Maltese handball player Mathilde Friggieri formed part of the team that has won the England Handball Association (EHA) women’s national league for 2012/13.

In this year’s hard-fought final match for the English title, which had to go into extra time, the women’s team of Olympia London Handball Club defeated neighbours and archrivals London Great Dane Handball Club to win the team’s first ever title. London-based Olympia is a multi-national club with players from ten different countries trained by the experienced Romanian coach, Aurelian Gug. Mathilde Friggieri, one of the squad’s regular players, played for the women’s team of the Aloysians Handball Club before moving to London three years ago. She is also Olympia’s club manager.

The final match, in which this year’s championship had to be decided, was played at Sport House in Barking, East London. Great Dane, a team made up of players from fifteen different nations, went quickly ahead and looked organised and strong. They kept a clear lead throughout the first half, while the Olympia ladies struggled to find their pace, trailing 12-8 at the break.

London Great Dane continued leading the game in the first part of the second half. With less than nine minutes on the clock remaining, Olympia stepped up gear. They came back strongly and managed to level the score at 16-16, with pivot Mathilde Friggieri being one of the scorers. London Great Dane would not lie down and eventually went ahead at 20-18. Cheered on by a spectacular audience, Olympia struck back in quick succession and, with just a few seconds left to play, they managed to score the crucial equalizer. At 21-21, the match went into extra-time. Playing a fast and intelligent game, the Olympia players started scoring one goal after the other, with Friggieri again being among the scorers. Great Dane’s resistance was finally broken as Olympia won the match 28-22 – and the championship. The Olympia Handball Club ladies received their trophy on Saturday, 8th June, at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

Mathilde Friggieri with the head coach of the men’s French national handball team, Claude Onesta. The French team won the gold medal in last year’s London Olympic Games. Friggieri was a court assistant during the games.

Article by Ritianne Camilleri