The International Olympic Committee (IOC) added three new sports at the Youth Olympics, which already take effect at this coming Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. One of these sports is Beach Handball and Australia is a hot contestant to send a junior team to South America.
The road to Buenos Aires goes through a couple of qualification stages. Firstly, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has to shortlist 4 sports for each boys and girls to see which sports Australia qualifies. Beach Handball is on that list and so far the teams are going strong. As Allira Hudson-Gofers, the juniors national coach and representative of Handball Australia explains: “The International Handball Federation (IHF) qualification pathway was first to place[our teams] in the top 2 in Oceania, which our boys won undefeated and the girls lost their final so made them the second qualifier as runners-up”.
The next qualifying step is the U17 World Championships in Mauritius from 11-16 July 2017. Hudson- Gofers mentions: “We need to be the top Oceania team there. Once qualified, the Australian Olympic Committee chooses from among the 4 shortlist depending on what other sports end up qualifying.”
Even though the team is going strong, the Australian beach teams are on the lookout for more players. “We are looking for 3 more boys and 4 girls,” said Allira Hudson-Gofers. To do so, a junior beach selection camp is held over the weekend of the 3-4 June in Brighton Le Sands in NSW. Allira also says: “If they want to be considered for selection they must turn up to this camp.” Therefore, if any 14-17 year old is interested representing Australia in beach handball, we are interested hearing of them. This is a once off chance to get into an up and coming sport, which we
hope will soon be also represented at the Olympic Games. For more information, contact your state handball association or Handball Australia directly.
For anyone else, who is interested to see what Beach Handball is all about, the women’s national team are having a training camp in Melbourne on the 17-18 June and train at South Melbourne beach. Spectators are welcome and any support is greatly appreciated.