My name is Andrea and I am the current NTU Handball President. I have been playing handball for about 15 years now. When I joined NTU I knew that there wasn’t a handball club, and therefore, I joined a local club. However, I felt like I was missing out on the whole ‘student sport experience’ as part of my university life, and was eager to set up my own club after talking to our current Secretary who felt the same way.
At the end of my first year I got in touch with the sports department who were super supportive about my idea, and we managed to make handball a part of the NTU Play for Fun programme for 2015/16. We attended the Freshers’ Fairs in September and had about 25 students turning up to our very first handball session! Battling with the unfortunate training slot of 7-8 PM on a Wednesday night we kept going with about 8-15 players per session over the year. A couple of friendly games against UoN Handball kept the competitiveness and ambition to improve alive in everyone that kept coming to our sessions.
Due to the consistent interest in our sessions we were voted in to be an official sports club for the new academic year! Our first couple of taster sessions saw about 80 students overall! It was an overwhelming feeling to see the interest increase by such a huge amount, and with many people still not knowing about handball, it was great to see students specifically looking for us at the Freshers’ Fairs.
We currently have a men’s and women’s team who train together on a Tuesday night. With about 20-25 regular members, and more students enjoying our Play for Fun sessions on a Wednesday evening (…yes, we still go to Ocean every other week!), handball has clearly expanded its popularity.
With a group of experienced players, and many beginners, we competed in our first ever tournament, mainly aimed at beginner teams, at Liverpool John Moores University in November. The girls came 3rd and the boys made it to the quarter finals! Since then we have competed in a few friendly games and tournaments against second teams of other universities, such as Loughborough, Birmingham and Warwick.
Our major competition so far has been the British University Handball Championship, which took place in February and March. Both teams succeeded in the regional qualifiers to place second in their groups and qualified for the top 16 teams for the nationals!
Last weekend saw us competing at the national round in Gillingham, which was a massive success overall. Considering it is our first year as a sports club, our boys kept their heads up high with unfortunate losses against previous winners, such as Cambridge, Cranfield and Warwick. Our girls’ team impressed everyone at the competition by making it into the semi-finals where we only lost in the penalty shootout against Kent University! (Top 4 within Great Britain in the first year of being a club surely must be some sort of new record?)
And if this wasn’t exciting enough already, on 29th March, we will compete in the first ever Nottingham Handball Varsity as part of Super Wednesday!
What would I like to say to students that are thinking of starting their own sports club?
Do it! If you are passionate about your sport and willing to take the extra step, the extra responsibility, the extra bit of panic when organising your first trip, then you’ve got nothing to lose! The sports department at NTU has been very supportive throughout this whole process and there is literally no question that is too stupid to ask. I personally had never coached any sessions before, and now I do it on a regular basis to encourage beginners to take part in a new and exciting sport.
Yes, it has been additional work on top of my degree, but it has been absolutely worth it!
For more information about the handball club, visit: https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/sport/sports_clubs/clubs/sports_club_directory/index.html