Gold Coast delivers a spectacular national beach championship
Action from the beach, A goalkeeper leaps hight to block a shot at goal

High temperatures and the highest tides in recent memory washing away courts and causing the closure of the Gold Coast beaches for four days did nothing to dampen the 2016 Australian Beach Handball Championships. Thirty-one teams from Australia and New Zealand competed in Women’s, Men’s and Mixed categories at Coolangatta Beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The high number of teams had three courts running from 8:00am until 7:00pm for the first three days and finals and placement matches on the final day. Play was derailed across the 2 hour high tide on the second day, though organisers and players both jumped in and quickly relocated courts.

Overall the standard was high. Australian Women’s Coach Boris Mensing was excited to see the teams in the Oceania region playing at such a level. The atmosphere was definitely fun, though the competition fierce as the State based Club teams coined ‘fun’ names and donned their bright designed custom uniforms to battle it out on the sand.

The Women’s final was between rivals NSW and QLD, with the Maroubra Bluebottles (NSW) winning over RUOK? (QLD) in a penalty shoot-out, where the young keeper from NSW (via ACT) was on fire denying the most goals.

The Men’s division was won for a third time by the East Melbourne Spartans (VIC) , reclaiming their title this year, played determined first time finalists South Australia’s Drop Bears.

The Mixed division is a popular category in Australia (with the University sports playing mixed handball and mixed training fitting well with region’s culture) and really competitive. The final was all NSW between Harbourside and the Maroubra Bluebottles. The winners were the Bluebottles (NSW), with silver to Harbourside (NSW). Bronze in this category went to Monash (VIC).

The Men's Dream Team as voted by players/coaches of each team was: Left Wing Ryan Roselli (Wellington Parrots, NZ); Pivot Scott Nicholson (Maroubra Bluebottles, NSW); Right Wing Oliver Machell (Spartans, VIC via WA); Specialist Dan Epstein (Spartans, VIC); Goal Keeper Jim Brennan (Spartans, VIC); Left Wing Defender Glenn Stewart (Spartans, VIC); Central Defender  Daniel Fogerty (Spinners, WA via NSW); Right Wing Defender Andrew Kelso (Maroubra Bluebottles, NSW via VIC).

The Women’s Dream Team was; Left Wing Vanja Smiljanic (Melbourne Handball Club, VIC); Pivot Allira Hudson-Gofers(Maroubra Bluebottles, NSW); Right Wing Daniella Borelli dos Santos (Maroubra Bluebottles, NSW); Specialist Rosa Boyd (RUOK?, QLD); Goal Keeper Manon Vernay (Melbourne Handball Club, VIC); Left Wing Defender Heather Cooper (RUOK?, QLD); Central Defender  Tanya Beths (RUOK?, QLD); Right Wing Defender Aminta Thomas (RUOK?, QLD via NSW).

The MVP’s were; Women's Tori Brunsberg (BB UTS, NSW); Men's Dan Epstein (Spartans, VIC) and Mixed Manon Vernay (Made in France, VIC).

Thanks to Handball Queensland putting on such a great event and in particular organisers Rosa Boyd and Friederike Graser and tournament director Paul Langenberg and their great team. Thanks also to the New Zealand teams for travelling over to join with us for the event as well as the Oceania qualification event

Photo credit: Jun Tanlayco Sports Images

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