Editor-in-Chief Fintan Hogan takes a look at the achievements of KCL’s new Women’s Handball team after their first season and nomination in the 2023 KCLSU Awards.
“Handball is finally back at King’s and louder, stronger than ever!” declared KCL Women’s Handball (KCLWH) in August 2022. Even considering this optimistic tone, the success of the team in 2022/23 must have exceeded everyone’s expectations. The team have trained weekly since September and competed in regular friendly and competitive games against universities as far and wide as Kent, Bath and Imperial College London. Most players have been completely new to the sport and the team had to start from a basis of no infrastructure, coaches or playing corps.
Yet despite advertising for a goalkeeper as late as November, the team have been resoundingly successful this year. President and Founder Carmen Bergot remembers the real beginning: “Our second taster session stands out as a significant milestone for our team. It was a turning point because the majority of the girls who attended that session went on to join our team. Witnessing their enthusiasm and commitment was a moment that brought me great pride. Another memorable moment was our inaugural friendly game in January, where we won against Brunel University.” Carmen had been working hard for months to get KCLWH into a position to succeed, finding and organising a handball court, buying jerseys in Paris, contacting coach Anton Lammers and building a recruitment strategy for the team.
In March, KCLWH competed in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Handball Championship in Derby. This is a national higher education competition which featured universities including Edinburgh, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge. Despite their relative inexperience, KCL finished fourth overall in the National Shield Competition, beating holders Cambridge in the process. Carmen reflects that “considering that we had only played together for a few months, competing against experienced university teams was a daunting challenge. However, we overwhelmingly won three matches and only had two close defeats, one of them in a penalty shootout.”
At the end of the month, they also defeated UCL in the Varsity competition, winning the first competitive match between the universities in many years. Despite KCL’s defeat in the overall Varsity competition, the success of this brand-new team was a bright spark in the university’s performance. The women’s handball team are undefeated in all of their London derbies so far. “Ultimately, our society has been successful in bringing together a remarkable group of women who share a common passion for handball, even those who were only beginners back in September! The combination of our shared enthusiasm and unique backgrounds has created a vibrant and supportive community within our team, which has fuelled our motivation to continue building and strengthening our team”, said Carmen.
The incredible performance of the team has led to their nomination for ‘Best New Group’ in the 2023 KCLSU Awards. Beyond even their performance on the court, the non-competitive achievements of the group have contributed to their impact on the KCL community. Hosting a free session for Women’s History Month and promoting the importance of young women becoming involved in competitive sport has led to their social impact being as sizable as their sporting one. The team are proud of their social side and regularly promote their evening and weekend activities. Members even took part in the Great King’s Run and the 2023/24 committee are looking forward to starting new charitable enterprises. Carmen reported that “in our ongoing efforts to expand our impact beyond the sport itself, we have added a Volunteer Lead position to our committee. Ana Jacob will be taking on this role, and we are excited about the prospects of engaging in volunteering and fundraising activities moving forward… we hope to contribute to causes that align with our values and make a positive difference in the community!”
The team hopes to build on its all-round success in the 2023/24 academic year. Carmen hopes that their nomination for ‘Best New Group’ will act as a springboard for next year. “It is a validation of the hard work and dedication that our team has put into building and growing our organization. This recognition and appreciation serve as a tremendous source of motivation for us to continue our efforts and strive for further growth and progress! Moreover, the nomination will provide us with valuable visibility within the university community, potentially inspiring others to join and be part of the team, which is great.”
Team captain Dina Jordal hopes that their success off of the pitch will becomes success on it. “Next year, our team aims to build upon last year’s success and reach new heights. We’re determined to secure a spot in the trophy league of the BUCS championship, showcasing our dedication and skills. Additionally, we want to spread the joy of handball and discover hidden handball talents at KCL. Our focus is on achieving strong performances in the official league while nurturing a vibrant handball community.” KCLWH are always on the look-out for new members and ask prospective new teammates to reach out via Instagram or email. See more from KCL Women’s Handball during Roar’s upcoming coverage of the KCLSU Awards.