Malta Handball Association launches new development programme
The Malta Handball Association (MHA) has launched a 'first of its kind' handball development programme, targeting 8 to 11-year-old children.
The programme which is financially supported by the European Handball Federation (EHF) through its SMART and ISP programmes aims at reducing the age-entry level of children into the game of handball.
The MHA is working closely with local clubs in identifying schools on the Mediterranean island willing to team up with local handball clubs to pursue such an objective.
The programme has been officially launched at the end of of February at St. Martin’s College.
Independent schools, Chiswick House School and St. Martin’s College, have teamed up with local handball club Kavallieri HC to pilot this project.
On the occasion of the launching, MHA President Louis Borg also presented a number of handballs to the school’s Director Bernie Mizzi.
Also present were Andrew Decelis, MHA Vice-President, Clyde Borg Conti, MHA CEO, and Julian Xuereb, the college’s pastoral care team co-ordinator.
The club has engaged local qualified coach Mr. Jermey Fenech to conduct handball sessions at the schools within schools hours.
Both schools will be Kavallieri’s nursery hub and the programme strives at providing the students with the basic fundamental skills of the game through fun games.
Thus, Kavallieri are widening their p base in the hope of attracting skilful athletes to their club to pursue the game further at competitive level.
Meanwhile the MHA is holding meetings with all local clubs to discuss similar programmes which will be tailor made to the individual club’s needs.
A key programme for the EHF is the SMART Project, which has seen the provision of technical expertise, materials and financial support over a three-year period, aimed in the main at youth handball, though projects such as beach handball and wheelchair handball have also been supported.
These three year programmes are designed to have specific objectives and target groups, to support the development of handball through courses, provision of handballs, goals and literature. Since its launch in 2001, 20 projects have been supported across 15 countries.
Capacity building through ISP
The most ambitious programme to date has been the Infrastructure Support Programme or ISP, which was introduced from mid-2010 and sees not only the provision of material support but also investment from the EHF in building capacity in member federations.
The basic idea is the part funding (together with national authorities) of salaries of full-time or part-time staff members, mainly development officers, hired by the national federation for the management of grassroots and development projects.
The project expands over a period of three years and has long-term aims, each programme is tailored to the particular needs and culture of the member federation.
Five ISP projects are now being supported by the EHF including Ireland and Scotland, the very first nations to sign up for the projects, as well as England, Malta and also Belgium, which began its programme in 2012.
TEXT: Malta Handball Association / ts