First ever Beach Handball discussion was held at the venue of the Jarun Lake ahead of the European Senior Championship. International handball experts and Croatian players spoke about the EURO and the popularization of the beach handball which became an Olympic sport . Also, the important topic in this discussion was growing interest for beach handball. Guests were Ole Jorstad, Thomas Schoeneich, Eric Quintin, Ivan Jurić and Josipa Grebenar.

Ole Jorstad, Chairman of the Beach Handball Commission and member of the Executive Committee of the European Handball Federation (EHF) commended Croatia being the first country that has hosted European Championship for the second time. “We always expect well organized events and last time in Umag was extraordinary. The expectations for the upcoming EURO are big”, Jorstad said.

Croatian women’s player Josipa Grebenar continued discussion with few thoughts about Croatian women’s team and her favorites. “Croatia has a great team in the women’s event. We need to be careful with Spain, Norway and Denmark. Italy and Ukraine also have very good teams. The competition is getting more stronger every year”.

Ivan Jurić, captain of the Croatian men’s team added: “There will be 14 teams in the men’s event and ten of them can beat each other. We need to work hard to reach the fight for the medals. My favorites beside Croatia are Russia, Spain, Hungary, Ukraine and Denmark. The improvement is seen through the teams’ physical and tactical preparations”.

French teams will debute at this Championship. Eric Quintin, the head coach of the U19 French men’s team and the technical manager of the Beach Handball in the French Handball Federation talked about how everything started. “The story started 22 years ago in an unusual way. People just started to play and they were happy to play just for fun. But, in my heart something was missing. For me, this weekend was crazy good to see young people playing and enjoying beach handball. I am happy because France finally became the part of the Beach Handball family”, Quintin was excited.

Thomas Schoeneich, EHF Beach EURO Media Manager talked about the promotion of the beach handball and growing of the media interest. “Indoor handball players who also play on the sand courts are very attractive for the public. But, we must not forget that we have fantastic players already in this sport, for example Russian player Kalashnikov who is amazing. In other words, we need to use the existing stars to promote beach handball because they are excellent and have specific skills that indoor players do not have”, Schoeneich pointed.

All guests agree that it is very important to attract and include smaller nations in the beach handball, but also to keep big handball nations in it. Therefore, Danish and German comeback on the EURO is meaningful for beach handball community. Josipa Grebenar emphasized: “Beach handball needs to be promoted through the handball schools and clubs. Croatian Handball Association and others need to educate young people and coaches, connect everything. Maybe, attracting people by using indoor handball stars would be helpful”.

Beach handball will be played at the Youth Olympic Games 2018. This brought the question when will beach handball become an Olympic sport in seniors. The idea that is worth discussing about introduces the indoor handball as a part of the Winter Olympic Games, while the beach handball would be a part of the Summer Olympic Games.

At the end, Thomas Schoeneich concluded: “We need to check where are we now, it is great to see beach handball family growing. All of us need to keep pushing on all levels so beach handball could reach the highest level of professionalism”.

Photo credit: Uroš Hočevar/EHF