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24.06.2015, 10:46
Italy’s women aim for the top, men aim for experience
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FEATURE: When the European Beach Handball Championships start in Lloret de Mar at the end of this month, there is definitely one Italian team that has set its sight firmly on a podium finish
 

Italy’s women aim for the top, men aim for experience

What unites Italy’s women’s and men’s team ahead of the European Beach Handball Championships in Lloret de Mar (30 June to 5 July) is that neither the one nor the other team is travelling to Spain with the intention of just having a good time.

However, under the magnifying glass the teams’ ambitions differ.

Tamas Neukum, coach of the women's team, leads a squad to Lloret that can build on good results achieved recently.

Esercito-FIGH Futura Roma, whose players form the core of the national team as well, came third at the EHF Champions Cup on the island of Gran Canaria.

Furthermore Italy’s women finished fifth at the European Championships 2013 in Randers and sixth one year later at the World Championship in Brazil and have world-class beach handball athletes such as Anika Niederweiser, voted best defender at the World Championship 2014, and Cristina Gheorghe in their ranks.

"We're trying to move forward step by step," says Neukum. "This is our vision to build the team's future, but we want to try to achieve significant results immediately.

"Our objective for the next European Championships is to reach the semi-finals and qualify for the next World Championships."

Italy will face Hungary, Russia, Switzerland, Poland, Serbia and Germany in Group A.

"The team spirit is excellent and we have been working well to prepare a good defence and an organised attack.

"I’m very satisfied with the excellent physical condition of the players, thanks to the work that many of them perform in Rome with the team of the Italian Federation, Esercito-FIGH Futura Roma."

Different goals in the men’s team

While the women reach high, expectations are a bit more modest in the men’s team.

The team’s coach is Pasquale Maione, a former beach handball player and currently Italy’s captain in the indoor national team.

With many new players on board, Maione’s objectives for the team is to gain experience and prepare for the Mediterranean Beach Games which will be held in Italy, in the city of Pescara, from 30 August to 2 September.

"Our team is almost entirely different compared to the team at the European Championships 2013 in Denmark. We come to this event with enthusiasm and the desire to do well," says Pasquale Maione.

"We know that in Europe there are many of the world’s strongest teams. We want to do well in our Group (against Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Norway and Switzerland) and use this event as the first step ahead of the Mediterranean Beach Games where we will be the host nation."

"The team is very young, even though we tried to add some experience with athletes such as Pierluigi Di Marcello or as Flavio Messina.

"We know we have to work and grow, but we’re working hard. We want to do well and give our best."

Photos: Italian Handball Federation


TEXT: Matteo Aldamonte (FIGH) / ts
 
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