Breaking down barriers and creating friendships

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Handball, one of the main legacy sports from the London 2012 Olympics is gaining popularity in the Borough.

Following recently introduced practice sessions organised by Coleraine Borough Council’s Community Sports Programme in conjunction with the University of Ulster, it is already proving a major hit and increasing in popularity.

Alderman Maurice Bradley, who along with the Council’s Good Relations Officer Joy Wisener visited a training session in a University sports hall, is impressed with the pace at which the new sport here has caught the attention of local people.

“I was amazed at the skill and stamina required to play handball,” said the Coleraine Alderman. “It is a fast and action packed indoor game which is reckoned to be the second largest team sport played in Europe.”

The sport has been embraced at the University Campus through international students, foreign nationals living in the area, and locals from the Coleraine area, Maurice discovered.

“I’m delighted that Coleraine Borough Council’s Good Relations programme has given support,” he stressed. “It demonstrates clearly that sport is a fantastic way of encouraging integration and friendships. There is no language barrier that sport cannot overcome. I hope to see the sport grow throughout Coleraine. Furthermore I believe anyone watching these well organised and enjoyable sessions will get the urge to take part, I know I certainly did.”

A six week training programme at the University each Monday night has been drawing newcomers to the sport through the expertise of coaches Stephen McCartney and Tommy Van Wyk.

“Next on the agenda is a friendly match against Belfast after the Easter period,” Alderman Bradley confirmed. “This will be the first ever competitive handball game in the Borough, so I encourage all local sporting fans to get behind this new venture. We on Coleraine Borough Council are committed to the philosophy of sport for all and continuing on locally the spirit of London 2012 is one way of showing we mean business.”

For further information on taking part in Olympic Handball, contact Stephen McCartney, Coleraine Borough Council Community Sports Development Officer on 028 7034 7234 or by email: stephen.mccartney@colerainebc.gov.uk