Olympic star Mark Hawkins inspires young handball stars

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An Olympic handball star helped open a new junior handball team at The Eastbourne Sports Park.

Brighton University student Laurence Curtis has devoted his time and efforts into setting up the first youth side in the area.

The club will run coaching sessions every Saturday afternoon at the sports park.

Mark Hawkins - who played handball for Team GB at London 2012 - gave a speech and a coaching session to the new players last week.

Making my debut as a handball player I was shown how technically skilled one would need to be with their hands to compete with an Olympian. The ease of how he brushed past was embarrassing.

Mark made me look like his puppet aimlessly waving limbs around.

He spoke about his Olympic experience and how he hopes to help produce a new generation of British Handball players.

He said, “There was not a great deal going on around here before the Olympics for handball, but we can try and get as many people as possible playing it will be good.”

The team is currently searching for players aged between 12-18-years-old regardless of ability.

Laurence Curtis said, “We, as a club, just want to start a brand new handball team here in Eastbourne. It is possible but we need to get young people and their parents aware of the club.”

The session consisted of skill exercises with one-on-one coaching and training games playing against the Olympian.

I also learnt how you always need to be alert even when not playing, as I found out to my misfortune.

While trying to conduct an interview with the Olympian courtside I was unsighted and hit in the stomach by a loose ball. The simple lesson - keep your eye on the ball.

Laurence added, “The Olympics were great for handball because now loads of kids know about handball and are interested in the sport.”

“We hope to build off of the back of this and it helps so much with someone like Mark coming down.”

The Olympic handball player trained in Denmark with Team GB for the Olympics and is negotiating a new contract in Holland with a professional club.

His future ambitions are to come back to Britain and coach new players to raise the level of handball in this country to similar heights of other European powerhouses.

Mark said, “There are not many players in Britain and even fewer coaches. Coaching education is needed. The emphasis is now being switched from elite level to grassroots in this country.”

For the pair the momentum in handball is high and their aim is to use this to get the younger generation to play handball and bring life into the game.

The dream is that should the new club be successful, it will be places like Eastbourne where fresh young sport stars can be born.

In next week’s Herald, Haydn Cobb will be trying out rowing at Eastbourne Rowing Club - another sport that was hugely successful at the Olympics.