Poole Phoenix’s ‘Handball Mammas’ project engages the mums of junior players and has become a weekly highlight for those who take part.
An inclusive, welcoming atmosphere, coupled with a real sense of family has had a profound impact on many of the newbies.
Heather has struggled with mental health and the Handball Mammas has provided her with an outlet to laugh, learn and get active.
She said “When Liz first formed the Handball Mammas the very first impression I had was of a group of ladies who made me laugh. We all had the goal that we wanted to learn about handball and were open to a new experience.
“In my case, which no-one will know, is the struggle I was having with mental health following diagnosis of a condition called Ehlers Danlos - and the impact it was going to have on the rest of my life.
“I have made friends with a group of wonderful people who looked out for me when I needed it. I cannot thank Liz enough for everything she has done to make the Handball Mammas happen.”
As well as the social benefits of the project, there has also been a significant improvement in the fitness of the women taking to the court.
Nicky reflected on the impact it has made on her. She commented: “Over 50, over weight and lacking confidence, joining Handball Mammas got me moving again. Fun and friendships made me feel I could do new things and challenge myself.
“From couch potato to Half Marathon runner! This year I completed the Bournemouth Half Marathon - having never done any form of running! I must thank the fellow Handball Mammas. Strength comes from belonging.”
The project was set up a year ago through funding from England Handball’s Pro-Active Club programme.
Club coach and project leader, Liz Roberts is delighted with what has been accomplished. She said: “The Handball Mammas was a playful passing comment that transformed into a life-changing reality.
“Thanks to England Handball's Pro-Active funding, we were able to support the project with hall time and equipment. It has been an overwhelming success and continues to grow week-on-week - success that we are incredibly proud of and that has the Dads asking when they'll get their own group!”
England Handball is supported by the Sport and Recreation Alliance who believe that the power of sport and recreation can changes lives and bring communities together. Alongside their members, and in partnership with the wider sector, they make the most of opportunities and tackle the areas that provide a challenge.
Director at the Alliance, James Allen said: “We commend England Handball on the excellent work they have done as we know that mothers are a notoriously hard to reach group.
“Successes such as this show that inventive and creative ways to encourage activity are being developed across the sector and by sharing this best practice, we can all do more to get the nation active.”
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