• Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Edinburgh University Handball Club: Fostering inclusivity in a competitive environment

ByCallum Devereux

Dec 9, 2023
Handball Spike

Despite being one of the newest sports clubs at the university, Edinburgh University Handball Club (EUHC) has quickly acquired a reputation for their inclusivity and welcoming attitude towards players new and old. It’s not an accident.

“Last year, we adopted our core values into our constitution whilst we were still a fairly new club, and we adopted the values of development, learning, enjoyment, and inclusivity to cement our view of the club as a space for anyone and everyone to play and join,” says Well-being and Inclusivity Officer Anna Dornbusch.  

“It means other unis without a handball club and alumni have come to join in with us for training,” noting the opportunities the club is creating that didn’t used to exist.

Created in 2020, the Handball Club was formed by students involved in both the Scottish Handball Association and GB Handball who sought to maintain their links to the sport even as curricular activities gradually asserted them.

One of those students, Tom Graham, represented Scotland as a junior in competition, taking up the sport on the whims of a school teacher inspired by the London 2012 Olympics. Now a fourth-year archaeology student, he relishes the club’s “very friendly environment.”

“For me, the sport comes second to the camaraderie and friendship I’ve made through the club. Being a very international club is cool as well, with players from across the world.”

“But even as a more experienced player, I like the expectation from the coaches that we can guide the less experienced players and assist them in both drills and matches.”

Despite the competition and high-quality experience of several players, Dornbusch cited her beginner status as something that made handball appealing to her.

“During Fresher’s Week in first year, I wanted to try a new sport I didn’t really know. Handball is not like football or hockey, where it seems like you need to play it your whole life to get involved with it.”

“The fact I can’t play isn’t a problem; we get to play and improve together. We’ve also run beginner sessions at the beginning of each semester specifically geared to teaching the basics. This year, after seven or eight weeks, it became a regular skills session for everyone. 

And for all the focus on sporting improvement and coaching, Dornbusch also relishes the competitive elements that come with sports society. 

“[Even if] our scavenger hunt [social] was the most fun moment, I also like our competitions in BUCS and the final four (a one-day ‘handball party’ where the top four teams play each other for the Scottish Championship and determine BUCS divisions). It’s special when we stay in a hotel for a weekend and see everyone’s other side over dinner or in the hotel breakfasts; that’s all a lot of fun and cool.”

As a new club not bound by institutional inflexibility or unwelcome traditions, EUHC has built the team environment they want it to be, an environment where “no one will ever judge you or make you feel bad for anything you might do” according to Dornbusch, her pride tangible.

“Anyone can learn to play, coaches and [the] experienced are happy to help players learn, there’s never any stupid questions, and everyone is positive towards one another.

Photo Via Max van Kooy.

By Callum Devereux

Editor-in-Chief: May-September 2022; Deputy EiC: April 2022, August-December 2023; Opinion Editor: October 2021-May 2022. Contributor since September 2020.