Acapulco Welcomes North American And Caribbean Beach Handball Nations
The second edition of the North America and Caribbean Handball Confederation (NACHC) Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball Championships will be played in Mexico from 25 to 27 April.
The two championships will run side by side on Icacos Beach in Acapulco.
A total of 14 different teams will be competing for the regional titles in Mexico as well as qualification places for both the 2022 IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships in Greece in June and The World Games 2022, which will be played in the United States city of Birmingham, Alabama, in July.
The men’s competition in Acapulco will feature two initial preliminary groups before moving into a knockout competition, while the women’s competition will be played in a round-robin format.
Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Canada and host Mexico are together in preliminary group A of the men’s competition, while the USA, Puerto Rico, Dominica and Dominican Republic are in group B.
The women’s competition will feature the USA, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Dominican Republic and hosts Mexico.
The top two teams in both the men’s and women’s championships will qualify for Greece 2022 and the champions of each will also book their ticket to The World Games 2022, although with the USA already qualified as hosts, should they win in Mexico, the runners-up will seal their spot in Alabama.
The Canadian men will be making history with Acapulco 2022 the first-ever appearance for a Canada national beach handball team at an international event, while Trinidad and Tobago, led by coach Lester Morris, have been preparing in St. Lucia ahead of travelling to North America.
Puerto Rico’s side have received a number of high-profile visits to their various Aguada-based training camps in the lead up to Mexico, with their teams captained by Katy Saleh and Francisco Pérez. The Puerto Rico Handball Federation will also be starting a beach handball circuit later this year.
“The boys are healthy and with two games a day any ailment prevents you from playing the next day, so it is important that they arrive strong,” said Abdiel Acevedo from the Puerto Rico Handball Federation to local media ahead of the event, which had originally been set to be held in the country before moving to Mexico.
The USA have been promoting the championships as their ‘Road to Repeat’ after both their teams won the inaugural championships, held back in July 2019 at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The US recently announced their new coaching staff and squad members, with Lisa Dunn taking over the women and Michael Hinson the men.
“Naturally, as defending champions you know the target is on your back and every team you face is preparing to try and dethrone you,” said USA men’s team captain Ebiye Udo-Udoma, also known as the ‘Handball Ninja’.
“It’s been three years since the last continental championship and I know the confederation will be on a different level than it was in 2019, but I also know we are on a different level than we were when we won gold in Trinidad.
“I’m excited to go to battle with my brothers against the best of the north in Acapulco, as well as reunite with the North American/Caribbean handball family after an almost three year hiatus.”
Michelle Mensing, the USA women’s assistant coach, was also looking forward to seeing a side with many new faces go up against some tough tests on the Mexican sand.
“This has been one of the most competitive selections yet,” she said. “It demonstrates that our programme is growing and that new talents are emerging to challenge our existing player pool.”