Dubai: The Dubai International Handball Club (DIHC) is not even a year old but going by the rapidly growing popularity for the sport, the club is putting things together to start an academy later this year.

“The Dubai Handball Academy will be for children and beginners. We want to work in close collaboration with local schools in Dubai and plan accordingly,” said Dario Menichetti, chairman of DIHC.

“The academy will be based in different venues around Dubai and will attract children aged from 8 to 18 years old. There will also be classes for adults who want to try handball for the first time,” he added.

DIHC also plans to work in collaboration with the local federation to develop the sport in the UAE which will involve both Emiratis and expats. “We plan to open it to all players where they can compete in a unified league. This will allow the UAE to achieve a league with many more teams, higher technical level, more interest from the public,” Menichetti said.

Many of might assume handball does not attract a huge popularity in the UAE especially among the semi-professional level, then we need to take a look at the way Dubai International Handball Club (DIHC) has steadily expanded their operations.

Just a year old, DIHC, which has found a sponsor in Hormann, has already seen a huge number of handball enthusiasts showing a keen interest.

“There are a large number of adults and children interested in handball and beach handball but it was not accessible to expats and their children since most of the local teams were professional and had a different training schedule.

‘I founded the team along with a group of ex-professional handballers living in Dubai after a very nice evening at Barasti. All the best teams in the world were founded in a bar,’ laughs the trophy-winning 32-year-old Italian who has been involved in the sport since the age of 11. ‘That was back in September and since then, we’ve made a lot of progress setting up teams for men, women and next up, children.’

“We have attracted over 80 regular senior players from 30 different nationalities and over 3500 followers on Facebook and established competitive senior men and women teams with regular training sessions.

“we also have hired professional handball coaches to develop the senior teams and held friendly matches with most prominent UAE and Omani professional teams (i.e. Al Seeb, Al Shabab, Al Sharjah, Al Nasr, Al Wasl, Al Jazira, Al Ahli, etc.).”

Plans are on to launch the first DIHC Beach Handball Tournament in Dubai this November and also have the First DIHC Handball Tournament in Dubai on February 2014.

Talking about beach handball, he said: “In Dubai the concept of Beach Handball is totally new. Although, there are some eloquent example of experience of Beach Handball in the region (for example Oman hosted the world cup in 2012), the sport has never been developed and made accessible to everyone.

Beach Handball is spectacular, easy to learn, fun to see and to watch where fairplay is the main value. It is the only sport where spectacular actions are rewarded with extra points.

We strongly believe that Beach handball will be incredibly successful in the region which has the advantage of a year-round fair weather and wonderful beaches and facilities.

We have started our beach handball activities touring different beaches of Dubai like JBR, Kite Beach or Palm Jumeirah back in June with DIHC senior players.

After a few games, we can already feel how the public is incredibly interested. Every time we have played on the beach, we have loads of people gathering to watch us and asking information about this exciting sport,” he said

“In October, we are planning to open the sport to everyone in the UAE and we are also planning to provide classes, training camps, courses for referees and even plan corporate events for companies to get everyone involved and spread the beach handball fun even more across the UAE. We are confident that it will achieve great success and popularity in the UAE and we look forward to this launch,

“Later this year, we are also planning to bring to Dubai internationally recognized stars players, coaches and referees and arrange a Beach Handball development event with training camps for players and courses for referees, followed by an international tournament hosted by DIHC.”