Youngsters try out growing sport

Interest in Handball has risen dramatically since the London 2012 Olympics.

Now, thanks to the newly-formed Handball Devon, people in North Devon are being given the chance to try out the fast-paced game for themselves.

A series of 19 taster sessions at 11 locations throughout June offered coaching sessions to 435 school children, which is the most played team game by women in Europe and second only to football overall.

Bideford-based Handball Devon have now secured a top French coach in Aym Dupuy, who brings over 15 years of playing and coaching experience to the table from the continent.

"We want to develop a junior and senior Handball club in North Devon by October 2013," said Dupuy.

"This will allow us to bring on talented youngsters as well as coach those who just want to try something new and play the sport for fun.

"It is a really exciting time for Handball in England and the time is right to help the sport develop in North Devon."

The sport's governing body, England Handball, has received substantial funding since the Olympics to help the sport develop across the country. They have employed more staff and are offering equipment support packages for schools.

Handball Devon is working closely with England Handball and Active Devon to push their plans forward.

Among the primary schools to have benefited from taster sessions are Woolsery School and East the Water School in Bideford.

"Handball in school is a really exciting prospect," said Deputy Head Teacher of East-The-Water primary school Adam Buckeridge. "This sport covers most of the points in the PE curriculum and is extremely flexible and can be played indoors or out.

"The children have really enjoyed the taster sessions and because it is inclusive and great fun we would like to introduce it here at East the Water as soon as possible".

Woolsery School's PE co-ordinator Sasha Macleod said: "It was raining outside at the time so we did the Handball taster session in our hall.

"Despite space being limited for a ball sport, the coach was able to do fun training exercises and finish the session with an exciting game using equipment provided by Handball Devon on the day".

Following successful taster sessions, Kingsley School in Bideford are also very keen to see the sport develop there and are in talks with Handball Devon to run after school activity clubs including a youth community club.

The association aim to set up public 'come and try' club events in October in Bideford and Barnstaple, and sessions have already been set up with Chulmleigh Recreational Association beginning in September.

Schools and community clubs can still apply for free taster sessions at the start of the next school year. To find out more about this or for more information on the sport, contact Handball Devon through their website www.handballdevon.co.uk, find them on Facebook or Twitter, or call 07854 330823.