HANDBALL: Taster session puts James on the fast track into GB squad

A WINNINGTON teenager has worked his way into the Great Britain handball squad just 18 months since taking up the sport.

Sir John Deane’s College student James Cooper started playing handball last year after a taster session at former school Hartford High.

Quickly progressing into county and then England youth teams, the 16-year-old recently returned from a GB under 18s training camp in Scotland and is already eyeing a spot in the squad for the European Championships in 2015.

“I loved getting the call-up, I never thought I would be doing this just over a year ago so I was quite surprised to make the GB squad,” said the goalkeeper.

“I play as a striker in football so fancied a change for the taster session.

“Then the coach asked me to come to his club and it’s all happened pretty quickly from there.

“It’s pretty physical in the men’s league so I think I’d rather take a ball to the face in goal than be out on pitch.

“I’m hoping to make the squad in 2015, the French goalkeeper is the best in the world and he’s 47, so I’ve got a few years on him!”

Cooper plays domestically for Chester-based Deva, who compete in the Super Eight League.

“The GB men’s coach is also a coach at Salford,” he added.

“So the big games like that I hope to try and impress and get myself noticed.

“We’re also travelling to the Olympic Park to play in the Copper Box Arena against Great Dane, who are one of the best teams, which I’m really looking forward to.”

However, the youngster is considering a move to Scandinavia once he finishes college.

“I’m hoping to get a place on a scholarship programme in Denmark as there are no professional teams in England,” he explained.

“If I could get over there and play then hopefully I’d be able to get spotted by a club.”

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