18th May 2018
Cambridge goalkeeper Graham Jack is a living, breathing example of legacy from London 2012.
Those memorable 17 days in the summer of 2012 were the start of a handball journey for Graham. Fate saw him attend handball matches at the iconic Copper Box in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. He was soon hooked on the sport and now plays in the Premier Handball League, the highest level in England.
Graham said: “I wasn’t really bothered about the Olympics when it was announced the UK would host it. Then as it happened and it started getting bigger and bigger, I thought I really should try to get tickets to something, and handball came up the night before the game itself. I managed to get the ticket via resale.
“It was such a great atmosphere [at the Olympic Games], a fast paced sport and a bit of contact which is always nice.”
Graham had always played football but was looking for another competitive sport to play. Handball seemed the perfect answer and he approached Cambridge Handball club.
Within a few years he was playing in goal for the Cambridge first team, and at the Copper Box where he had first watched the sport.
He said: “It was incredible. In the first season I played in what was the Super 8 [now the Premier Handball League].
“We ended up playing against London GD in the Copper Box. I was standing under the seat I’d been sitting in, and I was just thinking – that’s where I sat, and now I’m playing on this pitch, against the league leaders, in the first season I’ve played in goal properly, and – we won!
“The sense of sitting there and thinking – [if I’d] not been inspired by the Olympics, not going to those games – I would never have played this sport. I would never know what it was. At Cambridge we have a large group of people on the team who have been inspired by the Olympics.”
Graham says there is a real satisfaction to playing in goal, commenting: “It’s a very interesting experience. It’s nerve wracking and you see nasty injuries – you take a few things in the face – but in that moment you disconnect. You want to do absolutely everything in your power to stop that ball. It’s difficult to explain! It’s a very satisfying feeling.
“Handball has high scoring games, not like football where one or two goals count. So if you stop two or three of their attacks, you can start building the momentum and you can turn a game. You really can.”
Graham remembers the sliding doors moment back in 2012 in the Copper Box. “I was definitely at a stage where I was thinking: I’m not going to be playing any more sport, I can’t do football any more. And then to be inspired at the Olympics to go and start a brand new sport and still be going six years later really has changed my life. It is a huge part of my life now.”
Are you interested in joining Graham in playing this exciting, high scoring, action packed, fun team sport? If so contact Cambridge Handball club at firstname.lastname@example.org