Qatar men’s beach handball team travelled to southern California, USA to take part in a series of matches and training sessions last month as both teams enter their preparations for upcoming championships.
The Asian side are currently preparing for the 2018 IHF Beach Handball World Championships which will take place in Kazan, Russia. They are one of the most successful men’s beach handball teams in recent years as current Asian title holders and third-place finishes at both the 2016 IHF Beach Handball World Championships in Hungary and the 2017 World Games in Poland highlight.
Relative global beach handball newcomers USA are also in a preparation phase as they look towards the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships which will be held in the USA in March.
The training camp for Qatar and USA lasted from 23-30 November as the two teams went head-to-head together again for the first time since their July 2016 encounter in Hungary at the World Championship, which the Qataris won 2-0 (26:18, 26:17). It featured four joint training sessions and friendly matches as well as two exhibition matches in the beautiful surroundings of Hermosa Beach and in Oceanside, California – the location of the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships.
Qatar's delegation was chaired by Khalifa Taiseer, Assistant Secretary General – QHA who was accompanied by 12 players and technical staff members.
“Beach Handball in Asia is improving every year,” said Sidali Kennaoui, defensive specialist of Qatar’s national beach handball men’s team to the Team USA website. “You can see teams like Vietnam, who two years ago lost their games by large margins, are now much closer in score.
“We have previously gone to camps in Brazil and Croatia, and having contact with these teams has allowed our level to be a bit higher than other teams [in Asia].”
“The USA (Men’s) Beach Handball Team have improved a lot in the past two years,” he continued. “We wanted to learn from (USA Beach Handball) and for them to learn from us as well.”
As part of the camp, the Qatar delegation also took in a variety of tourist sites and watched a NBA game.
“They are one of the teams we look up to and admire on the world stage,” said Michael Hinson, Head Coach of the USA team.
“Qatar play they game the right way – the beautiful way – and having them here was an amazing experience that will help us moving forward as a programme, and a team, as we prepare for the Pan American Championships.”
For the USA right wing, and specialist, Ebiye Udo-Udoma, the week was more than just about playing on the sand. “It’s great getting to spend time with each other outside of IHF competitions where we can cultivate friendships and learn from one another,” he said. “There’s a real brotherhood in beach handball and we’re all on the same team as far as building the sport to the Olympic platform and beyond.”
“We have good relations with the USA Beach Handball Federation and they invited us over for the preparation,” said Ibrahim AL-Shahooz, International Affairs & Communications, Qatar Handball Association (QHA). “It is all about promoting beach handball.”