NZ at the 2018 Australian Beach Handball Championships
Last week, 33 teams descended onto the sand at Glenelg Beach, Adelaide SA to compete in the annual Australian Beach Handball championships. As a founding member of the Wellington Parrots, I joined 28 other New Zealanders for our third time attending the tournament.
The Wellington Parrots contingent
For those unfamiliar with the sport, beach handball is a fast-paced team sport similar to Olympic handball but played on sand, where players aim to pass the ball around the court and score in the opposing team’s goal. It is played in sets, and a team must win two sets to win the game. If the score at the end of the first two sets is 1–1, then a third penalty shootout set is played to decide the winner. Goals scored are awarded either one point or two, depending on whether the goal is deemed as ‘spectacular’. Spectacular goals are defined as either a 360° spin shot, or an alley-oop (also known as a kempa) where a player catches the ball in the air and shoots before they land.
With 11 teams in each of the three competitions (men’s, women’s and mixed) competition was fierce. Our three Wellington teams attending had been training since November preparing to face the strong Australian sides.
After an unplanned overnight stay in Melbourne (thanks ex-cylone Gita), we arrived in Adelaide on the morning of the tournament just in time for the first games. After two days the Wellington men’s team and one of the Wellington women’s teams made it through to the top six. The semifinals were on the third day and medal prospects were looking likely; the men had made it to the final and my women’s team were playing off for bronze!
Finals day came along, and after two hard-fought sets we had our 3rd place finish. The men also had an amazing game, winning both sets for the gold medal. For the first time, the Wellington Parrots had managed to medal in both the men’s and women’s competitions after only three years of playing beach handball and attending the tournament. Spirits were very high that evening!
Glenelg held both the Club Champs and the Ocean Qualifiers. Three countries competed in the qualifiers for World Champs. In the men’s competition, Australia beat New Zealand in both games with two straight sets. In the women’s, a new competitor attended this year — American Samoa’s U17 team — who narrowly beat New Zealand, yet lost to Australia. Both Australian teams will be heading to Russia for World Champs later this year.
New Zealand Men’s and Women’s teams sing the national anthem