PREVIEW: The largest Beach Handball European Championship to date throws off in the Portuguese town of Nazaré with 16 men's and 16 women's teams vying for the under-16 title
32 teams hit the beach at Nazaré 2016
The Beach Handball EURO enters new ground on Friday with 32 teams hitting the beach in the Portuguese town of Nazaré from Friday to Sunday (8 to 10 July) to vie for the under-16 title - never before has a beach handball championship attracted so many teams.
This is the first European Beach Handball Championship at this level, and given the amount of teams seeking their chance for glory in the sand, naming the favourites is arguably difficult.
However, it is likely that teams like Croatia, Spain and Hungary - all of them very successful on the senior level - will also be among the medal contenders in the men's event.
Hungary and Spain are also the teams to be counted on in the women's event. It remains to be seen whether Germany, whose under-19 squad won bronze at the European Championships in Lloret de Mar last year, send another strong team to Nazaré. Traditionally, Italy are also quite strong in women's beach handball.
And, of course, the power of the hosts, Portugal, should not be underestimated; neither in the women's nor in the men's event.
Over the three days of the tournament, the EHF offers all beach handball fans plenty of opportunities to follow the event.
All matches of Court 1 and Court 2 will be streamed live on the ehfTV Youtube channel. This coverage will be supplemented by a number of highlight and best of-clips from the event which will also be available on Youtube as well as on the beach handball Facebook page.
The Olympics at the horizon
Part of the reason for the number of participating team might very well be the fact that an Olympic participation is beckoning.
The top four finishers from in the men's and the women's event will qualify for the IHF U17 World Championship in 2017.
From there, the top three European nations at the World Championship will then qualify to play in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina as beach handball makes its debut in the competition programme.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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