Brilliant training camp for England Handball youth squads as they eye the future!

Two cohorts of emerging talent of England Handball players had the chance to experience the highest level of Handball when they were invited out to Denmark for an inaugural training development camp. 

The camp took place over two weeks with the Elite Performance Academy out during the first week, and the Futures Programme attending during the second week. 

This was the first time the trip has taken place, and is now set to be a yearly occurrence as England Handball take steps to develop the game on home soil by exposing English players to the best of the best within the game. 

Liz Roberts, Talent Pathway Manager, was one of the coaches who oversaw the landmark Denmark trip, and reflected on a significant opportunity for young players: “It was phenomenal, I don’t think we could have given them more of an insight into what it would be like if they were to follow the same pathway. 

“It was exhausting! But worth every second.” 

During the first week, the England Handball Elite Performance Pathway, a programme that allows players to pair training with education at Loughborough College over a two-year cycle, were put through an intense three-day camp, completing training and playing three games during their time giving them the chance to experience life as a professional Handball player. 

João Castro, Lead Performance Coach, also travelled to Denmark and he explained: “It was the culmination of the two-year programme for our Elite Performance Academy, to go abroad as a team for the first time and play against some really strong Danish teams.  
“Denmark are a top country for Handball – to go and to play these games is huge for our academy. They got to play three matches and train with some of the best coaches in the sport, it was a really compact and intense three days.” 

Tabatha Ward, Elite Performance Academy Captain, said: “The whole of the EPA had an amazing time at ISI from the 8th – 11th February. Getting to play 3 matches against teams out in Denmark was a great way to see the progress we’ve made in the UK, but also to see how far we’ve got to go. On those days, we had also the opportunity to be coached by some of the Hojskole coaches, and that was incredibly valuable and taught us all a lot, even in a short amount of time.   

“EPA Boys and Girls Squads had the possibility to compete for the first time as teams, coached by the EPA staff, which was also a great moment that upskilled our performance. We’re very grateful for the experience and want to thank everyone at ISI for their hospitality.   

“We all left feeling very inspired and excited to return to EPA and continue working hard to grow and improve as players.” 

The England Handball Futures programme consists of the best and most exciting players in the country that are in the U-16 age group and below. The group headed out during the second week to experience what life as a professional player – a huge opportunity and fantastic success that gave the squad something to aspire towards and show what is needed to get to the highest level of the game. 

Zoran, GB M20s Head Coach, said: “It was an absolutely fantastic week in Denmark with lovely people, amazing kids involved in lots of handball and different kinds of activities! I was very much impressed with the progress that kids have made in such a short period of time and to see potential we have coming through younger age groups!  

“I believe if they continue using tools we have presented to them, it will be huge step towards them achieving they full potential not just on court but in life overall as well. 

“The future of handball on the pathway looks bright, and our rise will continue!  

It is a huge honour for me to be part of the important steps forward that handball in England is making.  

“Thank you to everyone who made this happen, and good luck to all the kids in the future!” 

Hannah and Ralf were two players who got to experience this first-of-its-kind trip. Reflecting on their experience, they praised the hosts for providing a unique development opportunity, Ralf said: “The time at Ikast gave me a small insight into what life could be like as a full-time athlete. The facilities were amazing and the input from the coaches all week was excellent. It was also great fun to spend so much time with the other members of the squad and start bonding as a team.” 

Hannah added: “During my time in Ikast, I developed my knowledge of handball majorly. It opened my eyes in all aspects of the game and truly brought us together as a team. I thoroughly enjoyed training at Ikast’s handball facilities and benefited from having some of the best coaches in the world there.” 

With plans to now do this trip every year, the future of Handball in England looks bright as our players get to experience the sport at a high level thanks to the work of the England Handball Performance Pathway.