Newcastle Vikings HC introduces handball to local cricket club and Tesco Extra

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Newcastle Vikings HC introduces handball to local cricket club and demonstrate the sport to customers at Tesco Extra (and now they are introducing Walking Handball)

Handball in England is growing, but still relatively unknown here, so for the sport and the clubs to raise the profile and grow they have to develop partnerships and be innovative.

Newcastle Vikings HC is a dynamic club which is one of the clubs supported by Svend Elkjaer of SMN as part of England Handball’s club support programme.

They have just run two enterprising initiatives, one with cricket and one with Tesco Extra

All Stars Cricket is a programme run by the ECB to provide boys and girls from 5-8 years old with 8 weeks of non-stop fun. The activity and game based programme is suitable for all skill levels, providing the children with the foundations to begin a lifelong love of physical activity and cricket while making friends in a safe and enjoyable.

As throving a ball is part of both cricket and handball the great people at Newcastle Vikings decided to showcase their sport to local All Star participants.

Svend knows Russell Perry, Chair of Northumberlanmd Cricket Board and who is also involved local, dynamic cricket club, Corbridge CC.

They met and it was agreed that the Vikings could take part in some of the All Star Cricket sessions at Corbridge, introducing the almost 100 5-8 year olds to handball.

The sessions were a great success and here is a post from Corbridge CC’s Facebook page:

“…we had another fun filled night of All Stars. Thanks to the coaches from Newcastle Vikings Handball Club who brought their sport to Corbridge as the fielding station. The throwing, catching, jumping and running mirrored the work we all do in the field and provided much needed extra helpers. The Handball club are based in Benfield School and are keen to hear from local clubs running All Stars in their area.!

Almost 100 5-8 year olds traying handball in Northumberland

“It was really great linking up with the cricket community in the North East” said Marlen Slinning Goulty, Chairperson at Newcastle Vikings HC, “and we are really pleased that It has already been agreed that Nortumberland Cricket Board will support a wider role out of the collaboration in 2020”

On a sunny Saturday the Vikings demonstrated handball to the large number of Tesco Extra customers as part of the Kingston Park store’s Diabetes Awareness Day. 

Tesco customers of all ages enjoyed Try Handball which is a version of the sport which uses smaller, softer balls and which can be enjoyed by beginners.

The Vikings have just received funding to set up a Walking Handball programme, aimed at the slighter older age group around Newcastle.


Walking handball is already popular in the Netherlands

So, for any of our smaller, less know sports. Go out there, Be innovative. 

Talk to people across your community.

Be bold.

Are you ‘just sport’ or are you #MoreThanSport?

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Are you ‘just sport’ or are you #MoreThanSport?

That distinction determines your Scope, Partners, Income and Impact –
in other words: Grow your SPI²

Sadly, we still come across (too) many sports bodies, clubs and coaches who only see the world through the lens of ‘sport’, ‘winning’ and ‘performance’.  They think that the whole world should support and play the real, traditional versions of their sport that they have been practising and training for ages.

They only see their players as ‘sports’ people and have little interest in the rest of their lives. The notion that sport should play a wider role in our communities and in people’s lives is an anathema to them.  And yet they are the first to call for more funding and support for their sport and they are convinced that if only the BBC showed their sport day in and day out everybody would be really excited and rush down to their clubs.  Forgetting that the environment they provide to newcomers is often rather unwelcoming, especially to the less talented and able.

The good news is that we are experiencing an increasing number of bodies and clubs and other providers of sport who are benefetting considerably from adapting a broader outlook and deliver more than sport.

So, how they do that? 
What is the process like?

Firstly, broaden you must broaden your scope and get everybody behind that you are a place for everybody. 
Yes, you will have people within your board who don’t like change. 
But as the quote below states

Many traditional sports bodies and their clubs are suffering and are often closing down because they are too narrow in their scope. In our experience, you need a mix of new people with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, combined with some of the excisting group, especially those who support change.  (Note, based on many case-studies: Get rid of the naysayers. You will never be able to change them!)

You can now become a hub for your community and become relevant to more people, both players, parents and siblings.


Of course, the process of broadening your scope can be difficult and hard work, but we have seen it happen at many places and we have had the pleasure of working with a number of bodies and clubs helping them on the way.
You can now start looking at who you can partner with.  When you are ‘just sport’ you are not really relevant to many external partners, but with your new scope you can gradually develop relations with an increasing number of non-sportsc partners around you, as you can see on the Your Club diagram:

A couple of examples from the real world

Llandrindod Wells FC link up with Tesco through their community engagement
Llandrindod Wells FC are based in this town in Mid Wales with a population of 5,309. 
The football club are one of the clubs involved with the FAW Trust’s More than a club support and mentoring programme. 

Over the last six months, they have organised a Dog Walk, a walk to the top of local Pen-y-Fan mountain  (881 metres) and a great day out at the club for 200 young carers. 

Through all that good work they got in contact with Jayne Griffiths, Community Champion at the local Tesco Extra (every one of the 253 Tesco Extras in the UK employ a Community Champion).The two are now collaborating with all sorts of events, include a Diabetes Awareness Day and collection of sports equipment for Africa and Jayne is now helping the club with organising the Club Awards.

Jayne presented at the recent More than a club conference for the FAW Trust’s where she encouraged all the clubs to play a wider role in their community.

As Jayne said: “I  didn’t know anything about football but it’s all about being together, out there and making a difference. Football clubs need to be a part of their community.”

Cricket Scotland link up with a university, Pakistani community, Glasgow City Councillors and cricket for visually impaired people
Over the last few years, Cricket Scotland has evolved into one of our most innovative and engaging sports governing bodies.
An outcome of that change was the establishment of a partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (strapline: “University for Common Good”) and Lord Taverner’s to employ Arran Ashraf as Community Engagement Officer in Glasgow.

Part of his role is to help transform some of Glasgow’s most marginalised communities and bring cricket to black and minority ethnic, migrant and refugee communities in Glasgow and build social cohesion and support integration. 

Part of his role is to help transform some of Glasgow’s most marginalised communities and bring cricket to black and minority ethnic, migrant and refugee communities in Glasgow and build social cohesion and support integration. 
Ammar has already set up a Tapeball cricket league and festival and organised a visually impaired cricket match played between a team of Glasgow City Councillors and people with sight loss.
The specially arranged indoor match pitched eight city councillors – wearing blindfolds or ‘sim-specs’ that simulate different sight loss conditions – against a team of members, volunteers and staff from sight loss charity RNIB Scotland. Visually impaired cricket, in fact, is played internationally and there is an International Blind Cricket Team.
It is also worth noting that Cricket Scotland receives awards from the International Cricket Council for their development work and innovation, on a regular basis.

By being vibrant, visible and viable Valley Gymnastics Academy has over seven years grown from 100 to 3,000 members and they now turn over £800,000. Only 100 members are competitive gymnasts, the rest are there for the fun and the exercise. 

By taking these steps you now, almost automatically, grow your impact on your community and on people’s lives.

It really is that simple. But, you have to be willing and able to take those first steps


You can learn more about the #MoreThanSport Academy click here

If you want to learn more about to become more inclusive and diverse and engage with inactive people, do get in touch

Asset transfers

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Asset transfers – a great way of developing community assets,  or a convenient way for local authorities to get rid of ramshackle facilities, or both?

Asset transfers of community buildings and sports facilities have taken place across the UK for a few years now. In many cases, they have gone well and a bunber of community groups and sports clubs now run their own facilities and can grow their impact in the community.

An example is Jesmond Swimming Pool in Newcastle which was one of the first sports facilities to be transferred to community ownership in 1992. Since then it has been an innovative award winning social enterprise.

Freed from the constraints of the bureaucracy of the local authority the management has developed an innovative and enterprising culture which is the envy of most other pool operators.

Jesmond Pool – a successful Community Asset Transfer

Community Asset Transfer (CAT) is the transfer of management and/or ownership of public land and buildings from its owner, usually, a local authority, to a community organisation, such as a social enterprise or sports club/trust, for less than market value – to achieve a local social, economic or environmental benefits.

In times of cuts to local authority funding, most Councils have had to either close down loss-making community facilities and sports centres and pitches or undertake a CAT, often to one, or several, of the tenants/users of the facility. So the tenant becomes a landlord, with all what the entails of challenges and opportunities.

So, in principle, this should all be good stuff – all part of The Third Way or The Big Society, depending on your political persuasion.

However, it has to be said that during our with community sports providers we have come across too many examples where we have experienced asset transfers being botched. This is partly due to incompence and less than fair and decent behaviour from local authorities and real lack of understanding of the challenges at many community sports clubs.

There are indeed a number of guides to CATs, including a brilliant one produced by the Scottish FA but we do wonder how many parties involved with asset transfers actually bother do reads these guides. Our straw poll certainly confirms that neither the Estate Manager at the Council or whoever else is involved with the asset transfer rarely do more than 2-3 asset transfers in their careers nor do the Secretary/Chair at the club do more than one asset transfer. So, it’s very much the blind leading the blind.

We have just seen a case where the Council did not issue the guide and criteria for evaluating the asset transfer bid until after the deadline. The people in charge at the Council were either on sick leave or on holiday so it was impossible to get any response for the bidders.

In the end, the asset has now been promised to a consortium of clubs which includes a club which has gone bust twice and is no longer affiliated to the appropriate governing body. When the relevant Director at the Council was queried about the soundness of the decision hand over the asset to a twice-bankrupt organisation the answer was that ”we should look forward, not backward’.

At the same time, we come across too many club committees who have not a real grasp of the business and enterprise aspects of running the facility, but just want to ensure that they still have a home, or so they think.

I was with one community sports club which was about to take other the two muddy pitches and an almost derelict club house. The only person on the commnittee who had seen the budget was the Treasurer who had produced the budget, so the club’s management was blissfully unaware of what they were taking on. Also, the club was not incorporated as a Community Interest Company or Charity or something else, so the committee members would all be personally liable for any debts incurred.

Until we got involved no one had pointed that out to the committee members.

So, unfortunately, many Councils are handing over facilities to clubs and groups which may not always have the necessary enterprise culture and skills which can lead to very unfortunate situations.

Are you ready? Is your club ready for asset transfer?

Whilst community asset transfer is a process in its own right, much of the work preparing for CAT is about capacity building your organisation in readiness. This means:
• Making sure you have the right people and skills leading and governing the organisation
• Having the right structure (type of organisation) and protection (legal structure)
• Understanding and managing the risks that come with running a group and managing a building
• Being able to show how a building will help (and not hinder) your organisation in achieving the positive changes for people which your organisation exists to help.
• Having enough money and having robust plans for continuing to have enough money to run your group, its activities and a building
• Having a written, useful plan of all of the above

Are you sure? Have you:

• Gathered evidence to show how the community and local people will benefit from the transfer?
• Gathered evidence of community support for the transfer?
• Checked that you understand Manchester City Council’s Asset Transfer Strategy and if there have been other Community Asset
• Transfers nearby from which you can learn?

• Checked that land and buildings in question really are assets and not liabilities – for example, they are liabilities if they cannot generate enough income to fund repairs, maintenance and ongoing operational costs?
• Considered whether asset transfer is the right option and the best option for your organisation?

So how can Councils improve the way they handle their assets transfers?

• Learn from others – failures and successes Be honest about own motives, culture and skills
• Get your plan and timeline sorted from the outset
• Make sure the community clubs/groups do possess the appropriate enterprise culture and skills – if they don’t, signpost them to appropriate advice

If you would like to have a chat about Community Asset Transfer,  just get in touch. Svend Elkjaer

#MoreThanSport Academy Introductory Workshop Series

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A series of workshops introducing the core values of the #MoreThanSport Academy and providing practical examples of how to create positive environments that lead to positive experiences. Application is key, so all of our workshops are jargon free and packed with case studies and simple tools to help you put learning into practice.

House of Sport, 190 Great Dover St, London SE1 4YB


Are you engaging new audiences?


Welcoming environments for sport & physical activity


Friday 18th October 2019

9.30 am – 12.30 pm



Do you want to grow your great idea?


How to run your own sports enterprise


Friday 15th November 2019

9.30 am – 12.30 pm



Are you looking to achieve a wider purpose?

Partnering with the local community to achieve social outcomes


Friday 6th December 2019

9.30 am – 12.30 pm


Innovation is alive and kicking in community sport – are you?

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Innovation is alive and kicking in community sport – are you?

Ever since some rugby players in the USA more 100 years ago introduced the forward pass and thus set the foundation for what is now American Football have we seen regular innovations in sport and physical activity.

Some don’t really last, but most are ignored, or even ridiculed, by people within ‘The System’

Often these developments and innovations are not developed by people at the top, but by some ‘silly’ people out there in the communities who then take their initial wacky and make it come to life.

So, here are some examples I’ve come across. I am sure there are many others, and if you have an example, please let me know. Also, when you look at these cases, I want you to consider how you can introduce new thinking where you are…as they say ‘innovate of die’.

Mermaid swimming (or Mermaiding) is making a splash

Over the last few years, swimming wearing a mermaid tail has become indreasingly popular and there indeed a number of males doing it, called Mermen.

You have to be a relatively skilled swimmer to be allowed to put on the tail, which, apparently gives you feeling of freedom in the water
Last September saw the first Merlympics being held in Dorset
Some public pools do not allow swimming with a mermaid tail is due to safety regulations, whereas others positively encourage it and offer Mermaid Experiences and Parties. One of those is community-owned Jesmond Pool

Being a mermaid is apparently a cross between free diving and synchronised swimming – with your feet strapped together

Hobbyhorsing: what girls everywhere can learn from the Finnish craze

In Finland, the beginnings of the modern popularity of hobbyhorsing among young girls stands as something of a mystery, though it is known that for some while the community flourished secretly online. Today, there are not just practitioners but coaches, competitions, judges.

Enthusiasts assign their horses names, breeds and genders, and along the usual displays of cantering, trotting and galloping, meetings will cover everything from in-depth discussions of grooming, bloodlines, temperament, and, on at least one occasion, a two-part dressage routine choreographed to a song by the rapper Nelly.

The 8th Finnish National Championships were held in June with 400 participants and 2500 spectators and you can watch a brief video here

If this seems an unlikely pursuit for pubescent girls in an age of Snapchat and Fortnite, it’s worth considering that hobbyhorsing is on the rise, having already spread to Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands.

Harry Potter inspires new fast-growing sport, Quidditch

The sport inspired by Harry Potter’s wizarding game continues to evolve worldwide with 40,000 players in 25 countries
Twenty-five years ago the word quidditch barely existed in the English language. Today, not only is this term instantly-recognisable to legions of Harry Potter fans as the primary sport in J K Rowling’s wizarding world, but it has also evolved into a real-life, international sporting activity.
Quidditch started out in the early 2000s as a sporting activity for American Potter-aficionados eager to recreate the magical broomstick competitions from their childhood tales. However, over the years the sport, which consists of athletes running around with a broom between their legs, has become a popular game among students and Potter enthusiasts alike.

The game as a mix of handball, rugby and dodge ball, and has been stated that it’s “very community orientated” and “extremely inclusive”. One of the primary rules states that a team – consisting of 21 players but with only seven allowed on the pitch at any one time – can only have four people of one gender playing during the match. The rules are very complicated, but you can learn more here

There is now a Premier League in the UK, which has just added a number of European teams and their finals weekend takes place at the 20,000 seater AJ Bell Stadium in Salford 24th- 25th August.

Canicross sees human and dog leashed together for training runs and racing

Canicross is an an activity described simply as “running off-road with your dog”, although in reality there are many differences from just grabbing a lead and starting to jog. The most important distinction is that in canicross your dog runs in front and effectively pulls you along. This is possible because both of you wear a harness – your dog around its shoulders, you around your waist – and you’re attached together by a stretchy bungee cord. Also, you run on paths in greenspaces which places less pressure on the dogs’ paws.

The pace of Canicross doesn’t need to be fast and people of all ages and fitness levels can participate

So, this is all simple stuff. You decide whether you want to innovate and move forward or stay as you are and slide downwards.

Need a hand? Just get in touch.


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 Thriving handball clubs a cross England



England Handball launch bespoke enterprise mentoring and support programme for handball clubs in England

Sports Marketing Network to help English handball clubs to become vibrant, visible and viable

We have many great handball clubs in England and a great deal of those are keen to develop further into more sustainable community-based organisations
Handball in England is growing. Enterprising handball clubs can benefit from this and become real community handball enterprises and be #MoreThanAHandballClub 

Examples from other sports demonstrate that when clubs play a bigger role in their communities, and in people’s lives, they:

• attract more players and volunteers
• generate more income
• generally, have a much better future.

However, England Handball appreciates that for many aspiring clubs this development, exciting as it is, requires inspiration and support.
This is why we are announcing our new support and mentoring programme.
However, England Handball also appreciates that for many aspiring clubs this development, exciting as it is, requires inspiration and support.
This is why the governing body for handball in England, England Handball are announcing our new support and mentoring programme where handball clubs from across England are invited to benefit from participating in a 12-month programme where they can develop the skills and programmes which can help transform their clubs.

Stacey Andrews, National Partnerships Manager at England Handball

Stacey Andrews, said:

“We are delighted to have teamed up with Svend Elkjaer of Sports Marketing Network who will be delivering the support and mentoring programme. 

Following the positive response to his presentation at our 2018 club conference, England Handball has teamed up with Svend Elkjaer of Sports Marketing Network. Svend will be delivering the programme along with the England Handball partnerships team.
Svend has worked with community sports clubs across most sports across the UK and has a proven way of helping clubs to grow and become vibrant, visible and viable.

All handball clubs in England will be invited to apply to become involved with this 12-month programme, developing the skills and programmes to help transform, their clubs”, Stacey said.

She continued, “If selected, Svend will visit your club and run a workshop with as many people from the club as possible and help you identify your goals, opportunities and challenges. He will give you ideas and support on how to attract more players and volunteers, generate more income and become a bigger part of your community.

He will then work with you for 12 months, providing motivation and inspiration, and helping you overcome those unavoidable hurdles. Yes, there are always challenges, but most can be overcome”, ends Stacey Andrews.

This opportunity is only open to a small number of clubs. The selection process will be competitive. The clubs will be selected based on their desire and willingness to change and grow, and not on size or league position.

To apply to become part of a truly inspirational programme for handball clubs in England, complete and return the Application Form.

You are also welcome to send a video as your application, or to support it.

Just write why you want your club to be involved and about:

• your goals
• your challenges,
• your opportunities
• your skills
• your culture
• your capacity and capability
• what support are you looking for

To learn more about this programme contact Stacey Andrews on or Svend Elkjaer on or go to England Handball’s website