The 2016 Australian Beach Handball Championships will be held at Coolangatta Beach this week, beginning 25 February. The four-day tournament will see the best players from across Australia, in over 30 teams, competing for the national title.
This year the Australia Championships will coincide with the Oceanic Beach Handball Championships, which will see teams from across the Tasman competing in qualifiers for the World Championships in Hungary in July 2016.
Despite being a relatively new sport Australian Women’s Beach Handball coach Boris Mensing believes the International Handball Federation’s (IHF) push to see Beach Handball in the Olympic Games has seen it rise in popularity.
“Beach Handball is being included in the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires and the IHF is working towards making Beach Handball an Olympic sport by 2024,” he said.
The Australian women’s team has prepared for the World Championship qualifiers with monthly training camps being held in recent months.
“The players’ skill levels are constantly improving, which will enable us to put a very strong and competitive team forward to play the qualifiers against New Zealand.” Mensing explained.
Friederike Graser, Event Coordinator from the Queensland National Beach Handball Committee says that like T20 cricket, the shorter format of the game makes it more appealing to a wider audience. “Unlike indoor Handball, games are played for just 20 minutes on the sand, making for a fast-paced and action-packed spectacle.”
In Beach Handball, extra points are awarded for particularly spectacular goals such as those scored in-flight, with a 360-degree spin, through a penalty shot or by the goalkeeper.