22nd March 2018
The previous attempt to hold the event was a victim of the bad weather brought by the ‘Beast From the East’, so the 16 teams will be raring to go after an extra three weeks of preparation.
The top two teams from each region have qualified for the play-offs, with this being a stepping stone for the Under 16 final which will be held as part of England Handball National Finals weekend in Derby Arena on 5 and 6 May. They have been divided into two groups of boys and two groups of girls, and will play each other in a round robin group stage before group winners and runners-up will play off in two semi-finals.
The two boys and two girls teams left standing at the death will have to wait until May to decide who will be crowned National Under 16 champions, alongside the Under 19, National Shield and National Cup winners.
In the girls competition, Ealing, Essex, Guildford Sabres and London GD have qualified from the two South East Leagues. Olympia Cannock and Shropshire will be representing the North Group, with Poole Phoenix and Stroud completing the line-up from the South West. Stroud have had an eye-catching season so far, winning eleven out of twelve league matches with an impressive goal difference of an average eleven goals per game.
The opening match will pit Phoenix against Ealing in Group 1, followed by Stroud versus Essex in Group 2. The best junior handball talent from up and down the country will be on show in the inaugural year of this competition.
The boys competition sees a different set of clubs, with Stowmarket, Oly Cats, Islington and Guildford Sabres qualifying from the two South East Leagues. Deva and Shropshire came out of the North Group, and Somerset and Poole Phoenix represent the South West league.
Shropshire could be the name to watch on the boys side: the only team that is unbeaten in their league this season, with seven wins and three draws. The boys matches kick off with Somerset versus Stowmarket in Group 1, followed by Deva against Oly Cats from Group 2.
Throw-off for the first set of matches is at 10am, with the semi-finals scheduled for 16.15 and 17.00. Which four teams will go through to contest for the inaugural Under 16 National Handball Championship final?