24th June 2018
Shropshire Foundry Handball club was the biggest winner at the England Handball End of Season Awards, taking home the honours in three categories including Club of the Year.
Award winners were spread across seven clubs as England Handball recognised the best clubs, players, coaches and volunteers from the 2017/18 season.
Tracy Watkinson, Chair of England Handball, said “it’s great seeing the impact handball is having on clubs and communities around the country. These awards cover a diversity of clubs, regions, men, women and age groups – and so many fantastic clubs narrowly missed out on awards. It’s testament to the power of grassroots sport. Today’s awards have been energising!”
The standout male player of the season was Francisco Pereira from Nottingham Handball Club, taking home the honours in both the Senior and Under 19 categories.
Winner of Senior Female Player was Aniko Homonnai from London Angels and the best Under 19 Female Player was Alex Neilson from Stroud Handball Club.
With Alex Neilson picking up the junior female award it was no surprise that Stroud’s second award of the day went to Stroud’s head coach Matt Durber, an award that Durber described as “humbling.”
“You form such a close bond with players, it’s nice to have an impact on them and realise they appreciate the lessons you’re giving them. Next year we’d like to match the success of this year in the junior teams, and continue to grow our senior section.”
Shropshire’s Ilona Loewnau was the winner of the Female Senior Coach for the club’s second of three awards this year.
The Junior Coach category aims to recognise the best coaches aged under 25. The winners were Raeshan Downer from Shropshire, and Amy Hardwick from Peninsula.
Volunteer of the Year was Jamie Lau from Chelsea Handball Club. Afterwards Jamie paid tribute to his club. “I don’t do it to win this trophy. It’s not just me – in my club a lot of people give a lot of effort. It’s good for the club and everyone’s effort to be recognised. I’m so happy for handball, and for the club.”
With Shropshire taking home the Club of the Year, it was Reading Lions who picked up Coaching Culture of the Year, recognising their innovative and inclusive coaching at all levels.
The final award of the day was to Tom Middleton from Kent who took home the Mike Briers Trophy for his contribution to the development of handball in schools. Tom was quick to give credit to Kent County Sports Partnership, who funded him to develop handball in the county including beach handball. “They supported me to continue the momentum in primary and secondary schools with handball. I’m also trying to push beach handball down on the beach at Margate. Thanks to the County Sports Partnership for their ongoing support – and my very understanding wife!”
[Photo: Shropshire’s Ilona Loewnau from Shropshire Handball Club - winner of the Female Senior Coach - with Tracy Watkinson]