Deputy Minister Avgenakis: “We will do everything to ensure beach handball will be accepted to the Olympic family”
20 Jun. 2022
Today marks the rest day between the end of the 2022 IHF Men’s and Women’s Youth Beach Handball World Championships which finished yesterday (Sunday 19 June) and the beginning of the 2022 IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball Championships which start tomorrow (Tuesday 21 June).
To celebrate the championships, a special media conference was held with a number of dignitaries attending earlier today.
They included Magda Kepesidou, 2018 IHF Women’s Beach Handball World Championship gold medallist amongst others, plus Lefteris Avgenakis, Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports for the Greek Government, who revealed how much the sport has had an effect on him.
Supporting the Olympic push
“I believe beach handball is ideal for the Greek people,” he said. “It wasn’t supported before by previous administrations, but we have a fantastic coopetition with the Hellenic (Greek) Handball Federation, great chemistry and this makes me believe that handball and beach handball can be developed more and our national teams will succeed in international competitions.”
During the media conference, Giampiero Masi, Chairman of the IHF Beach Handball Working Group revealed that the IHF will showcase the sport ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with a view to becoming included in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.
And it was put to the Deputy Minister, from the home of the Olympics, if he supported that push for inclusion in the Games.
“We don’t have any institutional role in this process,” he explained. “Personally, I like beach handball and I believe it should claim the Olympic status.
“Last October, Crete hosted the annual ANOC Congress. Representatives from 205 countries came here, along with the President of the IOC and the other members of the council and Presidents of the International sports federations.
“Following the relationship we have built with international sports officials, Greece now has a more powerful role at the international forums as does Mr Capralos (President of the European Olympic Committees).
“Within the frame of discussions and the developments occurring before a decision is made, I declare that we are supporting beach handball’s request and that we will do everything we can to ensure that beach handball will be accepted to the Olympic family.”
A legacy for beach sports
In his opening statements he expressed his new-found love for the sport and look ahead to future events at the newly-constructed venue.
“We got a new sport, beach handball, it’s a fantastic, spectacular sport,” he said. “I'm not only watching beach handball but after the athletes leave every night I'm also playing beach handball along with my friends. I invite people to come and watch this sport and ask them ‘why not start playing?”
“The Karteros Beach Sports Center will not only be the host venue for the beach volleyball national teams, it will also be the home for the beach handball national teams. Handball is always welcome here, we will always support it and we're expecting for that for them to give us back, nothing serious, two gold medals from the men and the women's teams here.
“The construction is not over,” he added. “More venues will be built in other areas as well in the same area and this will make this this venue, this centre, one of the biggest in the world.
“Crete, Heraklion will be an international sports hub thanks to these facilities and so Greece and Heraklion will be ready next year to host the very successful Mediterranean Beach Games.
“I am sure that everybody who will come and watch the world championships will be mesmerised that everyone is playing under the Fair Play rules. The players exchange jerseys and it's a nice atmosphere. Everybody is enjoying it.
“I would like to thank everyone here and look forward to meeting the President of the International Handball Federation, Dr Hassan Moustafa, who’s coming to watch the games.”
Photo: Stefanos Rapanis, Translation: Vassilis Georgiotis / Hellenic Handball Federation