Sunday, 29 September 2013

Korfball: A Newbie Writes

We’re on the cusp of a new season and three-quarters of people at the club are raring to go. The rest of us – the newbies – are still trying to work out what the hell’s going on.

When will I ever grasp this idea of changing ends? Why am I eyeballing my attacker like a boggle-eyed drunk? Is it vital to run sideways like the spaceship from Space Invaders? All these questions popped into my head at last Thursday’s training session.
Two months ago I started looking for a sport to learn, for a few reasons. I recently started working at home so I wanted to get out of the house and meet some real people; I wanted to get fitter to keep pace with the manic baby that’s been terrorising my house for the last 16 months; and I only moved to the city a couple of years ago so I'm on the lookout for opportunities for nights out.
But why korfball? Well, partly because I like the idea of a sport where men and women compete together; and partly because the club trains very close to my house. Equality is important, but so is a quick walk home.
So I came along to a training session and enjoyed it. I managed to score during my first session, with a shot that gets further out each time I think about it, and that helped to immediately boost my confidence. And I decided to stick with it because everybody I’ve met so far - both from City and deadly local rivals Isis - has been friendly and supportive of those of us who are total novices.
I’m still in the early stages where each week brings a couple of small breakthroughs. It could be a half-decent interception, finally scoring with a running in shot, or managing to get through a whole session without knocking somebody over like an over-enthusiastic Labrador. Yes, it's small progress, but at least it's progress. And if I keep it up then maybe I'll end up as one of those people who knows what's going on. 

I'd better keep practising my Space Invaders footwork.
Rich Heap

Monday, 2 September 2013

Didcot Tournament - As it happened...

Saturday was the last summer tournament before the new season starts, so we wanted to finish the tournament season on a high, and boy we did.
The bright sunshine set the tone for what would be a great day, and credit to Didcot for arranging a great venue.  Special mention to all the players that came along for their first tournaments – I thought Francis, Brendan, Alex & Chris did brilliantly against some excellent opposition, and it was great to see Gary back.  Charlotte had clearly been practising at a mystic korfball monastery in Cambodia as well during the summer!  Thanks for coming down to watch Jo and Steve, it was great to have the extra support on the sidelines.
City 1 began the day slowly, conceding two early goals against a pumped up Didcot team.  However, with a resilience that set the tone for the day, we pulled back on level terms through a running in shot from Ev, and a long shot from Dan, before another long shot from Dave sealed a deserved victory.  Next up was a strong Old Badgers side.  Déjà vu set in with another early 2 nil down scoreline, but a double whammy of long shots from Dave, Ev brought us level before a great late in the day long shot from Simon put another 3 points in the bag.  The final morning game for City 1 was against one of the four Highbury teams, and it was a high scoring match.  In the spirit of generosity, we gave our opponents another 2 nil lead, to make a game of it.  Straight after the restart, a quick fire running in shot from Dan started the comeback, before another Highbury long shot delayed it!  A 3-1 deficit against a motivated Highbury side was daunting, but we’d already shown twice that we could turn things around.  Another long shot from Ev began the comeback, before we then equalized through some quick thinking from Ruth.  From that point there was only going to be one winner, with great defence from Dave, Ev, Francis & Ruth while the rest of us peppered the Highbury basket.  A penalty from Becca finally made the breakthrough, before another running in shot from Dan sealed the victory – it must have been the practise on Thursday Gaz!  City 1 group winners!
City 2 had a great morning, with almost half the team playing their first ever competitive matches!  First up was Abingdon, and while the scoreline was a 6-2 defeat, with goals from Dan and (I think) Charlotte, there was some great defending, with Brendan tracking runners like a shadow, and Alex getting stuck in!  (I'm sure the Highbury player will remember you Alex!)  In the next game, there were lots of goals against City, and no goals for, versus Hghbury (without an I), but considering they went on to be group winners, there was no shame in that.  The final morning game was against another London side, Harrow.  Dan decided this was a good opportunity to demonstrate to our newer players the kind of things not to do, by conceding a penalty, and three free passes for contact.  Good times.  Harrow went 4 nil up, before Chris setup Jo for a long shot that dropped nicely into the basket.  Final score, 4-1.
In the afternoon, City 1 were placed in the top pool  and first up were Hghbury without an I.  Sensing an opportunity for club revenge, we got stuck in.  Special mention here to Francis for great defending against a very wily opponent.  In fact, defending was the order of the day, with the division of Ev, Ruth, Dave & Francis repulsing wave after wave of attacks.  With Hghbury frustrating our attack, the game was heading to a nil nil stalemate before a late running in shot from Dan gave us the win that our overall workrate deserved.  It’s always great to hear the opposition getting angry!  Next up was Abingdon, who unfortunately completed a double over City, completing a 5-3 victory over us, with consolation goals coming from a penalty queen Becca, another running in shot from Dan, and a running in shot from Ruth.  A repeat fixture against Old Badgers was next, and they gained revenge for the morning with a narrow 4-3 defeat – there was great attacking from Dave (one goal) and Ev (two goals), but some wily defending and good use of height advantage frustrated the rest of our attack.  A slightly heatstruck and dispirited City 1 went on to then lose 2 nil to an excellent Mauritians side, who went on be crowned overall winners.  The final game of the day was against Farnborough, and City 1 were determined to finish in the same spirit they started the day.  And what a game it was.  A goal from Dan opened the scoring, and then the floodgates opened.  In the best move of the day (in my opinion anyway!), Dan stood in feed, dropping the ball off to Becca as she sprinted past having completely lost her player.  As the other Farnborough defender came out to switch defend, Becca casually threw the ball to Jo, who had moved to the perfect position to execute a textbook drop off shot.  Lovely.  As someone said, “That was almost like a move we’d practised!”.  Dave then got in the action with two typically good long shots, followed by Dan scoring from close in.  A consolation goal from Farnborough was the signal for Francis to emonstrate his long shot prowess, sinking two great goals from either side of the korf.  Boom!  At some point in all that Ruth also scored, with the final score a massive 8-1 to City, which was the most goals scored by any side on the day, and the largest goal difference in the tournament.  Great way to finish!
City 2 started the afternoon with a narrow 2-1 defeat against Highbury, with Charlotte scoring our goal.  The result was a fair reflection of how well we competed against an experienced side, and massive kudos to our new players for stepping up.  At this point, the heat had started to get to me, so my recollection of games was less clear as I regularly retreated to the shade of our gazebo, but there was a 3 nil loss to a skilful Bearsted team, and an impressive 2 nil defeat to an Isis team containing many of their first team players, followed by a defeat with the same scoreline against home favourites Didcot.  One of things that struck me during the day was how well our new players were picking up the subtleties of play during the matches.  Training’s great, but there’s no substitute for learning by trying to attack and defend against experienced players in a match environment.  It was clear so see how well the team had developed in the final game, with a penalty from Charlotte and a goal from Jo giving City 2 a deserved 2-1 victory against Harrow – get in!! 
Overall results were 5th for City 1 (2nd highest Oxfordshire side after Abingdon) and 12th for City 2.
Overall scorers for the day:
Dan (7), Ev (5), Dave (5), Ruth (3), Charlotte (3), Jo (3), Becca (2), Francis (2), Simon (1), Taissa (1)
Thanks to everyone that came along on the day to both play and spectate – it was an awesome way to end the summer tournament season, and the level of skill on display across both teams bodes really well for our upcoming league season.
The party in the evening was excellent, with past, present and honoury City players celebrating in their customary style!  I have no worries about the stamina levels of our club!  Mid season liver transplants may be required though…  The non-existent prize for best costume went to Arge’s wife, who came as a One Man Band.  Some excellent creativity with letter swapping was also on display towards the end of the evening.  Thanks guys.
Cheers everyone for a great day and evening!
OCKC Chairman