James sets sights on place in handball’s ‘World Cup’

Handball coach Sarah Carrick and Handball Scotland chief Executive Stephen Neilson with pupils at Kelvinside Academy.
Handball coach Sarah Carrick and Handball Scotland chief Executive Stephen Neilson with pupils at Kelvinside Academy.

A Bearsden youngster has set his sights on taking part in the world’s biggest handball tournament next year.

James Kemp is a pupil at Kelvinside Academy where a programme to encourage participation in the sport has paid spectacular dividends since it was set up four years ago in the wake of the London Olympics.

The initiative has brought 13 national titles and seen 15 pupils capped by Scotland.

And James has been a key element of that success.

He was Kelvinside’s top goal scorer and player of the year in 2015 and earned a well deserved selection for the Scotland under-15 squad who are about to start training at the Oriam, Scotland’s sports performance centre in Edinburgh.

They have their sights set on travelling next summer to the Partille Cup, a competition held annually in Sweden and regarded as the ‘World Cup’ of handball.

Interest in the sport at the school was sparked by an Olympic trip to London four years ago.

And it has now developed to such an extent that GB international player and coach Sarah Carrick has been appointed to a coaching position at the school to help further the successful programme.

As one of the first duties in her new post, Sarah took pupils to the home of Scottish handball this week and led them through a performance training session at Oriam, Scotland’s sports performance centre.

Teacher Fiona Kennedy explained: “We were all caught up in the emotion of the Olympics and were enthralled with the sport.

“I thought the pupils would quickly move on to something else! However, it has had massive staying power. Interest has spread and we now have more than 100 pupils taking part in handball sessions every week.

“As a GB international, Sarah has been to the very top of the game. Together we’ll hopefully convince even more pupils to discover the excitement and team spirit evoked playing handball.”

Having coached Scotland U16 and U17s, Sarah, who also coaches at GB U17 level, is familiar with a lot of the talent at the school.

She said: “The enthusiasm of pupils and teachers has been essential to the growth of handball. From the moment you walk into Kelvinside Academy you see that the sport is on equal footing with other, more traditional, sports.

“The enthusiasm from pupils is infectious and it has spread like wildfire through the school. It’s incredibly encouraging for the future of the sport.

“This is what the Olympics and Commonwealth Games are really all about; inspiring a passion within young people and getting them to try something new.”