Great Britain Men’s handball team will take on Tunisia, South Korea and Argentina in the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
The event forms a crucial part of the GB side’s preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games, and has been made possible thanks to considerable backing from UK Sport.
British Handball recently welcomed Pinsent Masons on board as one of a raft of new sponsors which included Collins Stewart Wealth Management, bolstering support for handball from the City’s financial quarter.
One of the fastest growing sports in the country, handball is set to become one of the hits of this summer’s Olympics with participation levels in schools, universities and community groups exploding across Britain.
Trevor Watkins, head of sport at Pinsent Masons, comments: "The inaugural Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup is a great platform for us as a multinational law firm. It will enable our staff and clients to engage in our partnership with GB Handball through a prestigious international event. Bringing together leading teams in a pre-Olympics tournament is a great opportunity for us to extend our support for the sport and invest in its future."
UK Sport’s Head of Major Events, Esther Nicholls, said: “UK Sport is pleased to be supporting the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup, which will be a fantastic showcase for handball in the UK, and will provide valuable experience for both the athletes and their support staff ahead of our home Games in under six months time.
“In the lead up to London 2012, 41 of the 46 Olympic and Paralympic sports have secured backing from UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme to stage a major event, and handball will be the 41st of these, supporting our aspiration to ensure all sports are best prepared for the home staging of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
British Handball Chief Executive Paul Goodwin said: “We’re delighted to have Pinsent Masons on board, not just as title sponsor for the Pinsent Masons’ London Handball Cup, but also going forward to the future as we continue to promote the sport.
“The Olympics have given us a rare opportunity to introduce Britain to handball, a sport which is massively popular across the world because it is fun, fast and physical and can be played by people of all ages.
“We look forward to working with UK Sport’s events team, Pinsent Masons and all our sponsors as the British teams prepare for the London Olympics. But also we look to the future and hope that some of the youngsters now playing handball for the first time might also achieve their own Olympic Dreams in Rio 2016 and 2020.”
Having British teams competing in the Olympic handball competition for the first time has given the sport a huge boost at grassroots level across the country, with England Handball and Scottish Handball working tirelessly to introduce the sport to as many people as possible.
England Handball reports a major rise in the number of people being introduced to the sport in schools – last year, 58,000 children were introduced to the sport by England Handball, compared to 10,500 three years ago.
They were given a target of getting 3,000 youngsters regularly playing handball by 2013 – as of last year they had smashed that target and report that more than 9,000 have discovered just how much fun the sport is and play it regularly.