Handball comes to Meadowbank Stadium for the first time this weekend.
The city venue will host the first tournament of its kind on Saturday as Edinburgh Handball Club showcases the action-packed sport, which is hugely popular throughout the continent.
With limited infrastructure and support in this country due to the relatively small numbers playing the game, financial help from several local sponsors has enabled the Capital club to invite over 100 players from across Britain and Ireland to battle for top honours in the court.
The club’s head coach and star player, Damien Roux, a former French semi-professional handball player who has lived in Edinburgh since 2009, believes this weekend presents a lucrative opportunity to reach out and unearth some raw potential.
“We want to push handball in the city because it is the capital of Scotland,” Roux explained. “Every time we have a handball event, it is in Glasgow or elsewhere so we wanted to take it to Edinburgh for the first time. This is our biggest event of the year and, depending on how things go, we might try to do another one at the end of the season around May or June next year. We want people to come along and see what handball has to offer.
“Some other teams around Scotland were asking to come and play on Saturday, but we just don’t have enough time to fit that many games in one day. The women’s team that are coming from Ireland saw the tournament on Twitter and asked if they could come over and play, so that’s great for us.”
Roux, along with long-term friend and business partner, Mounir Iddir, have strived to enhance the sport’s credentials since becoming involved with a club that holds their weekly training sessions at Liberton High School. Saturday’s event has sparked wide interest and a leading website for the sport has publicised its support.
Roux said: “The biggest website for handball in France has actually done an article on the tournament this weekend so that’s quite an achievement for not only us, but the club here in Edinburgh. We have had a lot of emails asking about coming along or buying tickets, but we wanted to make it free, as it’s about generating that awareness.
“We did see a big rise in numbers at the club in the early part of this year and this has continued. We have new sponsors for the season ahead. Even this week, we had four or five new players from Australia and France, so we hope it keeps going.”
With the new Scottish league inching ever closer, Roux believes the club is well equipped with the personnel who are more than capable of mounting a challenge for silverware.
He added: “We start the league right at the beginning of October so this tournament is good preparation for us. We should have a really strong team this season and we would like to do well in both the league and cup.”
The tournament starts at 10am on Saturday and admission is free.