The first Midlands University Championships of the season were held at the Futsal Arena in Birmingham, and five teams from the university’s handball club competed across the weekend. Men’s and women’s teams were split into two seeded groups each and included two fresher teams getting their first taste of competitive handball.
In the Women’s 1st team a few injuries and absences meant that a couple of freshers were drafted into the side, but the girls played some quality handball to get two wins and a draw from their four games with Georgia Wells (centre) and Molly Clark (back) two standout players. Their most impressive result was an 18-6 win against Nottingham 2nds, and captain Eleanor Willey was delighted with the team’s performance across the board:
“The team played the best they have so far, and got the chance to showcase all their hard work from training! Winning both games on the Saturday was a huge achievement for us, and has made us feel really positive moving forward to the next stages of uni champs.”
The Women’s 2nds was entirely made up of players who have only been playing since the start of term, and they battled well in a very difficult group featuring all 1st teams apart from themselves and Loughborough 2nds. As the only fresher side in the group there was little by way of expectations on the team, and valuable experience for the squad was gained for future tournaments.
With four victories out of five, the Men’s 1sts had a very successful weekend, with a narrow defeat at the hands of Nottingham 1sts the only blemish. It was an unfortunate 13-9 loss against tricky opposition, and the boys will be keen to set the record straight at the next round of uni champs in February. All the squad played well, but there were impressive performances from Sören Küllmer (back), Mike Penkalla (pivot) and Miguel Neto (goalkeeper) in particular.
The Men’s 2nds and 3rds were put in tough groups against a lot of high-calibre teams and although neither side was able to get a win, they did themselves no disservice and played very competitively across the weekend. The 3rds were put in the same group as the Birmingham 1sts, and did well to score six goals in that fixture as a team of predominantly new handball players. Both teams will continue training hard and look to come back stronger at the next round of matches.
Overall, it was a good tournament experience for all teams, and whilst the Men’s and Women’s 1sts continue their seasons in the league, the university championships in February will be the next time all the teams from the club compete together. First team centre Matt O’Kelly, playing in his third year of uni champs, was pleased with what he saw from all the Lions teams throughout the tournament:
“It was a great weekend of handball with impressive performances coming in from people of all standards in every one of Birmingham’s teams.”
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