Jukes hoping to give sport a helping hand

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London 2012 Olympian Louise Jukes is hoping to transfer the handball craze she helped spark in Ipswich over to the west of the county.

The first of six free Suffolk Sport taster sessions took place at Abbeycroft Leisure Centre in Bury St Edmunds on Monday.

And Suffolk Sport development officer Jukes, who only took up the game later in life herself, is hoping enough interest will be displayed to start only the second club in the county.

“Before the Olympics if you mentioned handball no-one knew what it was — people thought it was slapping a ball against a wall,” said the Suffolk Olympian. “Now most people have played it or seen it and we want to keep building on that legacy. It has taken a long time, as we have had to upskill coaches to deliver it.”

Bury have two dedicated coaches, led by Horringer Court Middle School teacher James Holmes.

After Holmes helped establish the indoor seven-a-side game — involving two teams of seven players attempting to throw the ball into their opponents goal more times than each other — as a popular sport at his school, Jukes is hoping he can help it catch on in Bury.

“We only had six or seven people come to the first session but they all loved it and said it was a great sport,” she said. “Once we get people through the door it grows and grows and that is what happened in Ipswich.”

After Great Britain’s senior team was disbanded following their funding being cut after not winning an Olympic medal, Jukes moved out to play in Denmark, but has recently returned.

All ages and abilities are welcomed at the sessions, with no need to pre-book, with participants only required to bring trainers and gym wear.