The GB U19 men’s team returned from the NVB U19 Cup in Germany last weekend with a win over the hosts, but more importantly demonstrated clear performance improvements as the tournament progressed.
It was a tough weekend for the GB team with six matches in less than three days, as they took-on teams from two top-flight European clubs and the Belgian national team. The teams played each other twice in the round-robin tournament. It started well for GB with a narrow 20-19 win over hosts Nordhorn, but this was followed by a 20-33 defeat to Swiss side St Omar St Gallen, the eventual tournament winners, and 18-28 against Belgium.
On the second day GB were unable to repeat their opening win against Nordhorn, just losing 15-17. St Omer St Gallen then beat GB 24-12. On the third morning GB put-up a much improved performance against Belgium, narrowly losing 15-21.
With the busy match schedule, the primary objective was to rotate the squad, especially the newer members, and to find out about the players and give them as much experience as possible against well-established opposition.
GB U19 head coach Mark Hawkins was upbeat at the end of the tournament; “It was obviously satisfying to get the opening win against the hosts, but I am particularly pleased with the final performance against Belgium, which showed that the players were able to maintain a high intensity level even after six matches and improve their performance.”
He went on to add “This was a great opportunity to test some of the new players and see how the others had progressed and it is fair to say that the team has come a long way from when we started this programme just over a year ago”.
As an added bonus, GB right winger Jack Lees was named in the NVB Cup All Star team.
The team, which is supported by a grant from the IHF and IOC, will participate next year in the U20 European Championship.