US Coach of the Year Martin Bilello and SF CalHeat represent USA at Partille Cup
The coach wants to spread the word about handball back in the States.
Martin Bilello started the team because his son wanted to play handball, and in August the Coach of the Year will take a US national team to the U19 World Championships in Croatia. He’s eager to share his love of the sport back in the States.
– It’s our mission to go back and tell the parents and the entire community about Partille and how big handball is in the rest of the world, says Martin Bilello.
SF CalHeat has traveled over from San Francisco as the only team from the United States to compete at Partille Cup. The team has a lot of support in the stands, as parents of some of the players have traveled over to cheer them on. Coach Martin Bilello, 45 years old, who was recently named coach of the year by US Team Handball, is a parent himself which is part of the reason that this team got started.
– We started youth development in the SF Bay Area seven years ago. The first middle school team that we started was me and my son when he was in middle school. That’s how we were able to start the team, then we recruited more kids, says Martin.
His son doesn’t play anymore but Martin is still very active in the team, having played the game himself when growing up in Argentina. SF CalHeat is now the biggest handball club in the US, with multiple men’s and women’s teams, as well as a youth section. Martin is also the head coach for the US U19 national team that is going to Croatia for the World Championships in August.
– We have four players from our team going. Our hope is that, generation after generation, we can fill that team with more players coming out of the US as well, says Martin.
Assistant coach Maximilian Paulus, 29 years old, is looking forward to talking to his team on Friday to see how their perspective on handball has shifted. Since the handball scene looks different in the US, they often end up playing against the same teams, and he hopes that seeing the mix of handball from different countries motivates the boys.
– We hope that the kids talk in their high schools about what they were able to do. Traveling to Europe is a fun thing to do so I hope that makes a couple of guys jealous and that they join us next year, says Maximilian.