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25.10.2019, 18:12
The unbreakable bond of the Rødby Beach Boys
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INTERVIEW: Six years after they first met, the team from Denmark are still going strong and are continuing to tell a fascinating success story of beach handball in their homeland
 

THE UNBREAKABLE BOND OF THE RODBY BEACH BOYS

It was 2013 when the Danish Handball Federation turned to 10 young men to represent their country at their home European Under-19 Beach Handball Championships.

Pieced together at the last minute, little did the federation know what would happen next. The 10 players, who came from all corners of Denmark, and had never met each other before, went onto win bronze in front of a crowd of almost 1,000 in the Danish city of Randers.

Fast forward six years later and members of that squad are here at the Champions Cup in Catania, representing Rødby, a town in the south of Denmark.

They are still friends, still smiling and still winning. It is a story of an unbreakable friendship and one that has helped shape the success of the sport in Denmark.

“We were gathered by the federation after some trials,” explains Simon Moss, and an indoor player back home in Denmark with FIF, who play in the Danish second tier. “After winning bronze at the Under-19 Euro we just decided to stick together, the whole team, and create our own beach handball club.

“We had never met each other before we were put in a team but after the Euro we said to ourselves that we wanted the project to continue, we didn’t just want to stop.

“With some help from the federation, we’ve remained playing with each other for the last six years. We’ve won the Danish Championships twice in that time and we just get together for three months every year.”

Simon Moss, here scoring in the Champions Cup, has been with Rødby for six years

Of the 10 players who clinched that Under-19 Euro bronze and formed the Rødby Beach Boys, six are competing in Sicily – Moss, Tobias Tobias Jorgensen, Kristian Jensen Berth, Jeppe Villumsen, Christian Mortensen and Mathias Thomson.

Another teammate from the class of 2013, Lasse Kjaer Moller, would play but cannot make it – with good reason. The 23-year-old is concentrating on his indoor game: he plays in Denmark for GOG, who have won four of their five matches in this season’s VELUX EHF Champions League.

All of the current squad are playing indoor handball at some level but it is the success and camaraderie that began in Randers six years ago that keeps the same group coming back for more beach every summer.

“The friendship we have created is indestructible,” says Moss, who is originally from Rødby and is studying economics in his spare time. “When I look back on 2013 it was my most happiness moment in beach handball. I remember the amazing feeling to achieve something with an amazing group of people. We were 16-18 year-olds with no worries, having a blast on our home field with amazing support behind us.”

Rødby’s philosophy is special in beach handball. They coach themselves. The Danes have essentially a team ‘leader’ on the sidelines, a friend of the group who “knows nothing about the sport,” laughs Simon.

“There’s just one year and six months between the oldest and the youngest players here,” explains Moss. “We don’t have a coach but it’s not an issue. We’ve shown with good karma, good communication and trust that we can be successful.

“We are a group that works together, who talk things over when things need discussing. Nobody puts themselves before the team.

“Never is there a moment of bad feeling, it helps because we know each other so well. Of course there are times where someone is disappointed or frustrated – that’s human – and some take longer to get over losing than others. We give them space to get over it… as long as they’re ready for the next game.”

Moss, extreme right, celebrates as Denmark lift the Euro Beach title this summer

The Rødby success story continues to reap results on a national level. Moss and Rødby teammate Villumsen were among the Denmark squad that celebrated a historic gold at this summer’s Beach Euro in Stare Jablonki – the first time the Danes had won the European Beach title.

Moss, who is also filling in as a coach for a Danish women’s team, Odder Håndbold, at the Champions Cup, is doing all he can to raise the profile of the sport with an eye on competing at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“I have a growing passion for this sport,” he says. “I want beach handball to succeed and grow. Next year we will find out whether it will become an Olympic sport in time for Paris and I will do everything I can to make that happen.

“Every person who watches the sport sees how great it is. How fast it is, how fun it is. It’s only 20 minutes but it’s 20 minutes where you have to concentrate for every single second. It’s so intense. It’s not like any other sport. It has a great future if we allow it to grow.”

Fairy tales do exist and the Danes are pretty good at writing them.

So if there’s a new chapter written in Paris, and Moss is standing with a medal around his neck, you can be sure he will be smiling and thinking back to where it all began in 2013 and toasting the Rødby Beach Boys.


TEXT: EHF/ab
 
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