The first beach handball tournament in Poland was organised in 2003. For 20 years, the popularity of this sport has grown significantly. This year, both the men’s and women’s Polish national teams will first play for medals in the European Championships, and then compete in Tarnów in the European Games.
The history of the discipline is not long – it all started on the Ponza beach in Italy in 1992. Beach handball then quickly found its way to Poland. The first major world event at which the sport made its debut was the 2001 World Games, a competition in non-Olympic sports. Two years later, the first beach volleyball tournament in our country was held in Świnoujście.
Other events quickly began to appear in all corners of Poland, from Mielec to Kraków, Warsaw and Sopot. The Polish national team was also formed quite quickly. It competed for the first time at the European Championships in 2006. The ladies managed to advance three times to the world championships in – 2012, 2016 and 2018 (they took the top sixth place). The greatest national team success was the silver medals at the 2017 European Women’s Championships.
Two years later, Poland hosted the tournament, which was played in Stare Jablonki, but the white-red ladies were only twelfth. The men, on the other hand, took their highest ever seventh place. During last year’s qualification in Prague, both teams won promotion to this year’s European Championships. In 2022, Poland’s women’s under-18 representatives won bronze medals at the world championships. Four of them have already been promoted to the senior women’s national team. In 2022, Gdansk hosted the first ever IHF Beach Handball Global Tour. The hosts proved hospitable as the men finished third and the women fourth.
Polish teams are also successful in international club competition. First, the female players of BHT Byczki Kowalewo Pomorskie took fourth place in the European Club Championships. The men from BHT Petra Płock did even better. On the Portuguese island of Porto Santo they proved to be better than 15 teams and became European Club Champions.
In Poland, beach handball developed very quickly – the Polish Championship and Cup competitions were organised. There was also a series of PGNiG Polish Beach Handball Tour tournaments. Last year, the Polish Cup was won by Byczki and Petra. The same teams also won the Polish championship. A total of 30 teams competed for medals. Since 2017, the highly regarded PGNiG Summer Superliga tournament series has been played in Europe.
Eight men’s and women’s teams each will compete in the European Games (20-22 June). The best on the Old Continent will come to Krakow, or rather Tarnów, where the beach handball competition will take place. This is because the qualification for the Games will take place during the European Championships in Portugal (24-28 May). The seven best teams will get a pass. In 2021, the men’s competition was won by the Danes (the Poles finished seventh) and the women’s by the Germans (the Poles were eighth).
Beach handball will make its debut at the European Games. The arena will be the Beach Sports Centre. This is an investment worth almost PLN 35 million (PLN 25 million from the state budget) – in the place of the old swimming pools and on the site of the former football and athletics stadium in Mościce, a complex is being built for training and competitions in beach sports. After the Games, the 3.5 hectare recreational facility will serve Tarnów residents as a summer water park.