While this title sounds like epic news there are a few asterisks that have to be explained. Still really great news, just not epic.
Asterisk #1: The handball in question is “Beach Handball”
Asterisk #2: The Olympics in question is the Youth Olympic Games
Asterisk #3: The Americans in question are American Nationals from the U.S. Territory of American Samoa
Yes, the American Samoa Women’s U17 Beach Handball team has qualified for the Youth Olympic Games to be staged next summer in Argentina. With only 55,000 inhabitants and, believe it or not, not enough sand on the islands to play beach handball properly, American Samoa was able to put together a team in a few short months to first win the Oceania championships and participate in the U17 Beach Handball Word Championships. While they were beaten soundly by some of the game’s traditional powers they still qualified for the Youth Olympic Games by defeating Australia twice and thus securing the Oceania slot to the Youth Olympic Games.
To find out more about handball and beach handball in American Samoa I spoke with the U17 Women’s coach, Carl Sagapolutele Floor. Carl fills me on the challenges of starting a handball program on a remote Pacific island, learning how to play beach handball without sand, and the road from no program to the Youth Olympic Games.
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