A visit to the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre last night to watch Great Britain’s ladies play Montenegro in the handball qualifiers. Currently Montenegro are one of the top teams in the world, while Great Britain have started to climb the rankings in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.
Handball is a very important sport in Europe, but less so in the UK – however in the last few years a young team have grown together and produced new athletes to watch such as Holly Lam-Moores, Louise Jukes, Lyn Byl, Sarah Hargreaves (a talented goalkeeper), and Britt Goodwin (perhaps best known prior to handball as the winner of the Norwegian Big Brother). Although Montenegro easily won last night, especially dominating the second half with players like Sara Vukcevic and Katarina Bulatovic, and a strong goalkeeping performance from Mirjana Milenkovic.
Handball is a quick and dynamic contact sport, with seven players on each side and two referees. Players can be swapped during the game, and fouls are punished by two-minute timeouts. The basic rules include no more than one bounce of the ball before passing, and having to score goals from within a defined section of the court with both feet off the ground.
As Olympic host nation, Great Britain have a free pass into the competition for both the women’s and men’s teams – however, the opportunity to become a team to reckon with looks likely to be grabbed with both hands, and with talented players like these on side, a quarter-final place looks a distinct possibility. For more on handball and GB’s journey, visit http://www.britishhandball.com.