5th February 2020
I was one of the first players to come through the (Development) AASE Performance Programme with England Handball and go on to play Handball professionally in Europe (Post Olympics).
When I was asked to write a blog it reminded me of when I was first asked to try handball in school eight years ago when I was 15 years old. I started the game at an age which is seen by many as too late. However, if you commit and have a passion for handball, or anything for that matter, you can achieve, I’m sure of that.
If I got a pound for every time I get the question “The handball player from England… are they even any good?” I’d be rich! However, I can sit here and say I’m proud of how much I have developed as a player. I’m indebted to my teacher Mr Baker, now a good friend, from The Bromfords School in Essex, who introduced me to handball. I’m also thankful to the support of the coaches at England Handball and British Handball who helped me develop as a player. They continue to support and motivate new generations of players back in England through the expanding network of coaches who are growing the sport and developing talent. Add to that the developments made over the years in school and university handball, and the strengthening of the English leagues – things are looking good.
So, a bit more about my time away as a handball player. Handball has given me many amazing experiences (and difficult ones) on court, and in life in general. It’s given me the opportunity to play handball at the highest level all over the world and meet some amazing people along the way. I have now played close to four years in Europe. I spent two seasons at AC Fafe playing in the Portuguese 1st division. It was a tough introduction to the world of professional handball, and a period that tested my mental strength, after I suffered ankle and knee ligament injuries. During those two years I spent most of my time working hard on my recovery.
I told myself I needed a fresh start away from Portugal after those difficulties and I’ve spent the last season-and- a-half playing for Vestas Balonmano Alarcos Ciudad Real in the Spanish 2nd league. It was a great experience, getting a taste of high-level handball so close to the 1st league, and working with good coaches and teammates. I had a great time in Spain as the team got to the play-offs for promotion to Asobal. However, half way through this season I had the opportunity to return to Portugal, which I accepted, and am starting this new year with Povoa Andebol Clube in the Portugese 2nd Division. It’s an exciting project and our goal is to go up to the 1st Division. So far we are on track. I’m excited for the remainder of the season and the challenge to get the club to the top league.
All-in-all I’ve had the pleasure of playing against very established teams and have gained valuable experience. This has helped me gain confidence to go on and help in my clubs, and at international level for Great Britain. Last summer the national team achieved the best post-Olympics finish for a GB Men’s programme, finishing in the Final4 of the IHF Emerging Nations. This was an amazing achievement for us, and all the players and staff can be proud of the progress we’ve made as a self-funded team. For me personally it meant a lot more. There’s been some tough times over the last three-to-four years, particularly getting over my injuries. However, moments like representing your country and helping make history, makes me proud and lets me know it was all worth it.