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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Forming an important part of their preparations for the Olympic Games in London next year, the matches will give the team a stiff test as well as presenting the coaching team with chance to run the rule over their established stars as well as those pushing for a place in the squad.
GB are in Loughborough for the whole week on a training camp, while the matches against Turkey and Italy are lined up for the end of the week in the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall.
The first international match is on Thursday, March 10, with Italy and Turkey playing each other (7.30pm start), and the following day sees Great Britain play Italy, again starting at 7.30pm.
Great Britain will then play Turkey on Saturday, March 12, starting at 3pm.
Entry to all the games is just £2 on the door, while schools can get free entry by prior arrangement.
Great Britain will be aiming to build on their victory over Bulgaria in the Euro 2012 qualifiers last year (pictured) - their first competitive international victory - but will need to be on top form in Loughborough.
Italy only narrowly failed to qualify for the second stage of Euro 2012 on goal difference having beaten Georgia and Finland, while in the same competition Turkey notched up wins over Belgium and Luxembourg.
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Both men’s and women’s winners were crowned in championship and plate competitions at the University of Nottingham.
AECC Bournemouth won the men’s championship, while Cranfield won the respective women’s event. Manchester won the men’s plate event, while women’s plate winners were Edinburgh.
Bournemouth won the men’s championship in thrilling style, beating UCL (London) 11-10 after extra time and penalties.
Cranfield beat Loughborough 3-0 to secure the women’s championship, while the Men’s plate went to Manchester on goal difference. And Edinburgh overcame Manchester 5-2 to win the women’s plate.
The Most Valuable Player awards went to Isabella Markus from Edinburgh University, while Sindre Witzoe from AECC Bournemouth was the pick of the men.
British Handball scouts were in attendance and noted good performances from several individuals, while the GB men’s team captain Ciaran Williams was refereeing throughout the tournament.
Next year is Olympic year, and as such the British Universities Championship will be in London, where another record entry could well be on the cards.
McCafferty has lived apart from her husband for five years as she chases her dreams. But apart from the obvious benefit of being closer to her home in Cumbernauld, she is looking forward to the extra progress the team will make thanks to living and training together permanently in the run-up to the games.
“I have mixed feelings about Project Homecoming but mostly really happy and positive about the next step in our adventure,” she said of the move to Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, where GLL will help the players with top class training and work opportunities.
“Leaving Denmark will be sad as I have made some really good friends here. Although I have had highs and lows with the handball I know I will miss it very much.
“The experience I have gained while being here has been absolutely priceless and I can only look back in awe and be thankful about how lucky I have been. I have been training with some world class players and have learned so much just by being part of the same training session.”
Returning to the UK a year earlier than planned has come as a surprise and a bonus to all the members of the team who had moved overseas to chase their handball dream, but McCafferty perhaps left most behind.
“I can’t contain how ecstatic I am about coming home a year early! After five years of living away from home I can’t actually believe that I will only be a mere hour away from visiting my husband!
“But of course my happy feelings are not all personal!
“I am 100 per cent sure that the squad will improve leaps and bounds by being together more often. We are always playing much better together near the end of the training camps, and it seems like 10 days just isn’t enough.
“It’s great that we have all gained experience in different handball cultures, but now it is time to bring it together and make it work.
“We will also all be better supported in London by all the staff, such as our Strength and Conditioning coach. The things he implements on camps can now be done more often under expert supervision thus making us even fitter, stronger and faster.”
Aside from the difficulties of living in a different country, something else the players will not miss is the unfavourable exchange rate.
“Financially I will be in a better situation as well as the others,” said McCafferty. “We receive our support money in GB pounds, but spending it on Danish Kroner or Norwegian Kroner means it doesn’t go far at all after the exchange rate and bank charges.
“This is a massive positive for the players who have been financially struggling for such a long time. Of course we will now have the opposite situation for our foreign-based players, but I am sure with us living in London a year before the Olympics will be positive exposure for potential sponsors which will help us fund our living and training costs.”
And while many of the talented British players will want to continue playing handball overseas, McCafferty - who will be 33 when she plays at the Olympics - will be staying firmly at home in Scotland.
“After 2012 I am 100 per cent going back home! I have not lived together with my husband as man and wife and I am desperate to just be at home.
“I already have some plans in place with regards to handball, my career - and of course starting a family. I am also very excited to see what opportunities arise after the Olympics, that’s going to be really exciting!”
* After spells in Norway and Italy, Lynn McCafferty is back playing in Denmark for a second spell this season, where her club AGF Aarhus are currently ninth in the table.
“I have been getting some good experience here,” she said. “The coach uses me more in defence than attack which has been working well for the team and for me.
“Of course I would like to get more court time in attack, but the other playmaker does a really good job and I respect this and just make sure I do what I can when I do get the opportunity in attack.
“I have many positive things that I have gained from my time here and I look forward to using this in the future.”
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Around 30 teams from as far apart as Glasgow, Bournemouth, London, Edinburgh and Southampton will compete at the 2011 BUH Championships, demonstrating the continued growth of Handball as we look to the future beyond London 2012.
The winning BUH Championship teams will go forward to the EUSA European Universities Handball Championships in Rijeka, Croatia, later this year, representing another major step up for all our British University players.
Entry to the event is free for spectators and the standard of handball is bound to be high. And once you've seen the sport in action you'll also be chasing for London 2012 Handball tickets!
GB Men’s team captain Ciaran Williams will be in attendance and refereeing, while British Handball’s Performance Director Lorraine Brown and women’s team manager Mel Chowns will also be there scouting for future international talent.
More information on the 2011 British University Handball Championship is available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Split into the main championship and a plate competition, the men’s championship event has attracted three teams from Loughborough and two from Lincoln as well as others from Southampton, UC London, Cranfield, AECC Bournemouth and Bath.
In the women’s championship Loughborough field two teams and will take on Cranfield and Lincoln.
The plate competition has men’s and women’s teams from Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds Met, while the men’s plate has also attracted entries from Imperial (London), Warwick, Oxford and Bath. Southampton/Oxford field a joint team in the women’s plate event, as do Imperial/UCL (London).
Games will take place on both days at University Park in Nottingham and Sutton Bonington just outside the city, while the finals on Sunday are all at Sutton Bonington.
Matches are 15 minutes long, allowing for more than 70 throughout the weekend.