often have to train abroad and be away from home for substantial lengths of time. In January 2009 British handball’s funding was stopped which meant that the team had to spread out over Europe and find their own contracts and personal sponsorships as they no longer received a monthly wage from the association.

However, it was all worth it! Holly was voted Handball Player of the Year by the British Olympic Association and Team GB entered their first ever teams into the Olympics. Before the Games she said;

“We want to show Britain and the world at the Olympics how far we’ve come in the last four or five years…we’re competing with the top nations and getting results.”

We are big fans of British handball here at Inspiring Interns and have supported the sport since 2009. Ben Rosen says;

“Paul is an inspiration and has worked extremely hard to boost the media profile and the popularity of Handball in the UK. We are excited to see how the sport will develop after its success at the Olympics.”

The popularity and success of handball during the Olympics goes to show what you can achieve with hard work, dedication and passion. Hopefully after watching the Games, people will be inspired and want to be part of developing handball in the UK over the coming years. Who knows we may be celebrating a medal at the Rio Olympics in 4 years.