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Date: 5/20/2017

The England Handball Association (EHA) recently helped to organise the British University Handball Championships at Medway Park, Gillingham in the south-east of England.
Originally organised by students and players themselves, the current championship format started back in 2012, after those involved were inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games. One player from thatGB Handball (BHA) team at the Olympic Games, Jonathan Pearce, was in attendance in Medway Park to help the event run smoothly.
Open to any university team from Great Britain – Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales – the 2017 championships featured representatives from all over the country, including Dundee University who made the longest journey down to Medway – 800km from north-east Scotland. Bangor University represented Wales, while England had numerous teams flying the flag.
University handball in Great Britain has many teams playing in university leagues and some also taking part in a variety of regional and developmental championships within England. Interest in handball within Great Britain has really soared after London 2012 with the university championship growing in size and professionalism over the years.
In 2012, 24 teams took part and for the 2017 edition, 74 teams entered the competition – a 300% increase. The tournament also represented an opportunity for newly-qualified referees and officials to take charge of their first competitive games.
The two-day tournament saw teams feature in 15-minutes matches on day one and 20-minute matches (2 x 10 minute halves) on finals day, over five different competitions – played over three courts in front of 100s of fans, making noise and creating a great atmosphere.
Two days of tough competition
On the first day, all teams started at the group stage and, according to their final group position, went through to either the elite competition – the Cup – or the secondary competitions of the ‘Plate’ and ‘Shield’ which were played in a knock-out format on the second day.  Both male and female teams played in the Cup and Plate competitions with an additional Shield competition for the men due to the greater number of teams.
Eventually, Bournemouth University took top honours in the women’s competition, beating the home side, University of Kent in the final, while Loughborough University beat University of Warwick to win the gold medal in the men’s competition.
“I believe the teams have really stepped up to the increased demands of the competition this year from the administration side,” said Alysha Martin, Competitions and Events Officer for England Handball at the event.
“We had four universities enter four teams each, so it’s really good to see the growth of second teams coming up and fantastic to see teams travelling from all over the country to take part.”
“We also had lots of new referees too which is amazing – there were some with considerable experience and those with less, so being able to partner these people up really helps develop the less experienced ones.”
For Bournemouth University’s winning playmaker Andrea Nordbø, the competition allows her to continue playing the sport she started as a 10-year-old in her home country of Norway. Now studying at the Anglo European Chiropractic College (AECC), part of Bournemouth University she, along with fellow Scandinavians studying there, are examples of the new generation of handball fans using their passion to inspire others in Great Britain.
“There are a large amount of Scandinavians at the AECC and this generally makes the interest in playing handball bigger as a lot of us have played it for a long time back home,” said Nordbø. “We are lucky enough to train with the local team in Bournemouth – Poole Phoenix as there are only about 10 of us at the university who play.
“It was very important we won gold this year after winning silver the past two years and the team felt prepared and ready to bring the gold down south. Kent was a very good team and I think we all enjoyed that game and the spirit of fair play was clear.
“I was very impressed by the tournament this year,” she continued. “There are more and more teams every year, I have really enjoyed playing these last four years and hope it will continue to grow.”
Luke Jennings, Club Chair of Loughborough Student's Handball Club, part of the University of Loughborough which recently announced as the world’s best sporting university has been involved with the club for four years and seen the championship grow each year.
“It has become an amazing event,” said Jennings. “It has grown in size and is a much more organised and enjoyable experience now.
“Having EHA staff run and organise the event, with EHA referees officiating matches adds to the professional feel of the event and it can only go from strength-to-strength – it has certainly put university handball on the map.
“Everyone is out to beat us now as we are representing the best sporting university in the world,” he continued. “This brings a pressure that other universities don’t experience, however, we thrive on this pressure and our desire to win and be the best is second to none; we train hard and play with pride for the Loughborough badge, so to finally win the competition after so long was an incredible feeling.
“It got tense towards the end but we used our experience to keep the upper hand over a very strong Warwick University side, who absolutely deserved the standing ovation we gave them at the presentation ceremony and we look forward to more tense matches like this.”
Women - Cup
1. Bournemouth University
2. University of Kent 1

Women  Plate
1. Imperial College - University of London
2. University of Chichester
Men  Cup
1. Loughborough University 1
2. University of Warwick
Men  Plate
1. Leeds Beckett University
2. Bournemouth University
Men  Shield
1. University of Dundee
2. University of Nottingham 2
For more information visit the England Handball Association website at www.englandhandball.com.