18th February 2019

Chair's Update

 Dear Members,   Welcome to the first update of board activity for 2019, I hope you enjoyed a happy and refreshing break.  

First, thank you to all clubs who supported the keenly contested January League and Cup Competitions. I was excited to hear of success for regional clubs against Premier League opposition, great sporting conduct and distinguished performances in the quarter finals of the Cup and Shield competitions. Respect, athleticism, skill, discipline and outstanding teamwork - qualities successful handball teams possess in abundance and demonstrate in dynamic, entertaining performances - were all on show in thrilling quarter final matches. Thank you for your passion, desire and commitment to handball which inspires our determination to help the sport succeed.  

Congratulations to Reading Lions, Northampton H.C., Essex Hurricanes, Guildford Sabres, Manchester H.C., Medway Falcons, Stroud H.C., Cambridge Wolverines, NEM Hawks, West London Eagles, Warrington Wolves and London GDII who progress to the semi-finals stage. Commiserations to the runners-up. Your enterprise, commitment, noteworthy conduct and quality performances in this and previous rounds helped produce nail-biting finishes, exciting matches, captivating entertainment and create interest in the sport. Twenty-one women’s teams and twenty-seven men’s teams entered the England Handball Cup competitions. Good luck to all clubs in the next round. I look forward to hearing more about the fortunes of the runners up in League competitions. Thank you all for supporting England Handball Cup and League competitions.  

Research of high-performing Boards reveals the distinction between higher and lower impact turns on the breadth of the issues directors tackle and on the time dedicated to them. Gratefully received open, honest comment in the Membership Satisfaction Survey, welcome detailed views expressed at roundtable discussions and valuable additional feedback to staff and directors has helped the Board build an informed picture of the range, depth and scope of issues to engage with. This presents a marvelous opportunity for the board to put their knowledge, skills and expertise to best use for the benefit of the membership and sport.    The board has taken time to know and understand the breadth of issues.

We are buoyed by the September staff and Board meeting, motivated by communications from members and enthusiastic for the value the short list of priority items can deliver in the short and long term for members. Since my last email to you Directors have begun mobilising the priority items of governance, membership engagement, safeguarding and data metrics to drive improvement for members, enhance strategy delivery and support growth towards handball being a safer, more sought after, thriving, successful sport.   

Directors gave generously of their time between board meetings to help develop a new safeguarding standard, and met with UK Coaching, visited club training sessions, attended tournaments, cup and league matches, assisted with regional academies - and a select few continue to help organise and run clubs. I attended a Sport England meeting for the Chairs of Governing Bodies of Sport where I met the Chairs of Wheelchair Rugby, Boccia, Angling, Bowls, Fencing, Shooting, Baseball & Softball and was pleased to receive information on leadership changes within sport, insight on future funding and have the opportunity to report on diversity.   

Developing the working of the Board, in addition to Director’s working with staff members a small number of Board members and the CEO met to review stakeholder engagement. Engagement with the membership, objectives for the sport and the role of the Board within the framework were identified as items for further consideration. The first Board meeting of the year on January 26th provided the opportunity for Directors to challenge themselves as a collective. Strategic discussions centred on safeguarding and the budget for 2019-20. The CEO’s report was scrutinised and items on data analytics, the online shop and policy review were brought forward. Here are highlights from the strategic discussions and CEO’s report:  


Extensive work was undertaken between board meetings by a board member and the CEO to produce a new detailed Safeguarding Standard which was scrutinised by Board members. Compliance, quality of documentation, consistency between policies, cross checking with operational practice, full reporting and collection of data all featured in rigorous examination of the proposed safeguarding standard. The Board asked questions on content compared to the Child Protection in Sport Unit standards and tested links to references in related England Handball policies. The new safeguarding standard was agreed and the board commissioned a project to define how this will be implemented.  

2019-20 Budget

A detailed review of the 2019-2020 budget proposal took place as directors looked to support the priority items and strategy delivery. Resource, process and performance, contingency and competing issues were discussed as directors asked probing questions. Timelines of the current cycle, membership feedback, goals and results were kept in mind during debate. The board requested the Audit and Governance Committee (a subset of Board members) to mobilise the Workforce/Education and Commercial Advisory Groups to advise the board on specific items identified, and a revised budget was requested. The Board also requested a discussion on the strategy for training courses to be held at the next Board meeting (March) to balance the options of face to face versus online, understand the costings, demand and requirement for coaching courses.  

CEO Report

Coaching & Workforce

  • Recruited six new tutors from the handball community who are active in January and February (1 in the NW, 1 in the NE, 2 in the Midlands and 2 in the SE & London)
  • A draft framework for refereeing has been created and this is being shared with EHRA for comments.


  • Four regional club meetings delivered, attended by 23 clubs. The meetings were well received by clubs who welcomed the opportunity to air their frustrations/ issues alongside discussing some potential solutions/ideas. Meeting notes have been shared with the clubs. A national-actions log document is being compiled and was shared with clubs early in January which will provide answers/updates on some of the points raised.
  • Shortlisted as NGB of the year (alongside British Cycling and Chance to Shine, cricket) at Youth Sport Trust National Summit in November. An SGO Handball project from Merseyside won Innovation of the Year award.


  • Under-14 ‘programme’ being explored to understand how can we offer talented Under-14s exposure to talent pathway and how these players might be identified through non-traditional means (non-trial).
  • Regional Academy Tournament took place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in mid-December with 50-plus players engaged in Level 1 refereeing & coaching programmes.

Marketing & Communications 

  • Brief put together for #ilovehandballfilm to help promote handball. A promotional film for the England Handball website and social media use. Clubs can also use it to promote the sport using Vox Pops from players about why they love the game.  Filming completed and editing underway – release date to be finalised.
  • Continuing discussions with BBC regarding live streaming of the 2019 National Cup Finals including confirming an acceptable level of advertising on the court.  

Competitions & Events 

  • Regional League meetings to be completed in February/March.
  • Separate youth league meetings took place via WebEx in January to look at competition structure options for 2019/20.
  • Proposal for a lower level of competition below regional league level being developed. To provide opportunities for club players who are not experiencing regular league competition and for emerging clubs to assist with transition into regional leagues.
  • 164 registered teams against an annual target of 131, 208 players in the talent pathway against a target of 204, 42% percent of players are female, 3% above target.  

I assure you of the Board’s commitment to openness, transparency, accountability and to helping players, referees, coaches and volunteers realise the full potential of Handball. Thank you to the CEO and staff team for their endeavour, diligence and progress in delivering the strategy. The minutes of the January board meeting provide a more detailed account of discussions and are available on the England Handball website. I look forward to hearing more of scintillating performances and to receiving further reports of outstanding sporting conduct and dynamic handball action. I thank you for your enthusiasm, support and dedication and invite you to send feedback to: feedback@englandhandball.com    

Thank you for your support.  

Tracy Watkinson & the Board of England Handball  

Posted in England Handball Association