Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s women’s team enjoyed mixed fortunes competing in the third annual British Beach Handball Championships last weekend at Branksome Chine beach in Poole, Dorset.
One of 14 women’s teams taking part in the tournament, it proved a tough debut in the heat of a sun-kissed day on the south coast as Newcastle sought to get to grips with the differing tactics of the ‘sandball’ version of the game. Beach handball is played on a smaller court than standard indoor handball, with 4-a-side teams rather than the normal 7-a-side. Points are scored for the winners of each 10-minute half of the match, while entertaining trick shots, such as shooting while spinning in the air, and goals scored by the ‘rush’ goalkeepers count double.
After narrowly losing their opening group match 2-0 against London-based Olympia, the first half only by virtue of a ‘golden goal’, and then by the same result to London GD’s first team, the Vikings fought back to win their first half-match point against Coventry. With their opponents just snatching the second half to level the points, the match went into a running penalty shoot-out to decide the overall match winner, but Newcastle were unable to score from their three attempts, Coventry taking the match 2-1. The Vikings then went down 2-0 to the first team of guest entrants TV Ettlingenweier from Germany in their final group game.
Day two saw Newcastle Vikings drawn in a play-off for the plate competition against Cambridge. It proved to be the euphoric highlight of the Vikings ladies’ weekend as they won their first beach handball match, convincingly taking the first half 9-3 and then battling back from six goals down in the second half with some well-taken two-point goals to win 11-10 for a brilliant 2-0 match victory.
The Vikings then fought all the way in their subsequent plate quarter-final and came agonisingly close to levelling the match in the dying seconds, before Oxford Blues scored a ‘golden goal’ decider to win the second half for a 2-0 knock-out.
Newcastle nevertheless came away looking on the positives of an entertaining first foray into the beach handball arena, savouring their first half and match wins in particular and that all of their players got themselves on the scoresheet during the tournament. In thanking the organisers, head coach Marlen Slinning said “We had a brilliant time and we’ll see you next year, hopefully with a men’s team as well”.
The women’s plate final was ultimately won by local club Sandbanks against London Angels, while TV Ettlingenweier went on to beat Coventry in the women’s cup final. Meanwhile, in the men’s competitions, London GD won the men’s cup final with Poole Phoenix winning the men’s plate final.
Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Marlen Slinning (GK2), Nina van Ruijven, Gesa Junge, Blessing Ogbee, Edna Ogbee, Kathryn Powell, Sandra Christke (captain).