Beach handball ready for regional South East Asian debut

12 Sep. 2019

Beach handball ready for regional South East Asian debut

The 30th edition of the South East Asian Games (SEA Games) will be hosted by the Philippines from 30 November to 11 December with a men’s beach handball competition taking place at the Subic Tennis Courts in Subic Bay from 7-11 December in between the official Opening Ceremony on 30 November and the Closing Ceremony on 11 December.

The SEA Games are a multi-sport event held every two years and involves participants from the countries of South East Asia under regulation from the South East Asian Games Federation (SEAGF). 

The first edition of the event was held in 1959 in Bangkok with beach handball making its debut this year following the last appearance of handball – the indoor version – at the 2007 edition in Thailand, with the host nation winning gold followed by Vietnam (silver) and Malaysia (bronze) in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

The men’s beach handball competition in 2019 features host nation Philippines (PHI) alongside Vietnam (VIE), Thailand (THA), Indonesia (INA) and Singapore (SGP) in a round-robin competition format and has been included in the Games thanks to a campaign headed up by the Philippine Handball Federation (PHF) after they appealed against either form of handball not being included when the sporting competition was initially revealed.

“The last time handball was played at the SEA Games was in 2007 so we're glad our appeal was considered,” said Philippine Handball Head Team Coach Joanna Franquelli to 

“Our fight for the inclusion of handball was not easy, but in the end we managed to get the Philippine Olympic Committee to agree to include handball,” added Franquelli, who led the campaign. “As the PHF, we wanted to have both men's and women's events involved and although it is only the men’s competition we consider this as a positive development as we try to create awareness for handball in the Philippines and get much needed support from our sports stakeholders.

“We’re excited about the SEA Games as it will be a much-anticipated event in our region,” explained Franquelli. “This is the PHF’s contribution to the Asian handball family as ASEAN member countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and other members will likely be encouraged to strengthen their beach handball programmes and with the strong Asian beach handball nation of Vietnam hosting the next edition of the SEA Games, in 2021, the we expect the continued development of beach handball in the ASEAN Region in the years to come.”

The PHF will be hoping to continue their recent success with Franquelli describing 2018 as a “good year” for Philippine handball as their men’s youth team grabbed silver in the IHF Trophy, held the first Philippine Beach Handball Open and confirmed the inclusion of beach handball at the SEA Games and then earlier this year, the men’s side finished eighth at the 2019 AHF Men’s Beach Handball Asian Championship in Weihai, China in their first-ever appearance in the competition.

And in May earlier this year, the women's junior team grabbed bronze in the 2019-20 IHF Women's Trophy: AHF Asia Zone 1B competition.

“It is still an uphill struggle for handball in the Philippines as we try to establish the sport in a country dominated by men's basketball and women's volleyball,” added Franquelli. “More work needs to be done, but the milestones remind us that no matter how much the odds are stacked against us, we can still hit our mark. 

“The result in Weihai saw us gain vital experience and, most of all, our team gained respect within the Asian Handball community, but we need to play more matches, tournaments and friendlies to be exposed to the international standard ahead of the 2019 SEA Games.”

Ahead of the tournament, the Philippine men’s national team will head to Hungary for a training camp (19-30 September) overseen by the international beach handball expert Tamas Neukum where they will play a number of friendly matches.

Fifty-six sports in three categories will be featured (see below) at the SEA Games 2019 with an estimated 8,750 athletes and team officials; 2,050 technical officials, 1,500 press and media attendees and 12,000 volunteers participating.

Follow the build-up to the Games via their official channels: website, Facebook and YouTube. Twitter and Instagram will be launched soon with the hashtags for the event: #WeWinAsOne and #2019SEAGAMES.

Image: SEA Games 2019