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Handball heroines are the national champs

By Joseph Masi | Grassroots | Published:

A talented handball team is celebrating after being crowned national champions for the second successive year.

Olympia Cannock

Cannock Olympia reclaimed their under-19s national handball title after beating Stroud at the Derby Arena last weekend.

The victory is the latest in a long line of success for the team which is coached by Maria Moore.

Over the past few years, the Olympia under-19s have reached 10 national finals and won eight of them.

Olivia Gonzalves, Athalia Imbanga, Ellie Smith, Annie Hicklin and Mia Williams all played starring roles in their latest triumph – with Imbanga netting in the final 20 seconds to secure a 24-23 win over Stroud.

And club chairman Nenad Popovic believes the girls’ success will never be repeated.

“It is really difficult to win the national two years ago so this really is a fantastic achievement,” he said. “The success of this team will never be repeated.

“It is special because all the girls attend Cardinal Griffin Catholic College except for one who is from Sutton Coldfield.

“They have now played in 10 national finals, winning eight of them and have only ever lost one game in their age category.

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“The girls are a credit to Cannock and the area.”

Following the performance at the Derby Arena, Gonsalves was crowned Most Value Player for the second successive year.

And while she is too old to play for the team next year, Popovic isn’t ruling out a hat-trick of national titles. “All but three of the girls are eligible to play for the under-19s next year,” he continued.

“Some of them are going off to play in the senior for Manchester Hawks.

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“It could be a hat-trick of victories but it is going to be very difficult.

“Gonsalves was crowned MVP but she can’t play next year because she is too

old by three days which she isn’t happy about.

“But this is a fantastic team full of talented players so they will give it everything.”

Meanwhile, Popovic thanked team sponsor Cameron Homes for the role they have played in the team’s success.

“We have all benefited from the support of Cameron Homes who are drivers behind girls’ handball in the area,” he added.

“Because of all the support they have given us we have been able to grow and attract girls from further afield. We have now got a host of talented youngsters coming through the ranks and they’ll ensure the club is successful for many years.”

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ - @josephmasi_star

Football journalist for the Express & Star covering Walsall FC.

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