First American Open Beach Handball Championship in Gulf Shores

April 06, 2014, 5:13 p.m. (ET)

First American Open Beach Handball Championship to be held in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Beach Handball teams from across the USA will soon gather on the sandy, white beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala., to compete in the first annual American Open Beach Handball Championship. The tournament will be held April 24 – 27, 2014. The registration fee is $100 per team.

Dede Piankova, Chairwoman of USA Beach Handball and a member of the local organizing committee, will manage the two-round competition.  The event will begin on Friday, April 25th at 9:30 AM and will feature divisions for Men, Women and Youth.  Three playing courts will be stationed on the public beach at The Hangout, 101 E. Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores, Ala., 36542.

Through this competition and other supporting efforts, the organizing committee members hope to promote Beach Handball to the general public, and gain support for its induction into the 2016 Summer Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Team coaches, referees and delegates can increase their knowledge of Beach Handball by completing the International Handball Federation (IHF) Beach Handball Masters Course and Certification, which will be conducted at various times during the competition.  The classes will be taught by Mr. Luiz Filipe, Chairman of the Pan Am Beach Handball (BH) Working Group (WG), and Mr. Burak Tazcan, IHF BH WG member.  The cost of the course is $50 per applicant.  Please use this link to download the registration form, and email the completed form to Dede Piankova.

In addition to experienced local referees, the matches will be officiated by two of the highest ranking European Beach Handball officials, Mr. Evangelos Syrepisios and Mr. Michalis Mertinian.  Both referees will share their vast experience and techniques with the American colleagues and competitors.

During the tournament, Mr. George S. Bebetsos, the European Handball Federation (EHF) elected official responsible for Beach Handball development, will serve as a member of the Competition Management team, and will offer a course on marketing Beach Handball.  The course participants will receive:

  • Certificate of Course Participation
  • The European Handball Federation’s complete Beach Handball Marketing folder, printed materials and DVD
  • The EHF directory titled “How to Organize an Beach Handball Event”
  • The soft cover book “Beach Handball from A to Z”

The mayor of Gulf Shores, Mr. Robert Craft is sponsoring the awarding of medals and trophies.  He is also generously contributing a special Gulf Shores Mayors Cup, which will be displayed in City Hall.  The tournament Most Valuable Players, Most Valuable Goalies and the top scorers will be recognized during the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, April 27th.

The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission is providing monetary awards for the Women and the Men divisions:
First Place:      $1,000
Second Place:  $500  
Third Place:     $250

In support of the first annual American Open Beach Handball Championship, Dede Piankova continues to work directly with high school and middle school Physical Education teachers in the Gulf Shores area to introduce students to Beach Handball, and to help train teams for the Championship.

“I am personally honored that Dede Piankova has chosen Gulf Shores Middle School as a starting point to teach the new and exciting sport of Beach Handball.  I believe it is a game that is somewhat fast paced and often allows immediate rewards, which will be very appealing to most students.  Dede is not only fully knowledgeable about this dynamic sport; she also brings her positive spirit and never-ending energy to the game.  It is my goal to continue to work with Dede and to educate teachers and students in how to play the game and enjoy all the fun that Beach Handball can bring to our Baldwin County community.  Thank you, Dede!”

-- Coach Valerie Caldwell

“Working with Dede Piankova has been a pleasant and informative experience.  Dede has not only enlightened me on the game of Beach Handball, but has brought her vast knowledge of the culture and competition surrounding the sport.  Dede brings enthusiasm and ideas that I can incorporate into the lessons I will use for my classes.  I look forward to continuing to work with her and the United States Sports Academy in my classroom and community.”

-- Coach Dirk Dixon

More information on this event, including hotel and meal accommodations, can be found on the Facebook page:, and the website. You can also email Dede Piankova at: