Olympics 'to spark Handball craze'

23 July 2012 / 18:32

Great Britain men's coach Dragan Djukic wants his team to help the British public catch the handball bug as they take part in their first ever Olympic Games over the next fortnight.

While the sport is among the most popular team sport played in Europe it has never been mainstream in the UK, but with participation figures on the rise since London was awarded the Games in 2005, Team GB are hoping to put their sport in the shop window.

They are not expected to advance past the preliminary stages of the competition, having only ever won one competitive match, but with games against reigning gold medallists France and reigning silver medallists Iceland to come, Djukic is looking beyond the Games.

"This is just the start of handball in the UK," Djukic told Press Association Sport.

"I'm completely sure everyone who will watch the handball in the next two weeks will realise how excellent it is, it's so close to the British mentality.

"It's a team sport which is very quick with lots of goals. We hope to show the British public how good it is and give the kids motivation to play and in a few years maybe we can become one of the big nations."

Djukic's side open their maiden Olympic campaign on Sunday against the French, who are widely acknowledged to be the best ever team, and the Serbian thinks GB should be looking at their opponents from across the English channel for tips on progressing in the game.

"My assistant Bill Baillie always repeats that 20 years ago France were nowhere in the world of handball but now they are four-time world champions," he added. "Why can't we do the same here?

"They have a lot of great individuals, who are products of the system, and we hope to do something similar. We want to build a young, strong team who go on after the Olympics and replicate what they did."