USA Men’s National Team Conduct Training Camps in Luxembourg and Israel

By Mark Ortega | Jan. 08, 2019, 8 a.m. (ET)

“Play handball, see the world."  This had long stood as the motto for the Men’s USA National Team athletes.

The Men’s National Team has had the opportunity to travel throughout the world for many competitions, for many athletes these experiences are life changing.  The Men’s National Team following the leadership of Olympic veteran Robert Hedin is focused on improving their competitive results against well-matched opponents.

Over the past several months the USA Men’s National Team has been changing the quality of their play and getting positive results in handball competitions against team’s whose skill level mirror or are slightly better than our squad.  This improvement has occurred by enlarging the player pool of athletes and putting in place creative organizational strategies that will provide the necessary growth and development of our National team.  As an emerging support, we receive little funding for our National Team Athletes and Coaching Staff, and therefore, everyone is required to make many sacrifices training and compete internationally.

A key component is that all the athletes in the pool have committed themselves to advance USA Team Handball to the next level.

The Captain of the Men’s National Team Lewis Howes put it this way, “I will do whatever is necessary to help build our team for now and develop for the future.  Even if that means, being selected, taking a reserve role as an alternate, or being called at the last minute."

We are currently holding a training camp in Luxembourg and then traveling to Israel, our team has had the opportunity to play against some quality opponents.  We are grateful to the Luxembourg Handball Federation for hosting us and providing our USA MNT with quality games.

The first of two friendly matches played against Luxembourg played in Dudelange saw the USA team fold to their hosts 32:25.  On Saturday evening, teams played in Bettembourg.  During the second game, Team USA made a number of adjustments to match Luxembourg's level of play, and we to put ourselves in a position to compete well, just missing the opportunity to come away with a win.  The end result was a one point match loss (26-27), however, it was a good competition for us.

The USA traveled to Israel for 3 games.  Team USA added one of its most experienced players, Gary Hines, the team welcomes the veteran’s leadership.  Gary Hines, a skillful handballer who plays in Germany, scored 9 goals for the USA side.  Hines began his career in the USA through a youth development program, and has spent most of his time playing in Germany with HSC Bad Neustadt.  Another player who stood out in the first of the friendly games was Aboubakar, Fofana, the tall backcourt, from East Orange, New Jersey, scored 7 goals to help his team.  Abou, as he is known to his teammates plays for Grand Nancy Metropole Handball Club in France.  The USA maintained contact with their opponents for most of the first game, trailing by as little as 2 goals, however, the deficit increased as the match came to a close. The final deficit increased to eight goals with a 40 -32 loss for the Stars and Stripes.

The MNT team will make some adjustments and as they become accustomed to Israel’s style of play. Head Coach Robert Hedin continues to look for the right combination of players for his unit and emphasizes sound technical and tactical development for his team.

“It has been an exciting few months working with the USA athletes.  Over the past six months the team is making progress, not just as a team but as individual players," said Head Coach Robert Hedin.

The USA looks to use the remaining game against the Israel Senior and Junior national teams to gain experience for the PAN AM Games in Lima, Peru later this year, July 2019.

Game 1:  USA vs Luxembourg , Result: 25-32 Luxembourg

Game 2: USA vs Luxembourg, Result:  26-27 Luxembourg

Game 3: USA vs Israel, Result: 32-40 Israel

Game 4: USA vs Israel, Result: 25 - 34 Israel

Game 5:  USA vs Israel Jr Team, January 9th