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West End school scoring above its mark in the fast moving sport of handball

Kelvin side Academy has won a host of national titles at handball since pupils took up the sport four years ago.

In four years since the sport was introduced there, Kelvinside Academy has won 13 national titles and 15 pupils have been capped by Scotland at age grade.

Now, a GB international has been appointed at the school to fulfil a growing appetite for handball.

Sarah Carrick has already taken pupils to the home of Scottish handball and led them through a performance training session at Oriam, Scotland’s sports performance centre.

Last month, Oriam hosted an event to celebrate the performance of Scotland’s Olympians and Paralympians in Rio.

However, for the pupils of Kelvinside Academy it is the legacy of London 2012 that lives on, as an Olympic trip four years ago kick-started the handball phenomenon at the school.

A group of primary seven pupils attended a handball match at the Olympic Games and came back desperate to try the sport for themselves.

Since then, teacher Fiona Kennedy has spearheaded a programme which has seen Kelvinside Academy become Scotland’s leading school for handball.

The primary 7 teacher said: “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.”

Last year, Hamish Bottomley and Monica Sloan were named Scotland’s U16 players of the year. During the Cell Cup in Hungary (boys) and the Granollers Cup in Spain (girls), Kelvinside had an impressive five players selected in each squad.

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

Her appointment comes just weeks after six of the school’s boys were selected for Scotland’s U17 side at the Viking Cup.

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.”

Meanwhile, six female pupils will find out whether or not they’ve made the GB U16 squad at the end of the month.

Stephen Neilson, chief executive of Handball Scotland is delighted to see Kelvinside Academy become part of the “handball family”.

He said: “Their involvement in the sport demonstrates what impact a home Olympic Games can have on smaller sports.

“They have become a major part of Handball in a very short time and many of their pupils have had a large number of achievements. We see Handball as a sport for all and are glad to have Kelvinside involved from the independent sector.

“We hope it encourages other schools in this area to take a look at Handball. It is a very easy sport to integrate in to existing sports programmes."

* More information about the school’s handball journey can be found at kelvinsideacademy.org.uk.

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