BOBBY White is targeting victory against Argentina as the springboard for Team GB’s men’s handball team to progress to the quarter finals at London 2012.
The goalkeeper and captain will lead his men into battle at the Olympics as rank outsiders to reach the last eight of the competition, but what the team may lack in ability and experience, they more than make up for in terms of effort and commitment.
The action begins this Sunday and runs to August 12, with group stage games being played at the Copper Box, and the knockout ties at the Basketball Arena. The 12 competing nations are divided into two pools of six, with the top four in each progressing to the quarter finals.
After facing reigning World and Olympic champions France on the first Sunday evening of the Games, Team GB play Sweden, Argentina, Tunisia and Israel, with a 48-hour break between each game.
And it’s that clash against Argentina – also at the Olympics for the very first time – that White believes gives his side their best chance of pulling off a memorable win in front of their home fans.
“We’ve talked about it at length and we think we can beat them,” said White, who will complete an incredible sporting journey when he leads his country out on Sunday, having played in goal for Newport Pagnell Town just five years ago.
“That’s not to say we don’t think we can take something off the other teams, because we can, but being realistic we think Argentina will be our chance to record at least one victory.
“We can’t wait to get out there playing. It’s hard to put into words what I’ll be feeling when we walk out for that France game. It’s been an incredible few years, I’ve travelled all over the world to play the sport I love and met some great people. Now I’m playing at the Olympics – it’s incredible.”
White’s journey from playing United Counties League football to representing his country at the greatest show on earth is a remarkable one. Back in 2007 he was in his early 20s when he watched Sir Steve Redgrave on the BBC trying to recruit players for the team, and he ticked all the boxes – over 6ft 3in tall, under 25, and with experience of playing sport to a good standard.
The now 29-year-old was soon whisked off to train full time in Denmark and never looked back, going on to play for two clubs in the very popular Danish League before moving to Greece and then on to France.
The British team didn’t automatically qualify as a host nation having never been to a Games before, but after proving to the British Olympic Association that they were capable of competing against some of the more established countries in friendly games, that place was confirmed and planning could begin.
That will seem like a lifetime ago for White who is completely focused on the job at hand – which not only includes showcasing handball in Britain, but also making sure the team do themselves justice in uncharted waters.
Preparations have recently taken White and his team to a training camp in Serbia, before they returned to the UK and spent time at Team GB’s holding camp in Loughborough last week. They have since moved into the Olympic Village, and played at the Copper Box for the first time on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately that friendly didn’t go to plan as Hungary ran out comfortable 44-21 winners, just a couple of weeks after winning 42-20 in an earlier meeting in Szeged. Team GB have one more game before their Olympic bow when they face Serbia on Thursday.
Whatever happens on Sunday and during the rest of their Olympic adventure, White can take great pride from what he has personally achieved over the last five years, and if Team GB can secure a memorable win, then even better.