A View Behind-The-Scenes

Whenever you embark on a new chapter in your life, it’s inevitable that you start thinking a bit ahead of yourself. I’m absolutely terrible at this in all aspects of my life, and so it has proved setting up Coventry Handball Club. We haven’t even hosted our first session yet (REMINDER: it’s Thursday 6th September, 20:30-21:30 at Coventry Sports Centre, Courts 1-4), but I’ve regularly found myself thinking way beyond that. Some of the things I’ve been thinking about have been important issues, such as at what point in the club’s development would it be appropriate to expand into running junior teams? But inevitably my mind starts to wander into more trivial areas. Yesterday I was ordering some Handballs (a rather important purchase) and found myself straying towards the kits, imagining what our kit could look like. The day before I started wondering what our entrance music should be.

Whilst being distracted from the job in hand isn’t usually to be recommended, there is an upside to this. One of my main goals when setting up the club was simply to organise a regular opportunity for me to play Handball with others. New Handball clubs are springing up all over the country, and I’m sure most of their founders will have had exactly the same motivation. That’s how I want to be spending my free time. Spending my evenings sending out emails corresponding with people like local sports centres was less high on my agenda. Unfortunately though many of the behind-the-scenes tasks are vitally important if a club is to move forward. It’s time-consuming work, but it becomes a lot easier when it’s related to a goal that you’re enthusiastic about. In these moments, allowing yourself to dream about things a long way down the line is actually a good motivating tool to put in the hard yards now. I suppose it’s like an Olympic athlete starting their training cycle for the next Olympics – some of the things you’ll do won’t be fun, but if you keep that goal in your mind then it helps you put in the work that needs to be done in the short-term.

On days like today, things like that come in handy. Things nearly went very well, but in the end things were slightly frustrating. The primary task for today was one of those tasks that is necessary but boring when setting up a new club – opening a club bank account. We’ll be paying monthly for our sports hall hire, and if we haven’t paid, we don’t play, so an organised banking system is necessary. So, our treasurer Paul and myself went to set an account up. Once we had found the right person, we got the forms that we needed (well, most of them – we had to go back because one of them was missing), and headed off to the nearby library to fill them out. We had all of the relevant information available, and all of our necessary proofs of ID/address too. We could have opened the account there and then were it not for one small section which we need our Club Secretary Duane to sign. Having been so close to getting everything set-up, I’m now going to have to make two additional journeys before it’s sorted. It’s far from a disaster, but I’d far rather be spending that time doing something else.

But then on the way home I walked through Broadgate, which for those of you unfamiliar with Coventry is an area in the city centre which has recently been turned back into a fully pedestrianised zone. This makes the area far more suitable for hosting outdoor events, and this week they’ve got a roller disco. It seemed like a lot of fun, and certainly was bringing the crowds in. It led Paul and myself to discuss how great it could be if at some stage in the future we could hold a street Handball event there, possibly on an inflatable pitch. The frustrations of the bank were quickly forgotten as the excitement of the future prospects of the club once again took over. So, my advice for anyone out there also going through the various demands of setting up a new club is that when you find yourself frustrated our bored by some of the behind-the-scenes tasks, take a moment to daydream and remember the exciting goals and moments that lie ahead.

By Colin Littlewood, Chair of Coventry Handball Club.

First Training Session Details

Coventry Handball Club is excited to announce that our first training session has now been confirmed. It will be on Thursday 6th September, 8:30 until 9:30 at Coventry Sports Centre, Courts 1-4. We will then have a session every Thursday at the same time and location. If there is enough demand we will look to have longer/more sessions during the week, but for the first few weeks it will be just the one hourly session per week. As we’ve mentioned before, no experience is necessary and people of all abilities are welcome, although initially it will be 18+ only (though we would like to be able to put on junior handball groups further down the line).

In terms of kit, Warwick University Handball Club have very kindly allowed us to use their goals, and we will provide balls, and the beauty of Handball is that you don’t really need anything more than that. Having said that, I would ask that everyone who attends brings both a blue top and a non-blue top to make things easier when we are trying to get a decent game going.

In terms of the cost of the session, we are yet to decide on the price. Obviously the hall has to be paid for, but we don’t want the price to be something that puts people off attending. The hope is that numbers will be high enough that each person doesn’t have to pay very much each week to play, but until we have a clearer idea of numbers we can’t go anymore specific than that.

However, bringing money with you will be essential as the plan is to go for a couple of drinks in one of Coventry’s many fine licensed establishments (ahem) after the session, and we would like to see as many of you come along afterwards.

Other than that, all that remains to be said is spread the word and we look forward to seeing you on the 6th. If you’d like any further details, or would like to help out with the club in any way, contact us via coventryhandball@gmail.com .

By Colin Littlewood, Chair of Coventry Handball Club.

First Meeting Summary

So, we had our first meeting last night, and the club finally has started to feel like a club rather than a solo crusade. From my perspective, the most encouraging aspect of last night was that we were all on the same page in terms of what we want this club to be. We want this to be a highly inclusive club that is open to people of all abilities, not just in the short-term but hopefully for many years to come. We want beginners to feel like they can come along, have fun from the very first session and develop as far as they want to. Long-term we would be keen to have junior teams and 2nds teams, but in the short-term we want to be able to field both men’s and women’s teams to get a taste of competitive handball action. When that time comes, we’ll be giving 100% to win, but this will be a club where the social aspect is given just as much thought as the playing aspect. After all, if we can establish a club that is a fun place to be, more people will want to get involved, and with the greater playing resources the competitive side of the game will progress quite naturally.

 

Decisions were made in terms of venue, times, kit and equipment, but we’ll detail those in a separate post once the bookings have been confirmed. We’re hopefully of being in a position to host our first session within two weeks. We also assigned three major club roles. Paul Cross will be the Club Treasurer, Duane Harwood will be the Club Secretary, whilst your’s truly will be the first Chair. But we’ve still got a number of key roles still to fill, so if you’d like to get involved in the club, roles like Team Captains and Social Secretary will be assigned at a later date. One of the other key positions we’ll be looking to fill is that of Coach. If we can find somebody within the group with the relevant coaching qualifications, that would be ideal, but if not we have a number of other avenues that we are prepared to explore.

 

So, with all of the major points covered last night, now the hard work starts – spreading the word as far as we can, doing whatever we can to drum up extra interest in the club and getting as many people as possible to have a go at Handball. Expect to see a lot more of us soon.

 

Colin Littlewood – Chair of Coventry Handball Club.

First Meeting

So, it’s roughly 24 hours since I put my idea of setting up a Handball club in Coventry into the public domain, and the response so far is encouraging. I’ve had plenty of messages of support from people within the Handball community, and also a fair amount of interest considering how little has been done so far in terms of getting the message out there. Certainly enough interest to suggest that with a bit of hard work in spreading the message further, this could become a successful club, from a participation sense at the very least.

 

But whilst the interest in the idea of a Handball club is warmly received, I’m keenly aware of what will help get people involved, and subsequently keep them involved, is actually getting out there and playing. It would be great to get some kind of session going as soon as possible, whilst the Olympic buzz is still going strong.

 

With that in mind, I think it’s time to hold a meeting between everyone whose interested in getting involved. Whilst I’m pretty flexible about when that should be, I’m cautious that if you give people unlimited choice in these things, you get a different response from every person. So, I’m suggesting that the first meeting takes place next Wednesday (22nd August), at around 7.30 at the Spongate Wetherspoons (Skydome). All of these details are subject to change if that proves to be a really bad time/venue for everyone (check the Facebook page for any updates/changes www.facebook.com/CoventryHandball) but if that works for everyone I look forward to seeing you there.

 

It would be great to have the input of as many people as possible. If you’re interested in helping to set-up the club, then I want to hear from you so we can discuss ideas. And if you only want to play, then still come along, as we want to find a training venue/time slot that works for as many people as possible. And it would also be great just to meet each of you in person – after all, clubs like this become successful for the social aspect as much as the sport aspect, and making the club a fun place to be will be a key factor going forward. So, with that all said, hope to see lots of you next Wednesday.

Welcome to Coventry Handball Club

So, today I founded a club. Well, I’m not sure that it technically counts as a club whilst there is only one member, but hopefully that state of affairs won’t last long. Hopefully the 15th August 2013 will be an anniversary worth celebrating.

My story with Handball is a fairly brief one. We played a version of Handball at school quite regularly, but we never had a proper team, so I never got the opportunity to play in any proper matches. Therefore when I left school Handball basically slipped out of my consciousness for a while – I was always aware of its existence, but it was something I spent a lot of time thinking about.

Then London 2012 happened. Despite the wealth of sport that was on show, it was Handball that made the biggest impression on me. I’m arguably too old, too slow, too short and too clumsy to reach a high standard in the sport now, but one of the great things about Handball is that those things don’t matter. You can play the sport extremely competitively, or you can play it recreationally. For me, the sport has a lot of the same factors going for it that make 5-a-side football a great success. Being an indoor sport, you can play it after work throughout the entire year, you don’t need too much equipment and you don’t need too many other people to have a game. Even if I might never reach a high level in the sport, it was still a sport I wanted to play.

Then came the obstacle. Coventry only has one Handball club, and that is the University of Warwick Handball Club. Since I’m not a student there, I can’t play for them. There are a few clubs elsewhere in the Midlands, but since I don’t drive getting there and back would be a bit problematic. Now, a few months ago I might have seen this as an insurmountable obstacle and looked at other sports to get involved with, but that was before I’d had the opportunity to work at London 2012. I had a brilliant four weeks, and totally support the ‘Inspire a Generation’ message. After I finished I decided it was time to start giving back to the community through sport, especially as I benefitted from the opportunity to play a variety of sports growing up thanks to the voluntary work of others.

Thus, two things came together as perfect as fish and chips. The lack of a Handball club in Coventry was actually a great opportunity. The opportunity to put the skills I’ve learned (I have an MSc in Sport Management from Loughborough University) to good use in the community by hopefully making Handball accessible to the 300,000 residents of Coventry.

So, that’s how I’ve gotten to this point. Now it’s time to set the wheels in motion and move towards a club that people would recognise as a club. I’ve set up this blog to keep people informed, along with a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CoventryHandball) and a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/CovHandball). I’ve also registered a new email address (coventryhandball@gmail.com) to deal with any enquiries related to the club. I got ideas about potential venues, and a couple of contacts I could utilise in order to get some coaching sorted out. That though seems a long way off at the moment. For the time being, my task is to try to find a nucleus of fellow Coventrians who want to get involved in Handball around whom we could build a club. Which is going to take a little bit of time, but I’m convinced that because Handball is such a great sport, if I put the word out there enough the enquiries will start rolling in soon enough. I’ll let you know how I get on in the coming weeks and months.