One of the newest kids on the handball block, Trafford Handball Club, finished their year as double finalists in the Under-14 National Finals. The boys team went one step further and lifted the trophy, while the girls had to be content with winning the third place play-off.
At Under-16 level, both teams made it to the Play-Offs where they lost out to more established clubs. But this year has had a transformational impact on all these young handballers.
Founded by former international player Stan Beliński, Trafford was only founded in May 2018 with support from England Handball’s Andy Clark, Regional Partners Manager for the North.
Under-14 boys captain Thomas Molliex says winning the title was “an amazing experience” and says the victory has to be seen in context of how much work the young players have put in.
“The emotions you can feel from the amazing experiences cannot be described in words. The confidence we as a team have gained has grown massively since the first time we played as a team and as individuals.
“But not only that, this year shows hard work can pay off. In one, fully committed year it shows how anything is possible. The hard work not only comes from us players but from the parents and coaches who make all this possible.
“Stan, our fantastic coach, created a team and in this first year as a team has made the team run more lengths and do more press-ups than you can count in a week; but hard work pays off.”
Says Under-14 girls captain Fran Waters, “Our U14 girl’s squad have only been training together since September last year so for us to be playing at such a high level is a huge achievement.
“We played some incredible games against some superb team across England. We were all very excited whilst watching the boys win national champions and it has only inspired us to do the same next year as we move up into U16’s.”
Both Under-16 teams competed in the National Play-Offs, where the girls just missed out on the National Finals. They celebrated their qualification for the event with a trip to KFC on the way home – a treat from coach Beliński. “We played some great teams from the North and South and the games were tough, which gave us a good challenge, so we gained a lot of experience to take home with us for our next season to improve.”
Finally, the Under-16 boys team were also able to reflect on what they’ve achieved in the sport in a remarkably short period of time. Boys captain Ilyan Marshall said the results have been a tribute to their coaches.
“In my mind we haven’t lost anything, we walked through those training doors in September naive and lacking in confidence, six months later we have made best friends for life, stayed at the top of the North West league, made it to playoffs to come 3rd in the country and become stronger people as a result.
“Our first and last season as U16s has been absolutely brilliant, all the hard work and hours put it by us player and coaches Stan and Aggy has truly paid off.”