EUKC at BSKA Nationals 2014

Nationals 2014. Where to begin? Friday 7th March saw a disgusting 4am start for eight members of the squad who sacked off uni in order to spend the day in Norwich. The other five apparently take their degrees seriously and attended lectures/final year projects and internships with the respect and commitment they most probably deserve. The squad of eight stayed in good spirits throughout the morning flight and train journeys, the highlight being able to watch the sun rise at 39,000 feet. After our arrival in Norwich, we had a few hours to kill. Most of us took great pleasure in sneaking up ‘ninja style’ somewhat unsuccessfully upon Dynamic Fitness, eating the dinner of athletes (a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet) and being really disappointed with Norwich Castle’s glass lift. By early evening we split up, some of us desiring the blood, sweat and six-packs of the newly released ‘300’ as inspiration for the weekend to come, the rest of the squad needing a good few games of ‘Shithead’ in order to relax. When the five remaining members of the squad arrived into Norwich later that evening, all focus turned to the competition for which we’d trained all year. With some inspirational words from Coach Kyle, a good night’s sleep was finally in order.

First match of the weekend saw the much-anticipated face off between EUKC and EUKC. However, as we all know, there’s only only one real EUKC so the winner was never in any doubt. Edinburgh started off the weekend in style, with a convincing 11-4 win over Exeter. The second of the group matches was against Birmingham, eventual champions. It was a tough match and Edinburgh had some fantastic play however Birmingham managed to keep their two goal lead, coming out as 10-8 winners. The final match of the group stage ignited the age old EUKC vs Saints rivalry. Edinburgh managed to put their previous narrow loss behind them and after a shaky start soon gained control of the match. Defence was particularly outstanding and EUKC finished with an 8-6 victory, putting them second in their group behind Birmingham. Final match of the day was for a semi-final spot on the Sunday. The opponents? Southampton. Edinburgh couldn’t have hoped for a better start, quickly building a 3-0 lead. However, a couple of small defensive mistakes allowed Southampton to equalise and, smelling blood, gain the lead themselves. Unfortunately Edinburgh couldn’t conjure up a comeback in the remaining time and just missed out on a semi-final spot with the final result 5-8. Although the team was disappointed, there were many good things to take from the match and we left UEA Sportspark on the Saturday with our heads held high and a couple of good wins under our belts.

Sunday saw us fighting for 5th place. First match was pitted against Bristol. Again, we had a fantastic start and gained a 3-0 lead. However, the curse of 3-0 struck us once again as Bristol replied with a couple of drop-offs and a fantastic long shot from their Captain. The game remained tight and both sides fought well however when the final whistle blew, Edinburgh lost 8-10. A few more minutes and perhaps the result would have been different. The final 7th/8th playoff was against Cardiff, a team to whom Edinburgh had lost by one goal last year. Unlike the two previous games, we somehow found ourselves 6-0 down after several minutes. This, far from unsettling us, kicked us into gear and the comeback was insanely impressive. From 6-0 down, we ended up losing 10-11. By the time the whistle blew, we were completely dominant in both defence and attack and we knew that if we’d had 30 more seconds, we had every chance of at least drawing the match. All in all, we ended Nationals with 8th Place, losing by only two and three goals to the eventual Gold and Bronze medalists respectively. The squad effort was magnificent and we played some of the best Korfball we’d played all season. The journey back to Edinburgh went smoothly enough and we managed to suffer only one injury and a thankful lack of wheelchairs.

A few thanks are in order. Firstly to Kyle, for coaching us throughout the tournament and being the voice of inspiration. Secondly to Will who, along with Kyle, put a huge amount of effort into helping us prepare in the weeks leading up to Nationals. Thank you to Katharine who provided the squad with goody bags the night before we left. Thanks also need to go to UEA and the BSKA for organising a superb weekend. Finally, thank you to the squad for being fantastic. Ridiculously early starts, chinese buffets, cab drivers with brilliant chat, numerous games of ‘Shithead’, great Korfball, an awesome final… Nationals certainly delivered.

‘Til next year.