By Sports Reporter/Doha
Hosts Qatar began their ISF World Schools Handball Championship campaign in style with a thumping 39-12 win over Morocco yesterday. At the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Qatar dominated the game throughout and were runaway winners. Qatar is in Group A along with Denmark, Austria, Poland and Morocco. The home team’s next match is against Poland today.
The championship formally began yesterday morning at 10am in both boys and girls sections. The tournament for 16-18 year olds (born in 2000, 2001 and 2002) will run until next Wednesday (28 February). For the first time in 24 editions, the championship is taking place outside of Europe and the competition is set to be fierce with 19 girls and 18 boys teams from 21 countries across Africa, Asia, Pan America and Europe competing for glory.
Morocco are the sole representative from Africa, while Brazil will fly the flag for Pan America. Hosts Qatar will represent Asia. Europe is the dominant continent with 18 countries travelling to Doha for the tournament, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey. The preliminary round matches will be held till Sunday, 25th February and sees both boys and girls competitions split over four groups each – Group A, B, C and D.
The opening ceremony was held at 6pm after yesterday’s matches, with spectacular performances from school children at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena. Young gymnasts from Qatar Gymnastics Association also wowed the crowd with their acrobatic skills.
Jassim Rashid al-Buenain, Secretary-General of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) inaugurated the championship, which is organised by the Qatar School Sports Federation (QSSF) under the aegis of International School Sports Federation (ISSF). “Under the patronage of HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, Chairman of the Qatar Olympic Committee, the opening ceremony of the World Handball Championship has been announced and he wishes success to all participating delegations,” said al-Buenain.
Al-Hitmi said that the Organising Committee of the Championship will do its best to host a high class event and called up participating athletes to uphold the spirit of sport during the tournament. “The dream has come true and we are witnessing today the opening of the world handball school tournament,” said Ali al-Hitmi, vice-chairman of the organising committee and Secretary General of the QSSF.
Stelos Daskalkis, Vice President of the ISSF expressed his gratitude to the State of Qatar, the Qatar Olympic Committee and the QSSF for hosting the tournament and commended the facilities provided for the championship. Meanwhile in other matches played at Aspire Hall and Women’s Sports Hall yesterday, defending boys’ champions Turkey cruised past Belgium 31-16, while France beat Bulgaria 39-22. Poland edged past Denmark 26-24, Croatia overcame Serbia 29-15 and Israel thrashed Georgia 36-11.
In girls section, Georgia managed to squeeze past Belgium 18-15, whole Greece blanked Poland 6-0.
The organisers have planned a raffle draw and many surprise gifts will be given away to lucky fans at the venue. The organising committee has co-ordinated with schools and colleges to bring students and cheer for teams. it has made also arrangements to bring students and persons with special needs to watch the matches.
Boys: Qatar 39 bt Morocco 12; Poland 26 bt Denmark 24; France 39 bt Bulgaria 22; Croatia 29 bt Serbia 15; Turkey 31 bt Belgium 16; Israel 36 bt Georgia 11; Czech Republic 27 bt Romania 19; Brazil 25 bt Greece 20
Girls: Georgia 18 bt Belgium 15; Greece 6 bt Poland 0; Brazil 22 bt Sweden 19; Germany 18 bt Romania 14; Croatia 24 bt France 19; Bulgaria 33 bt Israel 21; Austria 28 bt Serbia 25.
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