FEATURE: The Spanish women's and men's team hope that their fans' support will carry them all the way to the podium, when the European Beach Handball Championships take place in Lloret de Mar from 30 June to 5 July
Spain enter the sand
It is the moment of truth for Spain. The European Beach Handball Championships take place in Lloret de Mar from 30 June to 5 July and the Spaniards are the tournament's host team.
The expectations are high in the women's as well as in the men's camp, as both teams want to see themselves on the podium come the event's final day.
Women's heach coach Dani Lara started building her team two years ago, when they finished 7th at the European Championships in Randers, Denmark.
A first improvement was already visible when the team came fifth at last year's World Championship in Brazil.
“We had to take it step by step,” says Lara. “First, in Randers, we had to establish a different model of game than the one they played in the clubs, because we wanted to play with fly-ins which is not an established model in our country.
“Our role model is Brazil. In Europe the teams are very physical with very tall players, and this is one of our deficiencies,” explains the head coach.
Her aim for Lloret 2015 is to get the team fit when it really matters.
"In the previous two championships we overly focussed on physical fitness and this eventually took its toll.
"The conclusion we drew from finishing seventh in 2013 was we trained very hard in the lead up but this exhausted us.
"At the World Championship we were struggling when it was about to get to the semi-finals, in this EURO we want to fight for the medals."
Dani Lara counts in particular on the fans' support at Lloret.
"Our team connects very well with the supporters. Playing at home is special. The team can be multiplied times 10."
Dreams and dedication
The men's team is coming with a new coach to Lloret: Jaime 'Jimmy' Fernández, who the 2013 ebt Finals with BM. Playa de Alcalá has taken over the team.
"I have been playing beach handball for 16 years and now I can pass all my experience as a player and everything I learned from my coaches to my players," he says.
Like for the women’s team, the key for Jimmy's men is technique and score with fly-in goals.
"Our team is a mix of veteran people and new players, and the idea is to play with fly-ins and a quick game to surprise the opponents' defence.
"The fly-in is not only spectacular, I think it is harder to defend a fly than a throw."
The Spanish team has some top-class names in their ranks: Juan Antonio 'Chispi' Vázquez the current top scorer of Asobal League with Puente Genil.
"Chispi is one of the world' best beach handball players. Whenever he plays, he is on of the top scorers at the tournament. He is the flagship of our team," says his coach.
After 5th ranks at the last EURO and the World Championship, the team wants a medal this time.
The players gave everything in the preparation and it was hard for me to decide the players who would come to the European Championship. Just judged by our game, dreams and dedication plus the fact that we play at home, we have to get a medal.”
The Spanish women are seeded in Group B with Norway, Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden, Montenegro and Spain. The men play against Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden and Germany.
TEXT: Adria Barrio / ts
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