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Date: 7/27/2017
 

Two beach handball enthusiasts and former players originally from Germany, Boris Mensing, the coach of the women’s team and Patrik Weiss, the men’s team coach, came to the 2017 World Games with two main goals – fight for the best result possible and get more recognition worldwide and in Australia.

 

Beach handball is quite a new sport in Australia and yet you are here, competing with the best teams in the world. What is your key to success?

 

BM: We have worked extremely hard over the past six years since we started with beach handball in Australia. We obviously have competed in all the major tournaments, since the World Championships in Turkey in 2010 for the men and then women in 2012, Oman. We’re holding monthly training camps with all the players in mainly Sydney and Melbourne. Because Australia is such a big country, we fly up to 4 hours to get to a training camp for a weekend and we work very hard during them. The players also work individually on a daily basis. And then once in a month, we meet up for a training camp and practice, practice, practice.

 

Since beach handball is still not a funded sport in Australia, how do you finance the participation in the world tournaments?

 

BM: The players have to pay everything themselves, as Australia has got no funding at all. From uniform and flights to food. Everything.

 

PW: It’s a lot of discipline, lot of heart, lot of passion and a lot of believe in their country and in their teammates. That’s the only way I can see how we’ve came from five years ago to where we are now. It takes more ownership of the team.

 

Do you see this situation improving in the future?

 

PW: The sport is growing and with the sport grow we get more recognition in the country. With this being an Olympic cycle, it’s all helping for this September’s IHF and Olympic Committee decision. And with that we’d become bit more recognised by the association, by the Australian Olympic Committee and with that hopefully we’ll get more funds coming through.

 

Do you believe your participation in the World Games will contribute to the improvement?

 

Definitely. Now we just need the results so that we can advertise in Australia.

 

How does beach handball stand in Australia? Or handball in general?

 

BM: Very low. We don’t have that many members within the association and the Australian sports like football or rugby are getting a lot of funding from the government together with the sponsorship. But because handball and beach handball is not that recognised in Australia, it is difficult for us.

 

Australia is among the countries where beach handball is more popular than indoor handball. Why is that?

 

PW: We have a lot of beaches, we have a lot of sun and it’s just easily accessible, because you just go to the beach and you start playing. And it goes in with the Australian life style of being outdoors. That’s why the indoors have been restrictive. Because our beaches are for free, but we’d have to pay for indoor venues.

 

Not only does beach handball grow in Australia but also in other countries all over Oceania. Does Australia have an impact on it?

 

BM: Australia made a huge effect. I was one of the lectors, I went over to American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands and did the first IHF course of beach handball, which was then followed up by the assistant coach of Patrik. And the Oceania nations performed really well – the Women’s Team U17 of American Samoa now qualified for the Youth Olympics which is absolutely outstanding.

 

So, you believe the growth of beach handball in Oceania will help with the recognition worldwide?

 

PW: It’ll help us and it will help a region. And it will help the recognition worldwide as well. The more countries we’ll have, the more players play, the better the competition gets. It’s the only competition that we’ve got cause everything else is so far away. And just playing World Championships and World Games is always very hard.

 

Did it ever happen that you had to let go some good players because they were not able to afford all the expenses?

 

Yes. It happened in the past, a lot of times in the past. It is not optimal, it’s not the best, but we have to work with what we’ve got and we just don’t have any funding. So we just have to be grateful to the players who make the sacrifice.

 

Will Australia be able to rank among the top beach handball countries?

 

BM: Yes. Certainly. That’s what we are here for. We want to play for the medal.  We’ve come such a long way and if you watch the games, the men, the women, they’re very class games. Beach handball is not always “the best team wins”, it is a lot of mental strength that is required. You’ve got two periods and if you lose the first one, you know you have to win the second one and then win a shoot-out. It is an amazing game, it is incredible for the spectators and I think Australia can definitely play on the top. 

 

PW: Definitely. There’s nothing that can stop us. With the results that we have here, and with the team and the growth that we have so far, anything can happen and that’s the beauty of the game. That anything can happen. 

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    Hans-Günter Weiß 28 July 2017

    Without support

    Since 3 weeks are the Australien Beach Handball Teams on tour in europe and finally in Poland by the World Games. I'm very surprised as I wrote in the interview of the head Coaches Boris Mensing and Patrik Weiss, that all the cost the Players pay themself, without any Support from the Australien Handball Federation! I'm very disappointet that the Australien Handball Federation ist not able to Support your Teams. Sorry, but I can't believe it!

    Hans-Günter Weiß 28 July 2017

    Without support

    Since 3 weeks are the Australien Beach Handball Teams on tour in europe and finally in Poland by the World Games. I'm very surprised as I wrote in the interview of the head Coaches Boris Mensing and Patrik Weiss, that all the cost the Players pay themself, without any Support from the Australien Handball Federation! I'm very disappointet that the Australien Handball Federation ist not able to Support your Teams. Sorry, but I can't believe it!