NEWS REPORT: The French Handball Federation hosts its first beach handball tournament at the beginning of July. And eurohandball.com has asked why did it take so long for them to discover the sport?
France embarks on its first beach handball adventure
Is it possible that you are the current world and Olympic champions but your portfolio of teams misses one for beach handball? That is exactly the situation in which the French Handball Federation finds itself in.
However, this void is soon to be filled since the FFHB will put its first beach handball squads in action in less than a month time when it hosts a beach handball tournament in Montalivet in the Atlantic coast.
They will partly use the foundations that have been built around Sandball – a game similar to beach handball and a popular summer sport. “We are starting from zero, but we have people to rely on,” explains Jean-Louis Guichard who will be the head of delegation. “We've discussed this with many people all over Europe to in order to get advice. Eric Quintin, who is in charge of all the national teams, is our main man in this matter. He has been around handball and beaches for so many years!”
The tournament in Montalivet will include four to six teams as well as the new French women’s and men’s national teams.
The way to popularise beach handball? Putting Gille and Nicolas in charge
To start the beach handball adventure, the French federation has chosen two ambitious and well-known coaches to lead the two teams: Bertrand Gille will take care of the men’s side while Valérie Nicolas will be in charge of the women.
“The occasion was there and we just had to grab it,” explains Guichard. “Of course, it's better for us if there are some known faces in the boat with us, but we weren't desperately looking for names.”
And on the court – so it has been hinted – fans will probably recognise some players, too, even though names cannot be revealed for now.
“The first division clubs have been very helpful so far, so whomever we wanted to come will be coming for sure,” Guichard says. And Eric Quintin gives a few clues about whom to expect on the beach. “We're in contact with a couple of former internationals who have stopped playing, as well as with some spectacular players who are still in their prime.”
Swimming, no diving
With such a promising roster what can be expected? "We have started to build the foundation and now we are adding to this piece by piece,” explains the FFHB’s national handball director Philipe Bana.
“For now, this is just a one-off,” adds Jean-Louis Guichard. “This is us trying to find out what we're able to realise in terms of budget, of organisation. We are blind for now, but these kind of events should help us know where we are at exactly.”.
If this first try is successful, the French federation aims to send a team to Wroclaw where in 2017 the World Games will take place. The next step would then be registering squads for the official EHF and IHF events. “It would have been risky to dive into this head-first without knowing if we're able to swim,” says Eric Quintin.
TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
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