People across Manchester are being encouraged to play handball – one of the fastest growing indoor sports in the country – as part of a new campaign led by England handball.

The #ReclaimTheCourt campaign was launched with the aim of raising awareness and participation in handball, which coincides with the relaxation of lockdown restrictions in England.

It has been more than a full year since all indoor sports were suspended due to COVID-19, which forced registered handball clubs across England – including local clubs Manchester University, Manchester Handball Club and NEM Hawks – to suspend training and all competitive games set indefinitely.

Before the pandemic, handball was one of the fastest growing indoor sports in the country. Its popularity in schools as part of the curriculum helped generate high levels of interest and participation.

The game is very popular across Europe and the rest of the world, with millions of players and global competitions. Handball is also an Olympic sport and teams from all over the world will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

John Pearce, who represented Team GB in handball in London 2012 and is the national manager for competitions and events for England Handball, said: “Our #ReclaimTheCourt campaign is about connecting more people than ever to handball and the Regaining momentum that we built before COVID-19.

“Lockdown has resulted in many people across the country not having an opportunity to exercise. That is why we encourage them to step onto a handball court – be it for the first time or for the 500th time – and get involved. A sport that is fast-paced, precise and exciting.

“Playing handball is also a great way to stay active with the physical and mental benefits that sport can offer. Handball is also an extremely diverse sport that men, women and children play in. In England, players from more than 55 different countries are registered in clubs across the country. “

In line with the government’s roadmap, the go-ahead was given to outdoor exercise for all ages on March 29th. Players under the age of 18 were allowed to return to indoor training and competition on April 12th. These rules apply to all ages from May 17th.

“Lockdown has been very difficult for everyone and in the whole world of sport. I think people really want to play the games they love again.

“For the handball community, we’re counting down the days until May 17th and doing everything we can to ensure that the government’s roadmap stays on course.

“It’ll be an emotional day when we get back on the pitch and celebrate the trip through #ReclaimTheCourt and try to get as many people as possible with us.”

To find out more about handball in England and the selection of clubs across the country, visit https://www.englandhandball.com/

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