Guys, we have special interview for you :) Two old friends met to talk about beach handball - Mladen Paradžik tried out his journalist skills and asked Mr Marco Bodmer about Swiss beach handball and the development of this sport in general. Check out what kind of changes does Mr Bodmer suggest to implement and what does he think about the future of our beloved sport:
You're part of Swiss beach handball since I know you, i.e. 2005. All of this time you are involed in the organization of the tournaments, recruitment of the young players who would train BH, and last but not least - delegating. Could you describe us how has everything started for you?
In 1997 I got the rules of beachhandball and I immediatly started to organize the first beachhandball tournament in Switzerlan (in Zurich) together with my wife Monika and a couple of friends. Some of the participating teams where really fascinated and organized their own beachhandball tournaments in the following seasons. Later on I became an official responsible for beachhandball in Switzerland.
But honestly, I have to admit that beachhandball got a new level for me, when the Croatian and Hungarian teams came to the first international indoor beachhandball tournament in Leuggern and showed us what could be possible with this wonderful sport. This was a magic moment I will never forget. Since than we improved a lot and we had a lot of international games and contacts.
How many teams and tournaments do you have in your country? How are national championships organized?
In Switzerland we have about 6-8 male and 4-6 famale teams who try to play beachhandball. There are about 60 teams more who play once or twice a year just handball on sand, just for fun, but its really frustrating for them to play against better teams.
The ambitious teams play the national finals in order to find out the Swiss champions. We have 5 or 6 max. tournaments at the moment. We lost some of our tournaments in the last years, I think mostly for financial reasons, because the federation does not support them enough (at all).
In 2015 I organised, with my club, the Swiss minihandball festival. For this event I implemented mini-beachhandball - a game with little simplifications, i.e. played on the fields used for beachvolleyball with small goals for unihockey. On that occasion 130 teams (!) got in touch with beachhandball. Last year the next organiser had the obligation (dictated by the Federation) to play beach handball too. The same is fixed for the organisers of this and the next years…
This helped us to organise Swiss minibeach handball championships (last year 38 teams participating). That's the way we can build it bottom-up and make it popular.
In the previos years, your country had the politics where national club champion represented the country on the national selection level as well. Could you describe the advantages and disadvanteges of this approach?
It is an economic question which will never lead to a very competitive team. As most of the players who represent Switzerland at the international championships come from the winning team and therefore from the same region, it is easy to train together. There is also no need to pay a national trainer who selects the best players from different clubs. On the other hand, it is difficult to guarantee continuity because most of the players won't have a chance at the next championships if the winner is the other team, as it was the last time. That's why a lot of know-how and experience gets lost every time.
Do you have any support from the higher authorities (handball federation, city or government maybe) regarding the investment in beach handball?
We have a very low support from the Swiss handball federation. They still believe that the money is better invested for indoor handball.
You are also the EBT delegate. When did you become the delegate and in how many tournaments have you been involved so far? What are your best/worst delegate experiences?
In 2010 I went to Espinho (Portugal) for the EHF Delegate course. I've been involved in several tournaments abroad, but especiallly those in Switzerland. I had also the opportunity to go to Batumi (Georgia) at the European Youth Championships. That's where I had my worst experience, because I was not able and not allowed to help my team (that I trained during months before). I had a serious conflict of interests that was not so easy to handle.
With most of the referees I talk after their matches, I find a good level of cooperation and acceptance. I think a lot of referees could improve a lot, but sometimes they don't want to hear critics and they block every approach of suggestions… Nevertheless, I have a huge experience as a referee (whistling beach since 1997), but also as a player and coach. That's why a lot of referees like my commentaries (after the match) more when I am a delegate, as during the match when I am a coach…
At this moment - are you satisfied with the direction in which beach handball goes?
I'm very happy, that EHF, IHF and IOC point on pushing beach handball to higher spheres.
Regarding the rules, do you think that something should be changed or you think that all the rules are well incorporated to the beach handball philosophy?
Maybe some regulations are too strict, as e.g. the clothes restrictions, or the strange idea that some inflights are awarded with only one point. I really like the fairplay in the rules of the game. I don't know if there are other sports where it is the crucial point in the rules.
I also liked the three points for the inflight, because it awards a cooperation between at least two players, wich for me is more worth than an individuel action (too many spin shots are a little bit boring). Also it gives more possibilities to risk something when the result needs it.
Even if you don't think about changing the 2 points I think that the rules would give space for some spectacular collective actions.
How would you comment on the situation that beach handball became part of youth Olympic Games and how do you see the beach handball development in the future?
The introduction of World Youth Championships and the admittance of beach handball at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires are really positive signs. I had the oppotunity to be the delegate in 2015 in Lausanne when the world selections of men and women played an exhibition game for Dr. Bach (president of IOC) in front of 400 spectators and it was a succesfull and attractive event.
From the moment beach handball will become the part of the olympic disciplines, everything will immediately change. There will be a lot of sponsors, a lot of players who will try to reach the stars working and training a lot for this aim, and the Federations and common people will finally recognize us…
What do you expect from your country in the future in this discipline?
I hope that the Swiss Federation will recognize the power of beach handball and will increase the efforts to promote and help in development.