FEATURE: Following an eight-year absence German men's and women's teams will be again part of the European Beach Handball Championships
German handball returns to the sand
It is truly a new start: Since 2007 German teams have not been participating at major international tournaments, with lacking financial support being one of the reasons for the absence.
This June and July the federation heads for a new beginning as German teams have been registered for the upcoming European Beach Handball Championships at Lloret de Mar – a men’s and a women’s team for the senior event from 30 June to 5 July and a women’s team only for the under-19 event from 26 to 28 June.
Kai Bierbaum and Konrad Bansa have taken over the coaches’ positiosn in the men’s team.
They both were the goalkeepers at the Beach Handball World Championship 2006.
"We feel this huge anticipation among our players. For us as players those major tournaments were unforgettable experiences, now we are back in the scene," says Bansa.
For both coaches the most important task was recruiting players for the new beginning. In 2014, the German Beach Handball Tour was played again and two German clubs also participated at tournaments of the European Beach Handball Tour.
"We started to contact potential players and selected them from the club squads, but to start a full recruitment process, we will need some more years," says Bansa.
"It is really important for the biggest handball federation in the world to be back on the beaches. We are far behind all the opponents in terms of development and in engaging young people for beach handball."
For the upcoming championship Bansa’s expectations range between determination and modesty: "We are not just going there as tourist, just to say that we are part of the event, but it is too early to predict how far we can go."
The men’s team will face top nations like Croatia, Spain, Ukraine as well as Sweden and Poland in their preliminary round, the women face Serbia, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Poland and Russia when the tournament throws off in Lloret de Mar.
The women’s team is coached by Denise Westhäusler, who had been an official and coach in Australian beach Handball for some years while staying at Perth.
Also for her the major task is to build a team for the European Championships and the not-so-distant future, hence her objectives for the Lloret event are quite humble: “We have to see where we are compared to our opponents. We are new, it is more important to have a long-term strategy,” she says.
The biggest hopes for a successful event are carried on the shoulders of the German under-19 team, coached by Alexander Novakovic and Manfred Königsmann.
Their team was the only one which had a real selection camp end of May. And eventually one big name will represent Germany in Lloret de Mar: Lucie Kretzschmar, the daughter of legendary German left wing Stefan Kretschmar.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
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