After three matchdays in a row followed by two rest days, Head Coach Bill Baillie reflects on the GB Women’s U19 EHF Championship in Bulgaria so far.
Saturday 13 July, 6pm: GB vs Serbia 35:13 (20:6)
As a top six nation in Europe, we anticipated that this could be a tough opening game for the team, and we were not wrong, but it was a great education in our players’ development.
Having started well with Serbia only leading 3:2 after seven minutes the GB women lost their way and soon found themselves down 20:6 at the half-time break.
In the second half, crucially, we managed to steady the ship and slowed down the flow of goals by the Serbians, before eventually losing 35:13.
Best Player of the Match for GB: Gabrielle Leese
Top scorers for GB: Athalia Ibanga 4, Camilla Jessen-Salter 3
Sunday 14 July, 7pm: GB vs Bulgaria 16:38 (8:17)
The next day saw another tough game against an impressive host side in Bulgaria, with many of their players playing at the same club.
Again, GB started the first 15 minutes well but a crucial 10-minute period before half time meant we fell behind by nine goals and were unable to stop the Bulgarians increasing this gap in the second half.
Best Player of the Match for GB: Katrina Thorslund
Top scorers: Camilla Jessen-Salter 3, Storm Judge 3
Monday 15 July, 5pm: GB v Greece 18:40 (7:20)
This was a match targeted for GB but, following a poor first half display with the team struggling to find any form, we were sadly out of the game by half-time (20:7).
With some harsh words at half-time and a change of personnel, the new players were able to step up and add 11 more goals to the total, but we struggled to stop a determined Greek side extending their lead.
Best Player of the Match for GB: Zoe Lacour
Top scorers: Zoe Lacour, Elly Stongridge and Katrina Thorslund 3 goals each
After three games lessons have been learnt and the girls know they have to train more and play more – particularly in regular international games.
The strengths of the other teams are clear. Serbia where big and strong with good technical players in all the positions, Bulgaria had great height and excellent shooters from the back court while Greece just showed that the game against was the game they wanted to win.
Our training and match analysis has been going well and is being player-led with the support of the coaching staff, but, at this point we are struggling to put our words into consistent actions on court.
With two rest days the players and coaching staff had some recovery time with the players spending time with their parents in Varna – in fact, there are approximately 20 families and friends in attendance, and we would like to thank them each and everyone one of them for the great support they have given us.
The Bulgarian Handball Federation have been great with the venue and town ideally located to each other for such a great event, our hotel has been good with spacious rooms and a great choice of food.
We are looking forward to the remaining games in the tournament and are all relishing the opportunity to test ourselves on a continental level against the more established teams in Europe.