Although there has been a lot of media interest in the 6 British Boys, and I refer to them as boys, as they are some of the youngest players in the German Bundesliga, few know just how hard life has been for them since they moved to Essen in February. These boys have taken so many blows in the past few months - had their funding severely cut, lost their coaches and support structure, and told that they would not be able to stay at the academy in Denmark which has been home for the last 2 and a half years and must now find clubs who will provide for them in order to keep their dream of going to the London 2012 Olympics alive. If you had told any of them that they would be playing in the strongest handball league in the world in 2009, they would have laughed at you, and of course so would anyone who claims to know anything about handball. But that is exactly what they were offered in January this year and they accepted the challenge without a second thought, knowing full well that they were out of their depth and would be moving yet again to a country where the only language that they knew was the handball language. Well there are those who sniggered and those reporters who were economical with their words, because they did not know what these boys were capable of.
The boys have been totally committed to the club, and the fans have been very supportive of them, but the club management have been slow to acknowledge the real contribution the British players have made to the ailing club, which is very disappointing, given the tough conditions the boys have put up with and the fact that they will just be dropped at the end of the season having completed their task.
Just a few days ago they found out that none of them would be given a contract with the club next season, not from the coach or manager, but via a report posted on a German handball website. They never expected a contract, just the courtesy of being told before the rest of the world. But did it stop them from giving their best to the club a few days later? Hell no, they went out there and showed the doubters that they were as important to this club as any of the other players. I have to say I am still waiting to see the club's report on the match, but below is a posting on the England Handball Forum by Ciaran Williams, top scorer in Saturday's game against Melsungen, a team 7 places above Tusem Essen in the Bundesliga.Ciaran was responding to a posting by Paul McDermott which can be read on the England Handball Forum
"We went into the game with our first choice left back, and first choice playmaker missing through injury so we knew it would be a tough day at the office from the off.
Myself, Chris Mohr and Seb Prieto all started the game, as did Chris McDermott in defence, so the Brits were off to a good start. With a much smaller backcourt we knew making goals was going to be tough, but that didn't seem to effect us as we used our speed and fearlessness to create chances, with myself, Chris and Seb all getting on the scoresheet in the first half. We went into the changing rooms 18-11 down and knowing there was still a big uphill challenge ahead in the 2nd half.
There was a crowd of of 2,500 present for the game and around 20 loyal, travelling supporters from Essen, who were placed directly behind our bench in the 2nd half, so no matter what the outcome would be our supporters literally would be "behind us until the end".
We started the 2nd half as we ended the first, battling for every goal and in every defence. In our half time team talk we discussed how to free up our biggest goal scoring threat Patrik Hruscak, as he was being man-marked out of the game, but we would soon realise this played into our hands. I added a 2nd goal shortly into the 2nd half, and there were also goals from other positions, which forced Meslungen to re-shape, as they marked our left back position out too. For me this gave me my first real opportunity to show what i could do, and the chance to play with freedom, i did this and managed to score 5 goals, as Paul (McDermott) said, which was/is an amazing feeling. Chris Mohr added another goal, shortly before TuSEM Essen and "us Brits" made history yet again.
With 10mins left on the clock our coach made some changes to the team, and as Paul rightly said "To all those who sneered. To all those who laughed. To all those who mocked, and said we could never live at that level.
Eat your words." Because for 10mins today all 6 Brits stood togther on a Bundesliga court and not only played with the best, but matched them! We drew the 10mins 3-3, with Dan, Chris and Chris all scoring, and to have the other teams' players, fans and officials approach us after the game, shake hands and admit their surprise at our ability really shows what we have achieved here today. I can honestly say i have never felt such pride, happiness, achievement and motivation as i did today standng in defence and looking across the court and there in the Black of Essen were 5 other British players mixing it in the Bundesliga! Hopefully it will not be the last time, but we will definitely savour this very special moment which we have earnt with the countless hours of hard work and training, put in over the years.
We are travelling early tomorrow moning back to England for a National Team Camp in Liverpool and will return to Germany on Tuesday. Hopefully some of you will make the trip to Liverpool on Monday afternoon and see us play, because we all really do want to share this experience with those who are supporting us.
This has without doubt been a good day for me. . .
A good day for the Brits in Essen. . .
And a very good day for British Handball!"
Text: Paul Goodwin
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