Originally published by SportsByte on February 10th 2013.
University of Sunderland Handball captain Jack Woods thinks that the sport can grow in the North East following an exhibition day against a Newcastle side at CitySpace.
Sunderland lost 15-9 against a men’s side comprising of Newcastle Vikings and Gateshead, and then lost 11-9 to the Viking’s women’s side, but Woods said: “This, hopefully, is the springboard for more things to come.”
There hasn’t been a local league for Sunderland to join this year, meaning the team has been restricted to merely training sessions but there are high hopes for Handball, which has grown in popularity since the London 2012 Olympics.
As well as the two exhibition matches, there was also a ‘give it a go’ session where anyone could come on to the court and play the game as the University seeks to get more people involved in the sport.
Woods said: “Handball at the university is a really new thing. It’s a new club this year; I think we’re the newest sports society (at University of Sunderland).
“We’re trying to get a local league together, especially with the guys from Newcastle Vikings. They’ll be a league for us to play in and opportunities for people to play so it isn’t just training, it’ll be games as well.”
The Vikings were set up in September 2012 and, along with Gateshead and a university team from Newcastle, are keen to join a league and star player Charlie Goulty said that they wanted to capitalise on the popularity of Handball from London 2012..
Goulty said: “With the interest that’s been generated from the Olympics, that’s been the idea, to really try and promote the sport.
“The point of today was to really start the ball rolling in terms of competition, that was one of the main goals: to get a competitive league going in the North East.”
Sunderland were largely outclassed in the opening game although did get more into it as the tie wore on, and they matched the women’s team throughout the second game. They improved defensively as Woods’ organisational skills came into play, and they put together some fluent attacking play too.
Woods said of the performances: “I think we did really well. We played the girls in the second game but even the Vikings say that their girl’s team are their strongest team.
“I’m really quite proud of the guys. Two of them had never played handball before, and the rest of the team had only played two competitive games.
“It’s really good for the team, they’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been a real big morale boost that they’ve held the score quite low.”
The Handball team trains from 6-8pm every Sunday for men and women at CitySpace, and Woods added of the sport: “It’s a really good workout, it’s a very physical game, it’s really fast and it’s really fun to play.”