One year ago, the European Handball Federation started one of its biggest projects ever, announcing the Circle of a Handball Life. Starting almost from babies, this circle is divided into different age groups – and the handball-specific parts of each age. In a world of many different sports and free-time activities, how can handball attract kids? How can handball build the next generations of players and what does handball need to stand out from other activities?
After many EHF Activities webinars focusing on mini handball, kids handball and handball at school, the European Handball Federation now brings many stakeholders together for the first-ever EHF Grassroots Convention, which takes place on Sunday 14 January 2024 in Munich, on the fringes of the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 preliminary round.
More than 25 experts including the co-founder of ICOACHKIDS, Sergio Lara-Bercial, and director of the EOC EU Office, Folker Hellmund, dive deep into many topics which all focus on one aim; how to give children the opportunity to play handball, and to guide them on their first steps in their personal circle of a handball life. But is not only about best practices of training or playing, it is also about infrastructure such as playing halls, and psychological impacts like motivation.
The target group of the first-ever EHF Grassroots Convention are coaches, parents, teachers or members of clubs and federations. The most important objective is to support all the people involved and develop handball further so the kids can grow, have fun and bring the handball spirit into the world.
To attend the convention, register here until 30 November and save 10 EUR on your registration fee. Those registering before the end of November will pay only 39 EUR, instead of 49 EUR for those registering from 1 December onwards.
Two of the top lecturers from the handball world at the EHF Grassroots Convention are three-time EHF Champions League winner Carlos Prieto from Spain and Alex Gehrer, EHF Beach Handball expert from Germany. Prieto was a professional player in Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland and the USA – and for the past few years his focus has been on education as the founder of the Share & Play project.
Share & Play is a programme where social handball takes the centre stage. It is designed to be played in a more inclusive way, simplifying some of the rules of traditional handball, making it easier to learn and encouraging important parts of the game. “The programme has already worked with more than 1,000 young people who have boosted their physical and cognitive skills, as well as improving their social awareness. Maths, first aid and other subjects are also integrated into the various activities”, says Prieto, who underlines that “the project has been designed by professional athletes and sport sector experts and has an extensive handball community already.”
Prieto’s idea among everything is that “Kids need to know that beyond playing on the court, handball offers social skills for life like respect, team spirit and togetherness.” His presentation will include ideas on how to start playing handball at school, with simple games and training sessions, how to give the pupils a perspective in handball and how to learn playfully.
As Prieto is the expert for “handball on solid ground”, Alex Gehrer explains, how you can make beach handball become more attractive for young children – maybe even as the first step in handball. EHF Beach Handball Commission member and Gehrer’s colleague, Frowin Fasold – the girls’ national team coach for Germany – wrote the book Beach handball for beginners last year. In 2019, the duo produced a video for the EHF to show the framework for mini beach handball for children aged under 10, and Ultimate beach handball for players older than 10.
“We have changed some rules and the size of the balls to make beach handball easier to understand and to play and to reach a new target group,” says Gehrer. “It is all about simplifying beach handball.”
The size of the court and the goals is the same as for regular beach handball, to make use of existing infrastructure. “We want to show the perfect start for kids and beginners to get familiar with beach handball, and how to organise the game with kids and beginners,” says Gehrer.
How to reach even younger kids before they go to school is the subject for Vanessa Patucca-Bourgeais from the French Handball Federation, the EHF expert on kindergarten handball. Besides, various experts from leading national federations, as well as from other sports federations such as FIBA and UEFA, will present their best practice cases at the EHF Grassroots Convention.
Additionally, there will be an exhibition and networking area, where companies and organisations will present their products and services. Check out what Benz or the Handballcampus Munich have in store for the future. This area will be open during the whole event.
The one-day event takes place Sunday 14 January 2024, 09:00 – 16:00 CEST.