DUBAI – Come December and two of Europe’s biggest teams, nine-time European Champions League winners FC Barcelona Handbol and 2016 continental champions PGE Vive Kielce, will land in Dubai to battle for a prize-purse of $500,000 in the inaugural “500 Super Final Handball”.
Being organised under the aegis of Dubai Sports Council, the 500 Super Final will be held in Dubai every December for five years, with this year’s match scheduled for December 21. The winners of the match will return home with $300,000 and a glittering trophy, while the losing team will receive $200,000.
Details of the 500 Super Final Handball were announced at a press conference on Tuesday at the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), in the presence of HE Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC, Slawek Gebka, the owner of the event, and representatives of the two clubs, including star players Lasse Andersson and Wael Jallouz of Barcelona, and Krzysztof Lijewski and Michal Jurecki of Polish club Vive Kielce.
Speaking on the occasion, HE Hareb said: “Dubai is host to a number of top-class sporting extravaganzas and we believe the 500 Super Final will surely make that list, with two of Europe’s most popular handball teams competing for the honours. We will be waiting in anticipation.”
Describing the 500 Super Final as an “ambitious long-term project”, Gebka said: “I am privileged to be sitting here today, in the midst of this great group of people, to announce together this exciting news about our project, the 500 Super Final Handball, which has an astronomical prize purse of $500.000.
“We have a five-year deal with the International Handball Federation to stage this tournament, with the possibility to renew, and I am proud to announce that our home for the 500 Super Final Handball for all these five years will be the very prestigious Dubai World Trade Centre.”
The winners of this year’s Super Final will earn an automatic spot in next year’s match, for which the second team has already been finalised.
“I can officially confirm that the team who will play in the 2019 500 Super Final Handball, against the winner of 2018, will be Telekom Veszprem HC of Hungary,” said Gebka. “I would also like to announce that if a team wins this title three times in a row, they will receive an additional bonus of $300,000.”
Gebka also said the 500 Super Final is part of a bigger project through which he hopes to see kids here playing handball in greater numbers and, to give these kids a strong foundation in the game, they have roped in Frenchman Bertrand Gille, considered one of the best pivots to ever play the game, as Director of Youth Development in the UAE.
“We are not afraid of failures and we are willing to take chances to make this game exciting, fun and educational for the viewers around the world,” said Gebka, who expects the match will be broadcast live around the globe.
“We want to see them enjoy this great sport of handball by producing fantastic entertainment around the game. But most importantly, we want youths here in the UAE to get interested by bringing the world’s best handball players here, and the world’ best clubs, and they will come here with a positive message.
“I believe if you create the right environment for any sport, and awareness and opportunities on a professional level, success will come sooner or later. You need to be patient, but you need to be absolutely determined.
“My only request is to give us time to produce what we have come here to do. Please don’t judge us today. It will be a long, hard journey but the partners sitting with us here today will make it much easier.”
Gille, who has won two Olympic gold medals, two World Championships titles and a World Player of the Year (2002) gong, concurred with Gebka and said: “Handball is a very popular sport in Europe, but it suffers from its regionalism. It is present almost exclusively in Europe and the challenge is to see it develop in all the countries of the world in the coming years.
“For this reason, we, along with Slawek Gebka, came up with a project to develop this sport in your territory. It is a project that aims to combine several elements, with the ultimate goal being to increase the number of handball players in the United Arab Emirates.
“Among other things, we will organise regular inter-school competitions so that the spirit of competition is also present. In addition, we will organise regular training courses with teams from European countries, who come here to participate in the 500 Super Final Handball match.
“The 500 Super Final Handball must be the showcase of this educational project and must be the focus that allows children to nurture dreams of performing at a higher level.”