Ahead of the start of the 6th European Beach Handball Championships, eurohandball.com talks to Beach Commission chairman, Laszlo Sinka, about the future of this young sport.
With the 6th European Beach Handball Championships set to begin on Tuesday 23 June in Larvik, Norway, the focus of Europe’s handball players and fans turns from the indoor game to the newest version of the sport, Beach Handball.
Whereas once the end of the traditional indoor season would mean the start of the summer break, it now signals the start of the Beach Handball season, as more and more of the continent’s players try their hand at the 4 versus 4 game, competing during the summer months in a growing number of tournaments and leagues across the continent.
First played in Italy in the 1980’s, Beach Handball may be a young sport, but it is a sport with ambition according to the chairman of the European Handball Federation’s Beach Commission, Laszlo Sinka from Hungary.
“We have a clear goal,” he told eurohandball.com, “we want beach handball to become an Olympic sport.”
The EHF’s Beach Commission, also comprising Marco Trespidi (ITA), Ole Jorstad (NOR) and Koray Akguloglu (TUR) and George Bebetos (GRE), was created only in September last year thanks to the support of a majority of the European nations at the EHF Congress in Vienna, and sees the rapid development of the sport over the next few years.
“We have a long term plan to promote and develop the sport,” said Sinka, “this is a new competitive sport, quite different in characteristic to the indoor game, and I see no reason why we won’t see professional leagues and players in the future.”
The European Beach Handball Championships are a catalyst for this growth. Thirty six teams competed in the 2007 edition of the championship in Misano, Italy, and last year the first youth beach championships were held in Nagyatád, Hungary.
Beach Handball moves North
According to Sinka, this promotion of the sport was also one of the reasons the EHF decided to bring the beach championship to Norway, away from its traditional home on the beaches of Southern Europe.
“Norway was of course a natural choice,” said Sinka. “It is one of the leading handball nations in the world, and we knew from past European and World Championships held in the country that the organisation of the event would be perfect.”
“But for us the development of Beach Handball is also important, and we wanted to bring the game to Scandinavia, for them to experience this great game for themselves.”
Join the Beach Party!
The first matches of the 6th European Beach Handball Championships throw off at 10.00 am on Tuesday and handball fans can follow all the action live and in person completely free of charge.
Entry to the Larvik Beach Handball Arena is free of charge, and with 2,400 seats on the centre court as well as seating on courts two and three, there is plenty of space for fans.
Follow the action on-line too, Norway's TV2 will broadcast live from centre court throughout the championship via their website.
The EHF Beach Team will also keep you up to date via the eurohandball.com and our new Twitter service.
TEXT: JJ Rowland
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