Egypt reached the final at the maiden Four-a-Side Wheelchair Handball World Championship held in Cairo before going down to Brazil to finish with a silver medal.
Egypt won four of their five matches to meet the Brazilians in the final whom they had lost to 2-0 in the preliminary rounds.
In the final, Brazil won the first set 8-6 but Egypt responded by winning the second 7-6 after which a third five-minute set ended in a draw. In penalties, Brazil won 6-3.
The Egyptian team was formed only two months ago as wheelchair handball is a newly introduced sport in the Paralympics. A number of wheelchair basketball players were chosen and trained on the basics and rules of handball.
Egypt hosted this first world championship at the Hassan Mustafa Complex in 6th of October with the participation of five teams in addition to the host: Brazil, India, Slovenia, Chile and The Netherlands.
“We are very happy to host the first International Handball Federation (IHF) Four-a-Side Wheelchair Handball World Championship,” Egypt’s Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi said. “Egypt always welcomes its guests and we are willing to host any sports event at any time. We have a number of top sports facilities that meet international standards in almost every sport. I am very satisfied with the Egyptian handball wheelchair team as they were up to the challenge and exerted their utmost ever to reach the final and secure the silver medal. I also thank the IHF for choosing Egypt to host the event and for their continuous support for our paralympians.”
President of the Egyptian Paralympics Committee Hossameddin Mustafa: “We have made history. It is a great achievement and this is what I told the players who were upset after the match. They were up to the challenge and they performed well against teams that have been training for years while ours is new. Wheelchair handball competitions are recent and are to be included in the Paris 2024 Paralympics. At least 25 countries should be playing the game. We have a good chance to build a strong team that can secure a medal in the coming Paris Paralympics.”
“We are very happy to have the first edition of this championship in Egypt,” added Hassan Mustafa, International Handball Federation (IHF) president. “Egypt has always been a pioneering country and will always be as President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is giving a helping hand in hosting any sports event in Egypt even in the most serious times as the coronavirus. Also the sports facilities in Egypt made it very easy for the country to host any international event.”
The Brazilian team were very happy with the achievement, the only unbeaten team all through the competition. They did not drop a set in the round phase, winning all five games in straight sets.
“We are very honoured to represent Brazil in this competition,” player Eliana Lima said. “We dreamt a lot about it. We have been training hard and dreaming about the moment we were going to be here. While the pandemic cancelled previous competitions, this has been our objective. It is an amazing feeling to be here, and it is just beautiful that we can play for the gold medal,” said Lima, a former physical education trainer in the Brazilian Army.
The South Americans are the most experienced team in the championship, having first played in 2005.They had both the time and the means to create a good team, with plenty of chemistry and experience. Marcelo Amaral was top shot-stopper in Egypt 2022 with 50 saves in five games. Egypt’s Magdi Abbas was top scorer with 37 points.
Earlier Slovenia clinched the bronze medal with a 2-0 (7:6, 6:2) win over Chile.
Guilherme Lourenco, who scored 36 points, was selected Male MVP of the tournament, while Dutch goalkeeper Joyce van Haaster who had 38 saves was chosen Female MVP.
Portugal will host the second IHF Four-a-Side Wheelchair Handball World Championship.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.