Beach handball sets to take centerstage at ANOC World Beach Games

Doha, Despite being one of the new comers” to the world stage, beach handball is rapidly gaining traction globally and the sport will be one of the major centerpieces as the maiden edition of the ANOC World Beach Games, also known as Qatar 2019, kicks off on October 12 in Doha.

Beach handball, whose first major international competition, the Beach Handball World Championships, was held as recent as 2004, is one of the major team sports of Qatar 2019.

At the draw ceremony held in August, hosts Qatar were drawn in Group B of the men’s competition, alongside Croatia, Hungary, Spain, Uruguay and Tunisia while Group A threw up Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Oman, United States and Australia as contestants. For the women’s event, the draw placed Brazil, Denmark, Hungary, Argentina, USA and Tunisia in Group A, while Group B comprises Greece, Spain, Poland, China, Australia and Vietnam.

Beach handball, which made its first Olympic appearance at the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, traces its history back to a small island in Ponza in the southern Italian region where it began to emerge as an interesting sport on the beaches of the region towards the end of the 1980s. The Italian coach Simonetta Montagni was the first to begin developing handball on the beach at about the same time as the players in the Netherlands began experimenting with the new trend sport.

Egypt emerged the first world champions of the sport after defeating Turkey 2-1 on home-soil at the inaugural edition of the World Championships staged in El Gouna in 2004.

The first European Championships was held in Gaeta, Italy in 2000 with Belarus emerging the winner after defeating Spain 2-1 in the final.

In Asia, the sport made its maiden appearance on the continental level at the 2008 Asian Beach Games in Bali where the men’s event was won by Pakistan, with Kuwait and Thailand taking the silver and bronze medals respectively. For the women’s event, China nicked the gold while silver and bronze went to Thailand and Chinese Taipei respectively.

Just like the conventional handball, beach handball is a team sport where two teams pass and bounce or roll a ball, trying to throw it in the goal of the opposing team but it is played on sand instead of in a sports hall, and because the ball loses most of its bounce on sand, there is little to no dribbling, and players instead perform more passing as the rule of traveling still applies.

During regular play, if the goalkeeper scores a goal this counts as two points, compared to a normal goal scored by an outfield player which counts as 1 point. Creative or spectacular goals, such as 360 degree jumps and alley-oops, are awarded with two points, as well as in-flights and 6 meter throws.

For Team Qatar, the horizon looks good for the men’s team, and Qatar 2019 is yet another opportunity for them to once again prove their mettle as the undisputed Kings of Asia” having being the dominant force in Asia and one of the top teams in the world.

The team have finished third twice at the IHF World Men’s Beach Handball Championship (2014 World Beach Championships in Brazil and the 2016 World Beach Championships in Hungary). The team also finished third at the 2017 World Games held in Wroclaw, Poland.

In Asia, the team have won the Asian Men’s Beach Handball Championship a record five times.

The Qatari beach handball team clinched the first of their series of trophies at the Championships with the defeat of host country Oman in 2011 at the Muscat tournament.

They again defeated now familiar foe Oman at the Hong Kong tournament in 2013 to lift their second trophy before repeating same feat against the same opponent in 2015, 2017 and 2019 at tournaments hosted by Muscat, Pattaya (Indonesia) and Weihai (China) respectively.

Since 2012, the team have remained the champions of the Asian Beach Games having won the event three times in a row – 2012 in Haiyang (China), 2014 in Phuket (Thailand) and 2016 in Danang (Vietnam).

Commenting on the team, Qatar Handball Federation President Ahmed al-Shaabi said, What our beach handball team have achieved, especially in Asia, is unprecedented. We are very proud of their past achievements and we are at the same time very confident of their performances at the ANOC World Beach Games. We are giving the team the maximum supports and we believe they will make our country proud at the historical event.”

Beach handball is one of the 14 sports featuring at the ANOC World Beach Games to be held from October 12 to 16 in Doha. All matches of the sport will be played at the Al Gharafa Stadium.

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee