NEWS REPORT: 2013 EBT Finals winner BM. Playa de Alcalá is back for repeat success this weekend in Greece and are training hard on their artificial court over 400 km away from the nearest beach
Beach champions from a city without a beach
Spain is a country with a lovely food, climate and beaches. For that reason is normal to think that one of the best beach handball clubs in the world is Spanish. However, current European Beach Tour champion BM. Playa de Alcalá is from a town without a beach.
The nearest beach to Alcalá de Henares is 400 kilometres away, but it is not a problem for this club, they simply created their own.
BM. Playa de Alcalá was founded in 1997 ahead of the first Spanish Championship, making it the oldest club in Spain. They represented Alcalá University and won bronze in the first event.
The team converted their handball court into a beach handball court, changing the area lines for training. In only 2 years, Playa de Alcalá managed to enter seven teams in the Spanish Championship: five men’s teams and two women’s.
Little by little the team grew, and in 2005 took silver at the EBT Finals.
Juan Carlos Zapardiel (Zapa) is, currently, the President of BM. Playa de Alcalá and Technical Handball Beach Manager of Spanish Handball Federation (RFEBM). He was the man who encouraged people to play beach handball and create the club in the first place.
“We wanted to sign up to the first Spanish Championship in Benalmádena and we achieved third place. Since then, we have not stopped promoting beach handball, and currently we are the European Champions.
“Firstly we decided to create a tournament. We asked to the Alcalá de Henares Council to build a beach handball court and they accepted. From that moment we have begun to win and people began to know us, and the club began to grow,” said Zapa.
Jaime “Jimmy” Fernández is the player-coach of the team. He experienced the development of Playa de Alcalá from within the team.
“This club is always familiar. 90% of the players are from our city and we never make transfers. We play handball to promote that sport In Alcalá, but without aiming for titles, only for travel, to stay with friends and enjoy the summer.
“Everybody says that it is strange that the best beach handball team is from a city without a beach. But I say that we have the best venue to train at in our country, because we have very soft sand, which helps us to play better in other venues with more compacted sand,” explained Jimmy.
The team won trophies every season and little by little it became in one of the best teams of Spain and Europe. The biggest achievement for Playa de Alcalá came on 30 June 2013, when they won the EBT Finals in Umag, Croatia against Detono Zagreb. Next weekend they will be looking to repeat that success in Greece.
“Is very difficult to win the championship again, because the rest of the teams are very good and we are in the group of death,” concluded Fernández, who leads his team among Europe’s top 10 teams on 30 May – 1 June in Thessaloniki.
TEXT: Adria Barrio / cor
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