Today was the biggest game I have ever played in, and we still have our “grand final” to come. But more on that later.
We had a 6:00pm game, which again meant a later start, not that there are any complaints from this night owl. Training was again at the same venue, which is starting to feel very familiar. The highlight of training was undoubtedly the game of half-court “Bump”. For those who aren’t aware, Bump is a shooting game where the object is to knock out the person in front of you by scoring first. The half-court signifies where the first shot had to be taken from. Needless to say, there were many interesting efforts at such a long shot, as well as a few successful attempts. Games like this are a good way to blow off steam, and help us relax enormously. Following training, we had a recovery session in the hotel pool, where Ash and Adam were both accosted by some of the kids also staying in the hotel, and coerced into playing splashing games, much to the kids’ delight. The recovery session helped a lot, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we felt much better after the session.
After the obligatory team meeting, where we looked at some footage of today’s opponents, the Czech Republic, we then headed into the stadium, our third and final playing venue. The Lotto Arena, as it is known, is in Antwerp, and is quite close to our hotel, meaning much shorter bus rides. The stadium is amazing, with seating for over 5000, and a court which is just korfball. For those who haven’t seen a normal korfball court, there are normally lines from multiple sports all over the court, sometimes including, as the case is in Australia, masking tape being used for korfball markings. The court at Lotto Arena has none of this, and only has korfball markings, which is an unreal experience in itself. It is easily the best facility I have ever played korfball in, and probably ever will play in.
Our game tonight was an absolute roller coaster from start to finish. We weren’t given much of a chance heading into the game, as the Czech Republic are a traditionally strong country. However, we played out of our skins, and stuck it to our much more fancied opponents for 51 minutes, being down by as many as 4 goals in a low scoring game, before coming back. Keen observers will have noted that a korfball game normally only goes for 50 minutes…unfortunately, we lost in golden goal, for a final score of 17-16. This is the third international golden goal I have been involved with, and the second loss, and they never get any easier. However, we have to hold our heads up and be proud of what we achieved, as we played the game of our lives, and took it to a team we theoretically should not have been able to hold a candle to. We pushed and rattled a good team, and we have to be happy with that achievement.
What this means is we will play Hong Kong again, this time for 11th and 12th place. This match is also a play-off for the last World Games qualification spot, so we have a lot to play for. We have a rest day tomorrow, and then our “grand final” the day after. As always, all the match info will be available on the National Teams page, which will also include live streams, once we have the information. For everything else, remember to keep checking the Facebook page to keep up to date.