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Vikings are handed a first chance in league; HANDBALL.

TYNESIDE handball club the Newcastle Vikings are about to embark on their first competitive season after forming only a year ago, writes MICHAEL RACE.

The Vikings joined the Scottish Handball Association earlier this year and are scheduled to be playing against Edinburgh and Glasgow in the coming weeks after developing rapidly in just 12 months.

Head coach Marlen Slinning said: "We started the club a year ago and had a lot of development sessions which attracted quite a bit of interest.

"This allowed us to form a few teams and develop the club to the standard of handball which can be played competitively."

The origins of handball are somehwat unclear. One view is the game was invented in Germany in the late 19thcentury to keep football players fit during the off-season.

Another is the game goes all the way back to the time of the ancient Greeks, with evidence showing the early stages of what is now modern-day handball.

One thing for sure - the Vikings are the first and only handball club in the North East to play competitively, the new squad taking on 14 other teams from across Brirtain in the Association.

Slinning added: "I have been playing handball since I was about five.

"I am from Norway and handball was big and competitive over there.

"It is great we as a club can now play competitively.

"The game has really taken off since the Olympic Games, which showed how action-packed and entertaining it could be.

"We chose to join the Scottish Handball Association as it is easier for us to travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow, where we will play most of our games as there is no court with the right dimensions to play in the North East."

A standard handball court is approximately 40 metres long and 20 metres wide - a large indoor arena to facilitate the action-packed sport which inspired the Vikings to form.

As well as their senior side, the Vikings have launched junior handball sessions at the Percy Hedley Sports Academy in Killingworth.

Slinning said said: "We hope we attract new members to our club with a grant we were given from Sport England aimed at increasing participation in the North East.

"Handball is enjoyable, great fun, a great way to meet new people and a new exciting sport to try out for all ages and genders."

Anyone interested in playing for the club should along to training sessions on Wednedasys (juniors 7.00-8.00, adults 8.00-10.00) at Percy Hedley School.

CAPTION(S):

The Newcasstle Vikings handball squad (above) which will be playing competitively in Scotland this autumn - just a year after being formed
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 23, 2013
Words:442
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