Three Otago handball players are among New Zealand’s best after being named in an All Stars team.
Emily Kerr-Bell, Sophie Strathern and Lachlan Colquhoun were named in the under-19 women’s and men’s All Star teams at the New Zealand Handball Federation under-19 tournament on October 4-6.
Emily, of Kavanagh College, and Lachlan, of Kaikorai Valley College, said they were surprised to make the teams, but “stoked”.
The teams will not compete, and were selected as a form of recognition.
The Otago teams both finished fourth in the tournament, after facing strong teams from Canterbury and Wellington.
The girls’ team also played against an Australian side.
Emily said it was her first time representing Otago, and the competition was the toughest she had faced.
She has been playing for two years, and Lachlan has been playing for about three.
It was his second time in an Otago team.
“I like the physicality of it, but it’s not as physical as rugby,” he said.
“It’s quite fast as well.”
Eoin Murray, of Otago Handball, said he was not surprised by the players’ selection in the All Stars teams.
Team managers watched all the games and voted on who they thought were the two strongest players in each position, he said.
“I think it’s a real testament to their development in the last year, especially in the last six months.
“They were up against Wellington teams that have been playing at a really good level for five-six years.
Fellow Otago players Annalise Wilson and Daniel Lee won the sportsmanship awards, and Annalise finished third on the top goal-scorers list.
They all play in the schools league on Wednesday afternoons, which has grown considerably since it started about three years ago.
Initially, there were six mixed teams. Fifteen teams are signed up for the term 4 competition, and more are expected in term 1 next year.
Murray put the growth down to the positive environment and the people involved.
Players had taken coaching courses, and made regional and national teams, he said.
“They go back and share those experiences with their schools, which makes other people very enthusiastic to play.”