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Undersized courts for exciting sports- KCL Handball wants to make a statement at their first ever varsity game

KCLHA after a dominating win against UCL

If you’re from the continent, it’s very likely that you know of what is arguably France, Germany, Spain and Denmark’s second-most popular sport: Handball. Strangely enough, despite a peak in popularity after the London olympics, the sport that attracted just over an accumulated 900,000 spectators for last month’s world cup is less popular on our side of the channel than schnapps, but KCL handball have been bucking the trend since 2013.

 

Led by club president Michal and team captain Anton, whom I both met to chat about the society, their 19-strong squad isn’t quite threadbare but it is quite thin. With only 4 players left from last season, the annual rebuild has become a habit for the KCLHA faithful, who usually have to make do with a mix of newcomers and continental foreign exchange students. However, this challenge brings with it a silver lining- squad diversity. With players from 13 different countries, Michal, who’s been playing handball for 12 years, feels that he’s learnt a significant amount about the game this year because of the wide variety of players.

 

This silver lining has also translated into results too: seven wins, one draw and no losses. Champions of their London league and into the next round of the nationals, Michal and Anton both admire how the mix of talented and inexperienced players has created a squad that has progressed constantly throughout the year, capable of competing at a very high level- something they can prove at the next round of nationals in Gillingham in late February. However, it is at that high level that you’re crashed back down to earth and forced to realise the issues that the sports unpopularity brings with it.

 

Every mention of the word “Gillingham” was met by sighs from Anton and Michal, who, despite winning four out of four last time out, have bad memories of the venue. An almost half-sized court, badly placed goals and chronically biased referees make for a dangerous venue, where Michal got a concussion after two shots straight to the head- something that could have been avoided were the goal placed at a less tight angle and had the referee sanctioned the opposite player for dangerous play. However, they both recognise the inevitability of the venue, as it is one of the few handball venues in the country.
Despite the team’s quarrels with the choice of venue, they will still have to play five tough games in one day to secure their spot in the finals. With only the nationals and varsity left, KCLHA are quietly confident and know that every game from now on is a final. Catch their varsity game at Barking Sporthouse and Gym on the 9th of March at 9am.

Collector of Tesco clubcard points.
Twitter.com/louisjacques_

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