11am Saturday morning, the Head coaches of Newquay Handball Club and Salford Handball Club left Ross Ellis at Truro Studio of BBC Cornwall. Each accompanied by one player of their Teams. Chris McDermott, member of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, for Team Salford and Geoff Muskett, President and Goalkeeper of Newquay Handball Club. A normal working day for Ross Ellis. But nothing was normal at this weekend.
Creativity, determination, courage and hard work formed a Handball Team out of a couple of people, who were inspired watching handball at the London 2012 Olympics. Nobody knew where the travel would lead them to, but there was definitely no plan playing against Olympians just 18 month later. The inspiration probably comes from Jürgen Koenen, German Head coach of the Team, but when understanding what this game really is about it was like a virus that infected the English players. Eddie Percy-Hughes, wing player of Newquay Handball Club expressed it like this: “First I stayed, because I didn’t want to disappoint Geoff. Then suddenly Jürgen came with the idea to play in the league and I was totally scared. But I stayed because I didn’t want to disappoint Jürgen. And now I just love it and nothing can make me leave again!” The first season was a great success, expressed in 2 wins, 1 draw and the awareness to be quite close to the other Teams.
In order to promote Handball in Cornwall and to support the ongoing progress, the idea was born, to invite Salford HC, one of the best Teams in the Country. Like Newquay Handball Club, the Salford squad are mainly British players. Such obvious similarities and a former friendly contact between Bill Baillie, Head coach of Salford HC and the national Team with Newquays German coach were the base for Salford to except Newquays invitation.
So on Saturday the 14th the Tennis Hall of the Dragon leisure centre in Bodmin was transformed in a Handball arena. This was only possible with the great support of the staff of the leisure centre and friends and families of the Newquay squad.
The game itself ended like to be expected in a 38 – 10 win for Salford. The speed and ball handling were just on another level. But Newquay showed that they were at the beginning of a process, that might lead them to a similar level one day. Especially the performances of the youngsters Ben Haddrell (18years) and Hauke Moll (16years) were noticed by Bill Baillie and Scott Harrington (National U20 Coach). Everybody in the Team made individual progress. The speed of Team Salford will be inspiration for the next season.
The relationship between the Teams was substantiated in a “rematch” at Newquays Porth Beach. A lot of fun with “Beach Handball” and the winner at least was Handball in Cornwall. The loss of England’s Football Team became a minor matter on that day.
Bill Baillie stated several times that it is a major concern for him to support clubs like Newquay Handball Club, even if this means a 7 hour ride by car.
So in advance he had offered a workshop for Sunday. This was mainly accepted by Newquay players. Although tired from the day before, the 90min session with the national coach, supported by the U20 coach and many players of Team Salford was another step forward. Surprisingly they found out, that they already work in a similar way, but especially the intensity was completely different.
Both Teams enjoyed this weekend so much that they planned to make a regular thing out of this. So no worries if you missed the opportunity to watch the fantastic sport live. There will be another chance next year.
Especially interested young players shouldn’t wait and get in touch with Jürgen Koenen (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is no need to have played before.
Just give it a try and use the next year to introduce yourself in one year time to the national top coaches.
The club is constantly growing, so if you are interested to get involved in any other way than just playing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.