European Beach Tour readies itself for milestone season
We have just dusted ourselves off from the previous beach handball season as a new one beckons us.
This upcoming season in the European Beach Tour (ebt) will be a special one with it being the 20th edition of the tour.
Right in the 2023/24 season's heart, 13-16 June 2024, the ebt Finals will take place, and it is the best teams from the season just played who have already qualified for the event.
Teams qualified for the women's competition:
OVB Beach Girls (HUN), CBMP CIUDAD DE MALAGA (ESP), AD IASPORTS (POR), Hiekka Hauskaa/BEA (NED), Team Slovakia (SVK), BHC Dubrava (CRO), CAIPIranhas (GER), Niterói Rugby FC (IRL), Olympia Beach Handball (GBR), BHT Conkret Byczki Kowalewo Pomorskie (POL), Ladiez BH Team (CYP), Czech Lioness (CZE), The Danish Beachhandball Dream (DEN) (reigning champions), plus there is one position for the WildCard Organiser that is yet to be confirmed.
Teams qualified for the men's competition:
Beach Stars BHC (HUN) SALAZONES HERPAC BMP BARBATE (ESP) Escola de Formação de Espinho - Os Tigres (POR) BHC Zagreb (CRO), Niterói Rugby FC (IRL) 12 Monkeys Köln BHC (GER) Feyenoord Handbal (NED) BHT GRU JUKO Piotrków Trybunalski (POL), Karpatskí Rytieri (SVK), HEI Beach Handball (DEN), LONDON BEACH HANDBALL (GBR), Grosseto Handball (ITA), Czech Lions (CZE), Hír-Sat BHC (HUN) reigning champions) plus there is one position for the WildCard Organiser that is yet to be confirmed.
As with the previous seasons of the European Beach Tour, qualification for the season's ebt Finals takes place in the previous year. Points are awarded based on different criteria for ebt organisers' and the teams' sporting success.
Reigning men's champions, Hír-Sat BHC, finished second in points behind fellow Hungarian team Beach Stars BHC, and medalists BHC Zagreb and HEI Beach Handball have also qualified for next season's event. In the women's division, OVB Beach Girls finished number one in points with 1,467. Other notable teams are CBMP Ciudad de Malaga, who finished third in the rankings, and Niterói Rugby FC from Ireland.
Beach handball: going from strength to strength
Beach handball has seen a lot of growth in recent years, and there is no place where it is more evident than the European Beach tour. The ebt began its first season in 2003/04. Forty-one tournaments took place that year, and 54 men's and 32 women's teams participated in the inaugural season, which had events in 14 countries. During the 2022/23 season, 196 teams, 113 men's and 83 women's, took part in 57 tournaments in 18 countries, including two that hosted an ebt event for the first time: Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The busiest time of the season took place from 29 June to 2 July, when eight tournaments were played simultaneously, including the eighth Budapest Cup and SUANCES Cup 2023 in Spain. The Iberian Peninsula was the hot spot for the series, with four of the top six tournaments boasting the highest number of teams participating, being shared by Spain (three) and Portugal. The ARENA1000 NAZARÉ DREAMS tournament in Portugal took the top spot, with 52 teams participating, while 47 teams playing at the ARENA1000 Cádiz tournament. The ARENA1000 Orihuela event and the Diego Carrasco Cup both had 37 teams.
ebt Finals 2023 is in the history books
The ebt Finals 2023 (final tournament of ebt Season 2021/22) were held in Antalya, Türkiye from 8-11 June with 28 teams. Hír-Sat BHC from Hungary had a nearly flawless tournament, losing only one set to win the men's division; BHC Zagreb and HEI Beach Handball from Denmark took home silver and bronze, respectively. On the women's side, the Danish Beachhandball Dream took gold after finishing third in group play after two losses, but won the next three matches, including a 2:1 thriller against Spanish team CATS A.M. Team Almeria, to take home the gold. Westsite Amsterdam won bronze after defeating OVB Beach Girls 2:1 in the third-place match.
The 2023/24 season will start on 1 December 2023 and end on 31 October 2024. Regulations for the upcoming season are projected to be released later in November. For more information, please visit the European Beach Tour website.