Oceania Beach Handball Titles
The 2016 Oceania Beach Handball Championship saw stunning wins and losses for Australia's finest, who competed against New Zealand from 24 to 28 February.
Held at Coolangatta Beach, the beach handball tournaments were a major draw both for locals and fans who travelled from far and wide to see one of the most fast-paced and rapidly developing sports in action.
What is beach handball?
Beach handball may be one of the newest sports on the scene, but its reputation in Australia and internationally is growing fast – to the point that it will feature in the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, with the possibility of full Olympic inclusion seemingly not far behind.
As its name suggests, beach handball is a variant of the indoor version of the sport, relocated to the sand. Six distinct forms of handball are recognised by the Australian Handball Federation, including field handball which made its Olympic debut in Berlin in 1934. It's not only Australia that's got the bug either, with national handball federations being registered in more than 183 countries.
There are several factors that make beach handball an appealing sport for competitors and spectators alike. As well as the chance to bask in the sun, the short (typically 20-minute) duration of matches means the action comes thick and fast, and as extra points are awarded for particularly acrobatic goals, players are encouraged to put on a sensational show.
Beach handball hits Coolangatta
It wasn't only the Oceania Beach Handball Championships that took place in Coolangatta this February, with the Australian Beach Handball Championships also sharing the spotlight. These combined events involved over 30 teams and 200 participants, not to mention the adoring crowds.
In the Oceania Championships, New Zealand's men's and women's teams pitted their skills against the Aussies on the Friday and Saturday afternoons, with the winning side going on to represent Oceania at July's World Championships in Budapest.
Australia's women's team won all four periods of both matches, thrashing their less experienced Kiwi counterparts 24:2, 20:5, 16:0 and 14:4.
The outcome was markedly different for Australia's men's team however, which only won one set to New Zealand's two. Nevertheless, combined with the women's triumph, this was enough to secure Australia's place at Budapest for the next stage of the tournament.
Get your beach handball essentials at The Strand
If you've been inspired by watching Australia and New Zealand's top players, you'll find everything you need to play beach handball just a short walk from Coolangatta Beach where the action happened.