22nd December 2021
As part of our new Performance Pathways series, we will be chatting to some of handball’s rising stars in England.
Here, England and Ikast Pivot Joe Trent tells all about the big move to a small town in central Denmark, his favourite thing about handball – and exciting ambitions for the future.
Name: Joe Trent
Club: Ikast (Denmark)
Place of Birth: Bournemouth
How did you get into handball?
I started playing about five years ago when I was 14. I got into the sport casually – I was learning and playing it for fun along with loads of others. I’m also a good cricketer and footballer, but I gave those up to focus everything on handball. Then, when I was 16, I got called up to the GB squad. Football is drilled into everyone’s heads. It’s a sport you play when you’re young, and everyone you know plays it. The reason I stopped was because it just wasn’t going anywhere. I needed some goal or ambition. I didn’t want to just play sport for fun. I did play county-level cricket, but I was just drawn to the uniqueness of handball and the fact no one had really heard of it. I saw it as a mix of everything I like and a sport that people don’t know of, so for me it’s really exciting.
Tell us about your handball journey - and how you got to where you are now?
Having played for Poole Phoenix while doing my A-Levels, last year, England Handball had contact with a club from Denmark. Me and two other English guys got invited to move out there to a sporting college. We were just told it was an elite place to play sport and it sounded like an amazing opportunity. I left England a year and six months ago and I’m still here in Ikast. I love it. I want to start a new life out here. I’ve enjoyed the whole process. It means playing handball six times a week - socialising, playing sports and having fun. It was a year’s placement, and after that year was finished, we took it into our own hands to stay in Denmark. We wanted to stay playing for the same club, so we had to find work and start buying food and fending for ourselves, so we’ve all got jobs. We are set to leave the club in the summer, when we’ll hopefully move to a bigger city in Denmark to play.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
It was when I went out to Sweden for my first big competition with GB U17s to play some major teams. Even though we lost, having your name called out and playing against top handball countries like Czech Republic or Sweden, especially as I was only 17 years old, was incredible.
What’s your favourite thing about handball?
There are a lot of rules that mean you are not allowed to shout at the referee. There’s that level of respect in handball, which differs to football where when you’re on the pitch, it’s just not there. Players would shout disgusting things at the ref, but the fans and players in our sport just aren’t like that. It’s so refreshing.
Who is your sporting icon?
It’s got to be [France and FC Barcelona pivot] Ludovic Fabregas. He plays my position, I like his playing style and what he brings to the game. He’s good at everything, is first choice at everything – plus he knows how to score, defend and run.
Describe handball in a sentence?
A mixture of basketball and football with some minor contact like rugby – a fast-paced game that is very physical and very different.
What’s your handball dream?
My dream is to play as far as I can professionally and get to highest level that I can. It’ll be a challenge. My ambition isn’t to be the best in the world - but to take it to the professional level if I can do – possibly playing in the top or second league where you can play professionally. The level in Denmark is so high. I really like the lifestyle here but also the level and quality is higher here than other nations. If you can get good here, you can get good anywhere.
What’s your best attribute?
It’s my mindset. Even though I’ve come to Denmark where the standard is so high, they’re nowhere near as driven as we are. They play it locally for their teams, but me and the other guys have moved country for the sport - and moved our lives and given up so much. It’s a big risk, and I think that commitment I’ve put in really has a positive impact on my game.
How has England Handball helped your career?
They have got me to where I am. I don’t have a clue how I would’ve come to Denmark without them. I would’ve been 18 just coming out of school. I may’ve felt like I wanted to play sport but had no idea. They gave me an opportunity. It was a bit of money for me to pay too in terms of travel and costs, but I didn’t want to go to university, I wanted to do something more than that. I received funding from England via the Performance Pathway to make it to Denmark. I’m very grateful to them.
What advice would you give to young people looking to take up handball?
Playing handball at any level is such a thrill and I’d recommend it to all young people into their sports. It’s just so unique and more enjoyable.For those who really want to play at the top level - if you have the mindset and you’re going to work hard and be the best you can, then it doesn’t matter how long you’ve played the sport – you can be successful. It will take perseverance, determination, and commitment, but you will get there.
To find out more about the England Handball Performance Pathway, click here.