21 Sep. 2020
Although it has been a difficult summer to organise even small-scale events in Europe, the Polish Handball Federation (ZPRP) succeeded in completing their younger age category (YAC) national beach handball championship. Over the course of multiple events, more than 2,600 licensed players participated in the YAC competitions, and almost 90 clubs for a total of 220 teams – an increase of 400% from 2019 – were involved.
“It was a very difficult season, because, due to the pandemic, we did not know if we would even be able to start. Later, we had to follow the changes in limiting the restrictions and adapt the organisation of tournaments to the changing epidemic conditions,” said ZPRP Director of International Relations and Beach Handball Marek Góralczyk.
“None of the players, judges or delegates became infected during the beach handball games, which makes it clear that we all adhered to the adopted rules and restrictions resulting from the pandemic, for which we should thank all those who organised and participated in this year’s championship on sand.”
The ZPRP has been keenly focused on the development of beach handball in recent years, evidenced through the launching of the PGNiG Summer Superliga in 2017 and their hosting of the European championship in 2019. In 2020, they introduced a license system for beach handball players. A number of new beach handball courts were also created this year, spurred by the restrictions on playing indoors.
The ZPRP began to promote the upcoming beach handball season in schools and started indoor preparation at the end of 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic naturally hindered planning, but the ZPRP used the period of intense confinement measures to prepare online teaching materials and referee tests. In May, the first outdoor activities were able to resume, with limited numbers and only training sessions allowed. By the end of the month, competitions for a maximum of 150 participants were allowed, with no spectators. At the end of July, participation numbers were allowed to increase and some spectators were allowed.
Due to the restrictions on participant numbers, the YAC competition system was adjusted, starting with regional qualification tournaments, progressing to regional finals and ultimately semi-finals and finals tournaments played with eight teams in each gender. Throughout the season, 47 teams competed in the U14 boys’ championship, 50 took part in the U14 girls’ tournaments, 35 participated in the U16 boys’ category, 30 in the girls’ U16, 32 in the U19 men’s and 26 in the U19 women’s.
Each age group saw their finals played in different locations on different dates, with U16 boys in Sulejów on 12 and 13 August, the U16 girls in the same location on 19 and 20 August, the U19 men and women in Katy Wrocławskie on 22 and 23 August, and the U14 boys and girls in Koszalin on 29 and 30 August. In addition, the PGNiG Summer Superliga, which forms part of the European Beach Tour circuit, concluded on 16 August in Darłowo.
More information on the Polish Handball Federation activities can be found on their official website.
PHOTOS: Miroslaw Rzepka / Adam Paczkowski