SPORTS participation figures in England were branded ‘disappointing’ by top officials last week – but handball is bucking the trend with participation increasing dramatically.
A Sport England survey highlighted that, while some sports have seen an increase in participation, many have seen a drop including swimming and tennis.
But figures from England Handball have shown a dramatic increase in the number of people playing handball, especially in key areas like schools and universities.
Three years ago around 10,500 children and young people were introduced to handball across England. Last year, that had grown to a massive 58,000 – almost a six-fold increase in three years.
England Handball was set a target by Sport England of getting 3,000 youngsters regularly taking part in handball by 2013. But latest figures show there are already 9,000, 18 months ahead of the deadline.
This year’s British Universities Handball Championship saw unprecedented numbers of participants, while the English National League and Development League continues to go from strength to strength with new teams joining each year.
But the biggest increase in participation has come in schools, thanks largely to England Handball’s programme which has seen dramatic expansion across the country with Development Officers doing great work.
England Handball succeeded in getting handball named as one of just seven sports which are being offered to schools as part of the Government’s Change 4 Life programme which provides equipment and training in one sport to every school – and 420 schools chose handball.
Across Europe, handball is the most popular female team sport and second most popular for men with only football attracting more participants.