The North East could be moving towards a handball revolution after Tyne Metropolitan College (TyneMet) became the first in the region to win funding to move the sport from grassroots to mainstream.
TyneMet is rolling out a new programmes aimed at creating widespread opportunities to play and learn, following a successful bid to become delivery partner to England Handball, the sport’s national governing body.
England Handball hopes the one-year programme, which has an option to extend, will also lead to an increase in qualified handball coaches.
The Sport Development team at TyneMet will include a specially created ‘handball ambassador’ from its Leadership Academy.
The Leadership Academy allows volunteers to gain experience of coaching and mentoring in sports including football, badminton and multi-sports, and gain a relevant qualification.
In turn, the development team will work with schools, colleges and universities to encourage participation in the sport.
The initiative will also develop handball in the community by working in partnership with Newcastle Vikings Handball Club, the region’s only club.
The European Handball Federation has funded the participation initiative, which is region-wide but with initial focus on Tyne and Wear.
Craig Robson, Sport Development Manager at TyneMet, said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity to work with England Handball to support the development of the sport in the North East.
“It is a great experience to work at a national level to create the next generation of players from primary, secondary and further education. This will hopefully lead to identifying talented players in the region.
“This is also a unique chance to support the development of a high-quality workforce to promote a positive environment for TyneMet’ learners and those in the North East keen to get involved in handball.
“Sports such as football and rugby have a wide audience, but handball is still very much at grassroots around its engagement levels.
“TyneMet had to tender to run the handball programme, and I’m delighted that we have been given this opportunity.
“Our aim is to grow handball beyond the grassroots level by creating opportunities for children and adults to get involved.”
TyneMet’s is seeking to grow participation among the region’s colleges by supporting learners who want to try a new sport and increase their activity levels.
The college also wants to support the development of 19 secondary school teams, and will host two festivals aimed at primary schools during December.
The festivals will encourage schools to come together to compete and develop opportunities to play the game.
Craig added: “TyneMet has some of the North East’s best sports learning facilities and the skills and experience to make this handball partnership a great success.
“We’re looking forward to this programme and to hitting our targets and developing this partnership further.
“It is my hope that in a few years’ time, handball will be better recognised as a sport within colleges and that we will have helped Newcastle Vikings to further develop.”
Stacey Andrews, England Handball national partnerships manager, also welcomed the initiative, saying: “It will enable us to provide some local support to the growing handball community in the North East.
“It is exciting to be working with such a forward-thinking college which has sport at its core.
“The college already has fantastic links with its local community through its sport provision, so it is great to be able to add handball to their menu of opportunities.
“This will provide more opportunities for people in the North East to discover and engage in handball regularly."
Schools wishing to participate in the programme should contact Graeme Ahmed, Sport Development Officer, on 0191 229 5242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TyneMet is also launching handball sessions for children, aged eight to 14, which take place at the college’s Coast Road campus, from 5pm to 6pm on Thursdays.
The first session is free, with prices then at £3 per session, or £15 for six sessions.