Here at ALL I SEA, we get to spend our working weeks and weekends surrounded by incredible athletes, great minds, and inspirational human beings. This month, with our sights set on continuing to partner with legends across all sports, we left the Bondi Bubble to drop in on the Australian Beach Hand Ball team and their training session on Maroubra beach.
We originally went to let the ladies put the Bondi Range to the test, but after seeing the crew in action, flying through the air and hitting the sand at full force, we had to learn more. ALL I SEA sat down with captain Allira and asked her to explain more about the game and why Australian's should be getting involved.
You represent Australia in Beach Hand Ball, how did you first discover the sport?
I grew up playing waterpolo and basketball and accidentally discovered the indoor version of Handball in 2006. I was lucky enough to travel with the Australian team to a couple of amazing countries for various tournaments.
The Beach Handball World Championships started in 2004 and our Aussie boys team first competed in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey. They came back from this trip and Australia held its Beach Handball National Club Championships. I attended the second Club Championships in Melbourne in 2012, which featured some International Handball Federation coaches who came out to Australia to show us that Beach Handball was more exciting than merely indoor Handball in the sun!
For those unfamiliar with the sport, how would you describe it?
Beach Handball is a great sport for Australia, because it takes a lot of skills from some of our popular sports – our players break through the defensive line like in touch football or rugby, fly through the air to shoot 2-point (basketball) alley shots, launch themselves at the ball for amazing volleyball style defensive blocks, and throw in some fancy footwork and 360 degree spin shots for good measure.
There are four players on the pitch, one specialist and three generalists. When the team is in defence, the specialist is in the goals and the generalists are in defence. On transition, the specialist comes out of goals (that’s right, the goal is open!) and the team plays four on three at the other end. Specialist goals are always worth two points, generalists score one point for a regular goal and two points for either an alley o r a spin shot. This makes the game very tactical, since there is an extra attacker and some attackers are better positioned to score an easier two point goal.
Did you always grow up “playing” on the beach?
Not really, and most time spent at the beach was in the water! I did grow up playing all types of sport though, and am always willing to give something a try!
What does a typical training session involve for you and the team?
Training can involve anything from sand sprints, plyometrics, shooting and game tactics. The Aussie team are spread all around the country so we need to be dedicated enough to train by ourselves or in small groups most of the time. We come together for squad training sessions every month or so!
When you’re not playing Beach Handball, what else do you do?
I am a patent attorney by profession, so I assist people with protecting and enforcing their inventions and designs. I have degrees in mechatronics engineering and biomedical engineering, so most of my clients are involved with technology in these spaces.
I love playing sport and also play waterpolo and have just started playing AFL, which is great fun. I have an almost two-year old, so I need to stay fit to keep up with him! Hopefully, he grows up to enjoy staying fit and active.
What is your favourite beach to play at in the world and why?
I love playing at our beaches in Sydney. There is nothing better than a sunny weekend afternoon at the beach playing some sport and getting covered in sand!
The best tournament “beach” I have played at was in Prague, Czech Republic. The tournament organisers built a sand court on the bank of the Danube River!
How can people follow you and support the Team?
Follow me on instagram @allirahg, the team are @aussiebeachgliders.
We also have a couple of facebook pages:
Our new Junior squad – still open for new players born 2000 or later -https://www.facebook.com/Australian-Junior-Beach-Handball-Team-1135882016467738/
The Aussie teams - https://www.facebook.com/australianbeachhandballteam/
AND for anyone who wants to try out the sport, we have open trainings and games at Maroubra beach on Saturday andSunday afternoons from 4-6pm. Go to https://www.facebook.com/MaroubraBluebottles/ and https://www.facebook.com/NSWBeachHandball/ for more information.