FEATURE: A new beach handball competition sees the light of day this weekend, as reigning European Beach Handball Tour champions Detono Zagreb, regard the inaugural Champions Cup in Gran Canaria as an important factor for the development of the sport
Detono Zagreb set for a new challenge
It is a well-known fact that Croats have a knack for playing excellent handball. Talented players, teams and coaches have for many years filled the trophy cabinets with some of the highest accolades available, including Olympic and World Championship gold.
But the success Croatian teams enjoyed on the regular indoor courts has at times overshadowed the heroics their compatriots displayed on a somewhat smaller, sand-filled pitch.
From late spring to early autumn beach handball has become more and more popular with fans and players alike, and Croatia, being the current European as well as vice world champions on the national team level, is also the home of on of the strongest clubs in the sport: BHC Detono Zagreb.
This beach handball club has done well to reach the heights of both domestic and European beach handball during their eight years of existence.
Both men’s and women’s team represent an indomitable force in the Croatian championship, while the men’s team regained the European Beach Handball Tour champions’ title this summer.
BHC Detono Zagreb have succeeded to make a considerable mark in the competition, lifting the coveted trophy on five occasions.
It is now up to the five-time champions to try and extend their legacy, as a new competition, the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup, throws off on 31 October 31 in Gran Canaria.
Favourites in both categories
The newly established Champions Cup brings a new competition format to the table, which will serve to put an emphasis on the importance of the domestic championships and increase competition.
As its name suggests, the Champions Cup will be a showdown of the very best Europe has to offer, and will be reserved only for the national champions. Croatia will be represented in both the men’s and women’s category by BHC Detono Zagreb teams.
"It is a very good decision from the EHF to organise this competition. It will extend the beach handball season, which is a remarkable thing for this fast-developing sport," said Mario Mocilac, BHC Detono Zagreb coach to Balkan Handball.
BHC Detono Zagreb is considered to be among the favourites to lift the trophy in both categories, with a successful season behind them.
Men’s Detono team almost seems to be like a safe bet given their skills and experience, while the trophy hunger of the women’s team, who finished third in this year’s European Beach Handball Tour might just prove a big enough motivation to take the next step and enter the final.
"This competition has produced many participants which are unknown to us. It’s good that we do not start first. It will give us a chance to check out on the opposition," says Mario Mocilac.
Lined up against the very best
Women’s BHC Detono Zagreb team’s road to the semi-final will line them against group rivals Academia De Leiria (Portugal), Bruder Ismaning (Germany), BHT Piotrkowianin (Poland), as well as the reigning European Beach Handball Tour champions, the OVB Beach Girls from Hungary.
However, Detono’s women have already shown they are up to the quality of the reigning champions, defeating the Hungarian powerhouse in Thessaloniki, the ebt Finals Group Phase at the end of May.
In the men’s competition the Zagreb men, aptly nicknamed the “Detonators”, will have to endure the challenge of SKKM Ekaterinodar (Russia), Kiklopes Alexandopouli (Greece), V.Gaw/Cafe Rossio (Portugal), and Pallamano Grosseto (Italy).
"Our goal always remains the same for both teams. We will try to win the tournament and fortify the status Croatian beach handball has in Europe. It is our goal, but also our duty," says Mocilac.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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