June 18 - Plans to boost the popularity of handball on the back of the 2012 Olympics have received a boost this week when the International and European Handball Federations agreed to participate on a working group.
Handball is one of the most popular sports in many countries across the world, and the International Federation (IHF) and European Federation (EHF) see establishing the sport in Britain as a major target.
As a result, a working group has been established which includes representatives from the IHF, the EHF and the Home Nation associations of England and Scotland as well as Alex Gavrilovic, the Handball competition manager for the London 2012 games and former President of the Australian Handball Federation.
The establishment of the working group at the IHF Congress in Egypt, came on the back of earlier talks in Croatia and Switzerland with top-level IHF and EHF officials.
Paul Goodwin, the chief executive of British Handball who brought the group together, said: "To have the support of the International Federation and the strongest Continental Handball Federation is extremely important for us.
"For too long handball has fought a battle for recognition in Britain, but now the London Olympic Games has provided a catalyst for change. I feel sure that handball will not look back now and 2012 is just the beginning.
"We will learn from Sydney and Athens and build on their experiences, after which people in Britain will understand why handball is one of the top sports in Europe."
The group – which will also benefit from the vastly-experienced French Handball Federation - will firstly conduct a needs analysis which will be closely followed by an action plan with all parties fully understanding the urgency and importance to the sport.
Initial priority areas of assistance that were discussed at the meeting were the identification and training of British officials for the Games, broadcasting of the sport on free to view television, access to top level competition for the Great Britain teams in the lead up to 2012, preparation of the home nations for a huge increase in interest following the Games, and how to ensure that Britain continues to compete at International level post 2012.