Future of British Handball after Olympics looking bright as public interest increases


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The Independent Online

Chairman of British Handball John Brewer is revelling in the way handball has made an impact on the consciousness of the British public at the Olympic Games and has called on UK Sport to help them capitalise on it.

Britain is getting its first real taste of the sport, which is massive in continental Europe and Scandinavia, and the initial response has been largely positive.

Virtually all of the reviews from first-time spectators at the Copper Box and on television have been glowing and after both the men's and the women's sides performed credibly in their opening games, the support has gone viral.

"The huge interest that has been sparked in the media is phenomenal," Brewer told Press Association Sport. "We have been spoken about on breakfast TV, it's been mentioned on Twitter, everyone is talking about handball, asking why they hadn't heard about it and asking how they can play it and that is what we wanted to achieve.

"I was so proud to sit on the train listening to people talking about handball, for me it has sparked a huge interest it.

"Whenever there is an Olympics there is always a sport that captures the imagination that people weren't aware of and certainly at this moment that is handball and that's largely down to the performances in the Copper Box over the last 48 hours.

"The fear was that we would be playing in front of a half-empty stadium and nobody would take much notice. The real hope was that we would take part with real credibility in front of a packed house and get on TV and that is exactly what has happened."

While the two Great Britain sides were formed with the intention of competing at London 2012, progress has been such that the future of British Handball beyond the Games is looking extremely bright.

But for them to make the step up to the next level they need plenty of post-Olympics funding and Brewer is hoping the attention sparked by their displays in London gives the governing body a nudge.

"We have a four-year plan that takes us up to Rio 2016 and we are presenting that to UK Sport in October," he added. "What we really hope is that they look beyond medals.

"At the moment the funding is based on medals and medal-winning potential and I think that is a real shame if that continues after this Olympics because handball has come a long way to get here.

"If that funding is stopped it wastes the money that was invested and it fails to capitalise on the opportunity we have.

"We have had meetings with the president of the IHF, who is so excited with what he has seen and the interest in handball that the British public is showing that he has said to us, 'Tell us how we can help you'.

"We are really excited about that because we really do have a great story to tell. Having them helping us, I hope we can convince UK Sport that while we might not have medal-winning potential in Rio, what we do have is the potential to build on the success of this Games."