Handball_1March 16 - English handball has been given a financial boost in the run-up to the Olympic Games.

Officials from the European Handball Federation (EHF) announced their support while in London to inspect progress in creating a lasting legacy for the sport after 2012.

Sport England and England Handball will get further help in this country though the EHF's Infrastructure Support Programme, a new funding initiative providing investment and part-funding for key personnel.

Handball, which is very popular in many parts of Europe, is using the opportunity of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games to establish a stronger foothold in England.

It is already capturing the imagination of a new generation of players here, with 45,000 schoolchildren now playing.

They have been helped by the 420 Change 4 Life sports clubs being established to bridge the gap between school and club participation.

England Handball's figures show that the number of adult players currently stands at around 11,000.

The EHF delegates visited the Olympic Park to see building work on the Handball Arena.

After the Games the venue will be adapted as a multi-use sports centre for the community.

They were also able to see how handball is taking hold among young people during a tour of Newham Leisure Centre, where boys and girls from two local schools were playing the sport.

Jean Brihault, vice-president of the EHF, said: "The London 2012 Olympic Games represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a lasting legacy for handball in England.

"The EHF is pleased to be able to support England Handball's development plans through this three-year investment, which will enable the employment of a full-time handball development officer in the Olympic host city."

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: "Thousands of English youngsters are now discovering the excitement and exhilaration of handball – something many of their European counterparts have long known about.

"We really welcome the support being given by the European Handball Federation to the development of the sport in this country."