Liverpool Handball Club’ women’s team have been excluded from the English Handball ‘Final Four’ tournament this season, despite being eligible to qualify after a successful season.

The Greenbank-based club announced on Instagram this week that, due to technicalities involving league rules, the women’s team would not be attending the end-of-season tournament.

The team were on track to join NEM Hawks and the top two from the Southern Premier Division in the league’s grand finale round-robin tournament, due to take place over three weeks in April.

Plans changed when the club failed to meet specific criteria put in place by the EHA (England Handball Association) that requires clubs to establish sufficient youth team networks at primary school level.

Club Secretary, Hannah Kempster said it was frustrating for the club.

She said: “Overall it’s just disappointment and a bit of anger. Everyone was playing really well, and we were enjoying the season.”

Despite being the oldest club in England, LHC are a fairly new squad, officially merging with Wirral Peninsula for the restructured north and south premier leagues introduced last year.

They have multiple members who help teach handball and P.E in secondary schools in the Merseyside area, but the league’s criteria specifies that a primary school setup, alongside competition and EHA meeting attendance is required to qualify for the ‘Final Four.’

Kempster said: “As well as weekly sessions at secondary schools, one of our volunteers does CPD (Continued professional development) for teachers. He helps teach GCSE P.E to teachers so they can teach at the schools. Why does that not class as assisting the development of the sport?

“Everyone appreciates the need for development, it’s just annoying that we haven’t got the appreciation from the EHA as a newer side making that final four.

“We’ve got plans to set up in primary schools over Easter, which we’ve mentioned in our appeal, but because of this we had an idea that this announcement was coming.”

There was reason for optimism after they pulled together a team in a relatively short amount of time.

Kempster said: “If not for an admin error changing the throw-off of one of our games against Birmingham meaning our players couldn’t attend, we should have won the northern league.”

A similar situation has happened with London handball club, London GD’s men’s and women’s teams. They said in their recent Instagram post: “We do not have words to express our disappointment.”
They pointed-out that they also had a youth plan in place, but it didn’t meet the league’s requirements.

Both teams expressed disappointment with the EHA’s administrative procedures.

Kempster said: “If you read the comments on both of our posts, there are quite a few saying nothing has changed.”

There are now fears that these complications will discourage players from joining or continuing in the sport.

LHC remain hopeful the situation will resolve itself soon.

Kempster said: “We’ll probably lose some numbers from our women’s team in the next few years, learning that you’ve worked hard just to be told you can’t make this final competition based off of some criteria.

“I think we must be hopeful it will change. I know the work that were doing will eventually allow us to establish a decent youth setup.”

Both of the club’s teams have one remaining game of the season to play, with the women’s team facing the champions of the south in the national cup.

You can keep up with LHC’s activities on their Instagram @liverpool_hc