Paris 2024 to help beach handball take off. GETTY IMAGES

2024 will be one of the most important years for beach handball. The Olympic Games will serve as a showcase for the sport as it becomes an exhibition sport. In 2023, the sport will be played on six continents, major competitions will be held and the relationship between the federations will develop.

Giampiero Masi, Chairman of the Beach Handball Working Group of the International Handball Federation (IHF), gave an interview to the IHF in which he reviewed 2023 and announced some of the challenges planned for 2024. "The start of the season is a new challenge, but challenges, whether technical or sporting, are part of our DNA. We always look to the future with a great deal of optimism, with an appreciation of our experience and with the aim of constantly raising the level of our results," he said.

Masi explained: "International events are important showcases and benchmarks, both from a technical and organisational point of view. 2023 was therefore "a year of transition". It was a period of planning and preparation for 2024. According to the President, in 2024 "the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be able to see the enormous potential of beach handball".

Giampiero Masi, Chairman of the IHF Beach Handball Working Group. GETTY IMAGES
Giampiero Masi, Chairman of the IHF Beach Handball Working Group. GETTY IMAGES

It is a sport that is growing worldwide. Every year, the International Handball Federation (IHF) and the IHF Beach Handball Working Group (BHWG) work together to develop the sport. It is already played on six continents.

"Last year, our continental federations were busy with qualifying tournaments for the 2024 IHF Men's and Women's Beach Handball World Championships and the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia, as well as numerous continental and national competitions around the world, not to mention the IHF Beach Handball Global Tour," explains Masi in the IHF interview. 

The cancellation of the ANOC World Beach Games by the ANOC was a setback, but it was good news for beach handball to see that countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Korea Republic, the Philippines and the People's Republic of China are excelling in beach handball. According to Masi, "if they make the right investment plans, they will soon be able to play an important role in this the sport".

The IHF Beach Handball Global Tour stood out as an event with a high technical and promotional content. There were two stages in South America (Maricá, Brazil) and two in Europe (Płock, Poland). The third stage was held in Africa (Hammamet, Tunisia). "It opened the door for a new approach to beach handball by the various African national federations".

Beach handball has held major tournaments on six continents. GETTY IMAGES
Beach handball has held major tournaments on six continents. GETTY IMAGES

Kenya, Algeria, Togo and Mali showed great interest. Tunisia and Morocco were at the forefront of beach handball in Africa. And finally, Asia, where Doha (Qatar) "was an unforgettable experience for two days: a success from an organisational, technical and public point of view. A pure technical spectacle with impeccable organisation," said the President.

Beach handball is played on all six IHF continents by more than 130 countries. Since 2004, ten IHF Beach Handball World Championships for men and women have been held, organised on four different continents. On a global level, beach handball is listed as an official sport of the IOC Youth Olympic Games, of the IWGA World Games and of the ANOC World Beach Games.

As an exhibition sport at Paris 2024, this year is very important for the sport. The IHF's Giampiero Masi was full of praise for his colleagues: "But this success must be shared with IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa, IHF Director General Amal Khalifa, the governing bodies, the IHF office and staff, my colleagues in the BHWG and all the continental federations".