On the eve of the European Championships 2015, eurohandball.com talked to Ole Jorstad, the Chairman of the EHF's Beach Handball Commission, about the possibilities to further develop the sport - and the Norwegian hints that an inclusion of the sport in the next European Games is one of his major goals
Bringing beach handball to Europe
They are the ninth European Beach Handball Championships that have thrown off in Lloret de Mar on Tuesday.
15 years ago, in 2000, the first tournament was staged in Italy and while Ole Jorstad acknowledges that the sport has come a long way since, he stresses at the same time that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"The European Championships are being taken more seriously, and the standards have also increased. I can see that we have more and more nations joining the beach handball family.
"The basics have been laid, we are at a good stage and we are ready to take a huge step," Jorstad told eurohandball.com on the eve of Lloret 2015.
"At the moment there is not that much money in beach handball. In one way or the other we need more TV coverage and we need more sponsors. If you can generate more money, you can also develop the sport further."
One of the positive signs in the lead-up to this tournament was the return of Germany to the sand, as the German Handball Federation registered teams again for the first time since 2007.
The step was rewarded almost instantly as the women's under-19 team won bronze on the final day of the Junior European Championships on Sunday.
"The fact that Germany is back is really important for us and that they took the bronze in the women's junior event was a positive sign because now I'm sure that many from the German handball family know about this bronze medal - and I hope this will open a new market."
For the Norwegian chairman it is important that the sport continues to grow and develop - something that relates not only to market share and visibility, but also to the rules that govern it.
Hence the federation's approach to award three points (instead of the usual two) for in-flight goals at the junior's tournament.
"Every sport every now and then needs a new dimension and we need to give it something new. If you are not developing the rules, you will become boring after a while - and this was one of the reasons why changed the rules for inflight goals, and the test was really successful," said Jorstad.
While the International Handball Federation has the Olympic perspective in mind and stated publicly that they aim for turning beach handball into an Olympic sport by 2024, Jorstad focuses on Europe and at another Olympic event that is only four years away.
"We should focus to bring beach handball to the second edition of the European Games in 2019. It will be a new step for us, if we make it to the European Games. Last year we introduced the Champions Cup, and this would be the next huge step for us," he says.
For Lloret 2015 Jorstad is positive that everyone watching will be rewarded with exciting matches.
"We can expect a lot fo tight matches. Today I cannot put any money on who will be the winners of this championship. Teams that were strong in the past will be among the top teams again. But who will be the winner, I don't know."
Listen to the full interview with Ole Jorstad, Chairman of the EHF's Beach Handball Commission.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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