Paradžik: ‘An intense year’
18 Jan. 2023
Voting is still open for 'The World Games Team of the Year 2022' award.
Vote here: https://www.theworldgames.org/awards/Team-of-the-Year-2022-109
The all-conquering Croatian men's beach handball team are one of the candidates for the award, which is presented by the International World Games Association (IWGA) and recognises the 'Best of the Best' who competed at The World Games 2022, held in Birmingham, USA, last year.
The nomination is a recognition of their win of the 2022 IHF Men's Beach Handball World Championship in Heraklion, Greece, in June, the 2022 IWGA World Games in Birmingham, USA, in July and the first stage of the IHF Beach Handball Global Tour, held in Gdansk, Poland, in between.
"2022 could not have been better for Croatian beach handball," said Croatian men's beach handball coach Mladen Paradžik to ihf.info about a whirlwind past 12 months.
"In addition to the senior men's success, our men's youth team won gold at the 2023 IHF Men's Youth Beach Handball World Championships, and our women's team qualified for the upcoming 2023 EHF Women's European Championship."
Now, in 2023, his side – and beach handball – are once again in the global limelight with an opportunity to be voted 'The World Games Team of the Year 2022'.
But for Paradžik it is bigger than his team.
"It is a great honour for us to be nominated for the IWGA award, as this is a perfect way to promote the sport itself," said the coach.
"If someone then discovers beach handball for themselves through the media announcements of the award, then our goals are definitely achieved. It's a special moment for the sport itself, as we all cannot wait to see it as part of the Olympic Games. From that point of view, we can only be proud and grateful to be nominated for this award."
The golden June and July in Europe and North America last year for Croatia came after the sport had experienced an elongated global break due to COVID-19, with only continental events previously taking place since the pandemic spread around the world.
And then all of a sudden the teams had a packed, global calendar.
"The past year was very intense for us," added Paradžik. "We had to change our ways of thinking and behaving, but perhaps the pandemic just helped us realise how much we miss sports and other daily activities.
"The first training sessions after the pandemic were definitely something special, and then we had those three competitions scheduled close together. It was a challenge to organise days off for the players and fit all the technical and organisational pieces into one puzzle.
"But we have to get used to it. Beach handball is more and more recognised and is becoming an integral part of multisport events, which means that we can expect even more competitions in the future."
Paradžik was also quick to praise not only those on the sand with the ball in their hands, but also the team behind the team, behind-the-scenes.
"I have to thank not only the players and officials who did their job on the court, but also the entire extended Croatian beach handball team, which consists of 10-15 humble people who work really hard to solve the organisational puzzle every year," he explained.
"The unity of these beach handball enthusiasts, players and officials made it possible for us to achieve the results we did last year. We also had great support from our Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Croatian Olympic Committee and Croatian Handball Federation, and all the conditions for a good season were there."
That good season saw that triple crown of titles with The World Games gold meaning a complete, full set for the Croatian men's beach team.
"The World Games title was the icing on the cake of the season," said Paradžik. "It was the first time Croatia won it, and as this championship is held every four years, it is a special feeling to wear the gold medal around your neck.
"It also came on a special anniversary, as it was 20 years after our men's team appeared for the very first time, at the 2002 EHF Men's European Beach Handball Championships in Cádiz, Spain. The medal in the USA is a nice reminder of all the great players and officials who contributed to put Croatia on the world map of beach handball in these 20 years.
"It is very important for us because in this way we can not only promote the sport itself at the highest level, but also promote our beautiful country and create friendships within the beach handball community, which is also very important for a small nation and country like Croatia."
How to vote
If you are a fan of the team, players, beach handball or handball, show your support by voting, following these steps – and tell a friend, too.
1. Visit the IWGA voting page: https://www.theworldgames.org/awards/Team-of-the-Year-2022-109
2. Go to the Croatia men's team/beach handball picture.
3. Click on 'Vote' – Croatia will receive two votes.
4. Choose a second candidate and click 'Vote'
5. Do this once every 24 hours (you are only allowed to vote once every 24 hours).
6. From 22 January at 12:00 GMT, the 10 highest-ranked candidates will continue. All candidates will restart with 0 votes.
7. Repeat the process above until 31 January at 12:00 GMT.
8. Once you have voted, share your vote on your social media channels using the hashtag #beachhandball and tell all your friends to vote for the Croatia men's beach handball team.
For more information, visit here.