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Bill Bigham, Captain of the Men’s USA Beach Handball team: Beach handball is about real acrobatic shots

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From 24 to 29 of July Kazan hosted the VIII Beach Handball World Championship. 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams from 24 countries competed for the victory. All matches were played on 3 courts of the Beach Sports Complex. Greek women won Beach Handball World Champion title on debut and Brazil’s men won their fifth gold. Our reporter talked to Captain of the Men’s USA Beach Handball team Bill Bigham during the break. He shared his opinion about Kazan, matches, other teams and revealed a significant difference between beach handball and indoor handball.

IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships
IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships

First of all, what is your position?

I’m the team Сaptain and a defensive specialist.

How do you find Kazan?

Kazan is a beautiful, wonderful city. It really is. It’s very beautiful. All the people are really friendly, everything is brand new, great facilities.

You had some time to go sightseeing or you just train and compete?

We hadn’t time yet, but here’s a lot of things that look great and that I want to check out. For example, this soccer stadium looks nice, I want to check that out too. We just haven’t time yet. It’s just: game-hotel-game-hotel-game-hotel.

How do you find the court, the sand?

It’s perfect.

Referees?

The referees are doing their job (laughs) .

What about your previous games?

We got some really good fights, it’s been tough. Our enemies have performed better and we have come up short. The last three times been quite tough and it took a lot of guts. So Russia took over and then Sweden.

IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships
IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships

That was a really good game.

The guys from the Russian team were good players. So, I like these guys.

Who do you think is the strongest opponent in this tournament?

Russia looks very strong, Sweden looks very strong. I think Spain and Croatia also impressive.

And you are going to become champions, aren’t you?

We wanted to. We are in the group where it is more difficult for us to play through the championship. But good luck to other teams that fighting for it.

Only time will tell?

Time will tell, yeah.

You know, this is the first time I’m on the handball competition. I thought it’s going to be some kind of boring mix of soccer with volleyball… But now I want to play this game!

Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about. What do you think? Fun!

Is here more freestyle?

Yeah! And you get an extra point for it in this game.

Basketball, for example. You do a slam dunk and you still get two. And here you get an extra point. You all do these 360s, alley-oops and other throws, it’s amazing!

Yeah! It’s fun.

So, is beach handball more informal than indoor handball?

It is. You know, it’s the energy and… And I played both, I was in the U.S. Indoor Handball team a couple times, so I play both the indoor handball and the beach. And for me this is more fun, no disrespect, but this is more fun. It’s fun to be outside in this sand, under the sun and do this real acrobatic shots. That’s what I like, I prefer that.

By the way, is there an extra point for a freestyle in the indoor handball?

No.

Is it “too classy” for it?

“Too classy”, I like that (laughs).

IHF Men's and Women's Beach Handball World Championships
IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships

In 2016 the first USA Beach Handball team was formed with a small number of athletes from different sports and different ages. Bill is the first and only American handball player to ever compete for the United States in both the Indoor (2001 and 2007) and the Beach Handball World Championships. Former quarterback for the University of North Carolina Football team.

Interviewed by Timur Galiev
Photo: Igor Galiev