The Norwegian Handball Federation sees the success of the Beach Euro as a springboard for the sport's future development.
The Norwegian Handball Federation took a gamble when it bid to host the European Beach Handball Championships.
Bringing a relatively new sport to a country better known for its indoor handball traditions, at a time of the year when the weather could not be guaranteed was certainly a risk.
“Well, yes, some people did think we were a little mad,” said Per Otto Furuseth, General Secretary of the Norwegian Handball Federation, when eurohandball.com caught up with him on the final day of the Main Round.
“But these championships really have been fantastic,” he said, “it proves we made the right decision.
“There really couldn’t have been any better introduction to the sport for Norway,” he said.
Developing Beach Handball
Beach Handball has been played in Norway for the past decade, and this year the Norwegian Cup, to be played in Sandefjord, enters its eighth year but it is still a new sport to the Norwegian public and media.
In the Larvik area alone there are some 1000 estimated beach players and over 7000 players have been involved in the sport since its introduction.
“We need to do more to develop the sport in Norway,” said Furuseth, “and we’re making plans to invest more in the sport.”
One idea the national federation is considering is the purchase of grandstands to ensure that future events can replicate the impressive temporary set-up at the Larvik Beach Arena.
“We bid for these championships as a starting point for future development,” says Furuseth.
“We have invested a great deal in the championship, but this is a long term investment, and we are sure that it will pay dividends in the future for our sport.”
Handball all year
Furuseth predicts that Beach Handball can bring real benefits to the whole of the sport.
“I see Beach Handball as an additional activity to indoor handball, and this means we can play handball in some form 12 months of the year, and better compete with other sports like football and volleyball.”
He continued: “I think the beach game will also bring new ideas to indoor handball, Beach Handball is a very quick game, there’s no bouncing, no time to think about the next move, this can only be good for the future development of our sport.”
Furuseth, who is also a member of the event’s organising committee, is of course following the event closely, especially the progress of the two Norwegian teams.
“Our women are one of the top three in these championships,” he said. “They have players, who have played at the very top level in indoor handball, who also love playing Beach Handball.”
Per Otto Furuseth does not have long to wait to see if his teams make the finals of the Beach Euro. Norway’s men and women have both qualified for the Quarter Finals, which will be played in Larvik on Saturday, 27 June.
TEXT: JJ Rowland
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