Primary school pupils across the Newmarket area are to receive handball lessons from one of Team GB’s key players at the London 2012 Olympics.
Starting tomorrow, and running for the next four Fridays, Louise Jukes will be on hand to pass on her knowledge of the game to pupils in Year 5 and 6 during an after-school club at Newmarket Leisure Centre.
Funding for the club, which is free of charge and will run between 4pm and 5pm, has come direct from primary schools in Newmarket, Moulton and Exning membership to the Forest Heath Sports Partnership.
“The whole idea of this is to educate the children about the sport and hopefully get them excited about it,” said Jukes. “For the age pupils it is being aimed at it is perfect as it incorporates everything they need to master like running, throwing, jumping hand to eye co-ordination and agility.
“In a typical game each teams scores about 30 goals, so hopefully it will catch their imagination and encourage them to keep active.”
While handball is still regarded a fringe sport within England compared to on the continent, the 30-year-old — who spent several seasons playing for Danish side SK Aarhus — claimed the sport is beginning to grow on English shores.
“Since the London Olympics the numbers wanting to get involved has gone through the roof and we are struggling to keep up with demand for it,” said Jukes. “Once people start playing, they start realising just how much fun the game actually is.
“Hopefully if it proves to be a success with the youngsters in Newmarket then we would look to potentially open it up to the wider community.”
Although two years have gone by since Jukes was playing in front of thousands of spectators at the 2012 Olympic Games, the memory is still vivid in her mind and is likely to be for the rest of her life.
“Playing at the Olympics was pretty amazing and sometimes I don’t realise that I actually did it, I have to look back at pictures to remind myself I was part of it,” she said. “To have crowds of 7,000 supporting us in each game was amazing as was being part of the Olympic village .”
One person who is looking forward to the start of the sessions is Ian Jackson, sports development manager for the Forest Heath Sports Partnership.
“I am really excited by the prospect of having an international athlete coaching pupils in Newmarket,” said Jackson. “Handballl is a sport that not too many people will be familiar with, and I am certain that Louise will inspire a lot of young people to get involved.”