Hands up for a game of smash-hit Olympic sport
THERE is a new Swansea City in town — and they have already lined up a match against Cardiff.
Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, teacher Matthew Gilbert and his fiancee Laura Morris have set up a handball club in Swansea — and there has been no shortage of people wanting to try their hand a the sport.
More than 20 people turned up for the club's first training session, and their first game has already been arranged — a friendly match against Cardiff next month.
Thirty-year-old Matthew, from West Cross in Swansea, said: "It is really exciting that so many people turned up for our first session.
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"Most of them had seen some handball at the Olympics and read about the new Swansea club on Facebook and in the Evening Post.
"We had a mix of people — some already play football or netball, some came along for the fitness side of things.
"We had a quick getting-to-know you session, and then went through the basics of the game and the rules — they everyone got stuck in.
"There were a couple of bumps and bruises but everyone was very enthusiastic."
Handball involves two teams of seven players, playing in two fast-and -furious 30-minute halves.
Goalkeepers need lightning reactions while outfield players can expect a bit of rough and tumble.
Contact is only allowed when the defender is right in front of the attacker — any contact from the side or especially from behind is considered dangerous and usually penalised.
Matthew described the sport as having some of the skills of netball and an element of rugby. Swansea City Handball Club is now an affiliated club, has block-booked regular weekly training sessions at Penyrheol leisure centre and is looking to the future — as well as the capital friendly, it will be taking part in a tournament in Oxford.
Football-fan Matthew said: "As far as I am aware there are four clubs in Wales. In England they have a super-eight competition, and if we could get more Welsh teams we could have a similar tournament here.
"I want to promote the club in Swansea with a view to having not just an adult club but to get young people involved and inspire the next generation."
Handball is one of the most popular sports in Europe, and attracted a new audience in Britain after hitting TV screens during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Iceland coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson, whose side beat the TeamGB men's squad in the preliminary rounds of the event, said he thought the game could become a success here.
He said: "Handball should suit the British, they can fight and they are good at football and rugby. It can become a good sport for them."
Email the club at swanseacity firstname.lastname@example.org