22nd July 2019
Networking and learning were the outcomes for Peninsula Handball Club’s Amy Hardwick after her trip to Hungary for a European Handball Federation (EHF) young coaches workshop.
Hardwick, England Handball Young Coach of the Year in 2018, was the English representative at the workshop, gathering 15 young coaches from across Europe in the Hungarian town of Siofok. One of two coaches at Peninsula, Hardwick was approached and asked if she would like to attend, motivated to do so after seeing the conference advertised and realising there was no English attendee.
She felt she couldn't pass up the opportunity and was supported in her application by British Handball coach Bill Baillie and NEM Hawks stalwart Sue Whitehead. “I was apprehensive at first, it was out of my comfort zone and I was nervous. But I decided it would be a really good opportunity, because only one coach from each nation gets to go each year, and next year lots of English coaches might have wanted to go. So it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t really say no.”
Hardwick wanted to challenge herself and develop her coaching, and also to learn about handball in mainland Europe where it is a far bigger sport. She laughs that other coaches were unaware of the growing strength of handball in England. “A few of them didn’t think we played at all!”
It was an opportunity to network with other coaches, and also to get direct feedback after running a number of coaching sessions. This was a challenge because the youth team that acted as Guinea pigs for the attendees to coach didn’t speak English. But this enabled the development of a different kind of communication.
“They had one girl on the team who would translate everything for them; but part of the challenge of coaching is being able to communicate with people in different ways. Although [in the UK] everyone I coach can speak English, they don’t necessarily all understand things in the same way. So using different methods of communicating and explaining things, for example, using boards to draw things on, or take them to different places on the court to physically show them things, was important.”
Spending time with other coaches was a chance to share ideas, and Hardwick paid tribute to the high quality staff running the course. “Peter Kovacs was on the staff running the course, who is one of the greatest handball players of all time.
“Every day we’d have theory sessions in a classroom then we’d go down and have practical sessions. Each person had to coach two sessions during the course, and even just observing the sessions other coaches were leading, and being able to sit on the side, and talk with all the other coaches – that was really useful.
“I had a brilliant time in Siόfok at the Young Coaches Workshop. It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the world of handball for five days. The staff running the workshop are a valuable resource and they are more than happy to share their knowledge with you and answer questions. Not only this, but being surrounded by coaches from many different nations and learning what handball is like in each of their countries was a very interesting and eye-opening experience."
Amy was grateful for the opportunity. “I had a very fruitful five days in Siόfok and I hope that I can put some of what I learnt throughout the workshop into practice at my club. Thanks to those who presented me with the opportunity to go and I do hope more young coaches from England can attend future workshops and take from it as much as I did.”