Togo: Short in numbers, great passion on the court

In the eyes of the other beach handballnations, Togo didn’t look like a team who could pose a real threat at the Junior World Championship.

Who could blame them? Togo appeared on the sandy beach of Karteros, a few kilometres far from downtown Heraklion, with only six players, one of whom was not even wearing the national green jersey, but a phosphorescent "bib"over a white t-shirtinstead and long maroon track pants.

And yet, in Togo, the sole African team in the tournament, they love beach handball and havestarted developing the sport many years ago. Togo's coastline does not exceed 56 km in length, but the beaches are sandy and suitable for beach sports.

Handball was introduced in Togo in 1990. Eight years later, indoor handball players tried their luck at beach handball. In 2001 they travelled to the city of Akita, Japan to compete at the World Games. Beach handball was an exhibition sportthat did not attract the attention of the spectators, until the day a bunch of unknown players from Togo defeated the hosts and Lawson Late was named MVP. That turned the spotlight on them.

In 2019 in Cape Verde the men's team won the silver medal at the African Games behind Tunisia. The pandemic, however, halted their international rise.

The Word Championships in Heraklion seemed like the perfect opportunity for a restart, but the teamsuffered a setback, as the assistant coach and head of the mission, AkossiwaKafouiAdzonyoh, explains:

"A few members of the team were infected with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the days were not enough for them to show a negative test result and it was also impossible to replace them. As if that was not enough, the luggage of one of the players did not arrive on time, so we had to give him a phosphorescent bib".

When asked how many beach handball players are registered in Togo, Adzonyohdid not have a clear picture.

"In our country there is no official count and we do not keep records like in Europe. The sport is mostly practisedinclubs, while other play beach handball for leisure. We have great passion for handball, we want to develop the sport. Maybe other countries like France can help usevolve", addedAdzonyoh.








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