Last month, Cardiff City sent a squad to compete at the IKF Europa Cupa Preliminary Rounds.
Victory in the Welsh Korfball League Gala Day meant the Cyclones team qualified for the early season Europa cup preliminary round.
The squad – many of whom were making their debut at international level – travelled to the beautiful Loire region of southern France on Friday following a series of training sessions to ensure they were as prepared as possible.
The five team tournament included teams from Turkey, Serbia, France, Scotland and Wales. It was a round robin tournament with the top two teams progressing to the European Cup in early 2013.
The first opponents were Nazilli Belediyesi from Turkey who had a distinct height and reach advantage! Despite this, Cyclones completed well early on but better ball recycling by the Turkish team saw them take the lead early on.
The game proved a tough wake-up call for those players in their first international tournament, with different refereeing styles and levels of contact to adjust to.
Saturday morning saw the Cyclones pitched against Serbian champions Beograd, who had racked up a big early score in their previous game, and Cyclones were determined not to suffer a similar punishment.
With first-game nerves banished, Cyclones were able to give them a stern test and blunted their free-scoring routine completely. However, numerous missed short shot chances, free passes and penalties summed up the ultimate difference in the teams ability to put the ball away and three goals for Beograd in the last three minutes of the first half gave them the half time lead.
Cyclones remained unfazed and stuck to their defensive task, and after some well worked strategic attacks including a faked switch for the girls and a few scored goals by Julie, Cyclones had pegged Beograd back to a one goal lead by 45 minutes. Considering that that Beograd went on to win the tournament, the Cyclones players were proud of their efforts in this game.
Saturday afternoon saw the viewing gallery fill up as the locals of Montrond-les-Bains turned up to see the Welsh champions take on Bonson, the hosts. As well as the support, Bonson has easily the largest squad, and home venue advantage. Nonetheless, with Cyclones’ disciplined structure and good all round pace, the ball just wouldn’t drop. Two pretty long shots from Elaine Dunlop, good ball movement from Stuart Wood and a lovely late rally from Ramzi were to the high points of the game.
Sunday morning saw the final game against St Andrews University, and the team needed no extra motivation for this one. The Welsh team started the game with a long shot from Ruth and their attacking moves had much more flow, and the shot clock had been mastered. A much more assured shooting performance was had by all including a lovely long shot hat-trick from Cheya Tyson- accompanied by lovely long shot goals from Rich and Taff. Considering all their banter on the shared plane ride over to France, it was nice to settle the score so convincingly with an 11-5 win.
Cyclones finished fourth out of five, with Bonson and Beograd going through to the next round in January.
Cardiff City Korfball Club is very proud of the team performance, where everyone played a huge part in a great team effort.
A big thanks also goes out to Dankmar Caderius van Veen for popping on down from Holland to be our match coach for the weekend, his tactical awareness (and ‘helpful’ suggestions to the linesman) were invaluable throughout in getting the best out of the squad.
David ‘Taff’ Thomas
To view the results of the matches visit www.worldkorfball.org