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Youngsters from Newham Flames Handball Club got the opportunity to sample the increasingly popular sport in Hungary recently.

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The three-day trip to Veszprem came about after London & South East England Handball development officer Ari Bekker had discussions with Newham council about ways of involving youngsters in the sport after its success at the Olympics.

Hungarian-born Bekker, who has been playing and coaching in London for more than six years, recently took a group of boys from the Flames to experience some top-class club handball action in his homeland.

While there they also played friendly matches against the Veszprem under-16 A and B teams.

“I wanted to show the boys what it was like in a country where handball is very well known and to experience playing against one of the best teams in Europe,” said Bekker.

“The men’s team – MKB Veszprem – are one of the biggest teams in Europe.

“I was also keen to show the boys the atmosphere of a tense VELUX EHF Champions League game in Hungary, whose fans you cannot compare to any other crowd in handball.

“The non-stop noise and singing is just something the boys will always remember.

Bekker added: “Some of the boys had played before as under-16 England players at the prestigious Partille Cup in Sweden (the world’s biggest handball tournament), but for many it was their first experience of playing the sport.

“Watching the international star players live and up close in the flesh was truly an astonishing experience for the youngsters.

“We are so grateful to everyone who looked after us and made us feel so welcome – the boys learnt so much and enjoyed sampling the culture, cuisine and even tried the language.

“From a learning point-of-view it was fantastic.”

Such was the success of the trip, plans have already been put in place for a return visit in February.

 To find out more about playing handball in London and the South East, contact ari.bekker@englandhandball.com

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