FEATURE: The training conditions are somehow awkward for women's defending champions Skrim Kongsberg, but the Norwegians are determined to produce yet another top podium finish when the Beach Handball Champions Cup throws off
Skrim Kongsberg fight the cold in quest for title defence
Bent Dahl, the head coach of Skrim Kongsberg, expects a tough challenge when he is taking his team to Gran Canaria this week where the second edition of the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup takes place from 5 to 8 November.
The team from a Norwegian city with a population of just above 25,000 are the women’s defending champions, but Dahl admits that the conditions to prepare for a beach handball championship are not exactly the best in Scandinavia at this time of the year.
Last Friday, when the author contacted Dahl, the temperature at Kongsberg stood at 6 degrees Celsius – nothing that will make any women want to appear outdoors in a bikini.
“At this time of year, the climate is a challenge to a team located where we are,” says Dahl . “We practiced a lot this summer, played at the Norwegian Championship and at other competitions, but lately, we have not had the best conditions to prepare for the tournament, so I expect a difficult task.
“However, this is not only due to our weather conditions,” continues Dahl. “It is also due to the fact, that some of our opponents have become stronger.
“We have teams from Hungary (OVB-Beach Girls) and Croatia (BHC Dubrava) in our preliminary round group, and I know that beach handball in these two countries has been developing a lot lately
“Germany (who are represented by Strandgeflüster Minden) have given a lot more priority to beach handball lately, than they used to, so I’m sure that we are in for some tough opposition.”
The other teams in Skrim Kongsberg’s group are Beachqueens from Switzerland and the Portuguese side 100 Ondas / N. Belchior.
The four best teams of Groups A and B proceed to the quarter-finals.
Sending a very strong team
Despite the somehow awkward working conditions and the team’s rivals, Bent Dahl remains rather optimistic. He feels that he is taking a very strong team with him to Spain.
“We have made a few changes compared to the team who won the competition last year, but we still have a very strong team.
“In fact, we have some of the best beach handball players in the world, and that is also the reason, why beach handball has such a high priority within our club, and why it would mean a lot to us to win the championship once again.
“It is also a great honour to us to represent Norwegian women’s beach handball on the international stage this way, and this is just another reason, why we are determined to give the best we possibly can.
“It was really a big deal for us to win the competition last year, and we would obviously like to experience that again,” says Dahl.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
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