Humans of Beach Handball: Diogo Ferreira
Diogo Ferreira is synonymous with excellence and passion in the realm of beach handball. With tireless dedication, Ferreira thinks he has evolved a lot in recent years and has had the privilege of establishing himself as a prominent figure in this sport, admitting that his main goal is to be the best player in the world.
Diogo Ferreira’s first contact with handball was not different from most players. It all started with indoor handball, enjoying his time on the court. Now he plays indoor handball at FC Gaia and beach handball with EFE Os Tigres, a three-time national champion team. Although he has arguably made his name on the beach, he says he likes both disciplines equally.
“Both are essential in my life and because of the different goals I set in each of the strands, they are both extremely challenging for me and demand different things from me, which in my opinion makes me an even better and more complete player in both modalities,” Ferreira says.
“My career so far has been marked by my determination, by my daily focus. And my life is marked by a genuine love for this sport, and a commitment to evolve, trying to be better every day. Remembering that each of my achievements were only possible through a lot of team spirit, hard work and perseverance. I face each challenge in an extremely confident way, knowing that there is always room for improvement. It is a great privilege to be able to share my journey with others and contribute to the history of beach handball.”
The fun that became an obsession
But how did handball appear in Diogo Ferreira's life? Quite simply, it was all about family. In a house where you breathed handball, the hardest part was never having played this sport.
“My father played handball and I, the youngest of three brothers, started playing shortly after my brothers joined. I was about 7 years old when I started playing and I was training there with kids who were four years older than me,” Ferreira says.
“Although I started playing handball at the age of 7, I only started playing beach handball in 2016, when I was 15, just for fun,” adds Ferreira.
“That year there was a European Championship, in Nazaré, in which Portugal, after a fantastic campaign, got second place in a final lost against Spain. A super balanced and exciting game. At the time I watched the game alone at home on television and was fascinated by the quality of that game, with the full beach applauding Portugal. At that moment I thought: 'I wish I was playing there.' I think that's where it clicked,” Ferreira says.
Ferreira is now considered by many the best Portuguese beach handball player. However, the 22-year-old athlete wants more. A lot more.
“I confess that I was very weak at playing beach handball, I couldn't even do a pirouette. But with the right mindset I decided to change that. I went to the beach to train every day. Jumps, shots, I did everything. After a lot of work, I was called up for the European Beach Handball Championship in Croatia and the World Cup in Mauritius. I felt infinitely grateful for everything that was happening, the memories and experiences that I was able to live as a result of my work and dedication,” he says.
After this the Porto-born player felt like giving back to beach handball everything it had given him. “I set myself the main goal of reaching my maximum potential and be the best beach handball player in the world,” highlights Ferreira.
The growth of beach handball
Portugal has really grown a lot in beach handball, even as the sport itself continues to expand exponentially. But what has really made the difference?
“Something interesting that I noticed in beach handball is that you meet more and more people who share my fanaticism and fascination with the sport. Portugal has great coaches and experts in beach handball, great beaches and world-class players; we have everything to continue evolving.” Ferreira stresses.
There is no longer any doubt that beach handball is on a very promising trajectory of growth; it is already played all over the world and manages to put together spectacle, technique and tactics in a fast-paced game with an environment in which fair play prevails.
Ferreira has ideas as to how beach handball can further develop.
“I think that in the future there could be a coordination of the dates of indoor handball and beach competitions so that athletes who have high commitment in the arena do not need to miss beach competitions. I also think that there should be a professionalisation of the beach handball player, being more sustainable that the athlete can follow his great passion,” he suggests.
Like many others, Ferreira would also like to see beach handball at the Olympic Games.
“Olympic recognition could raise the status of beach handball and bring it huge exposure. For athletes it would be great too. Making it to the Olympic Games is a career dream for anyone, something that would motivate us to improve even more and would also inspire the next generations to get there one day,” concludes Ferreira.