Heroes in a half-court

Post date: Aug 16, 2012 8:33:36 AM

The mighty Bulls swapped horns for shells for the recent Beach Korfball Tournament in Kent.

Matt Hobbs and Donna George writes:

After last year’s enjoyable debut (via a joint team with Reading) at the Broadstairs’ Tournament, this season saw increased curiosity amongst other Bulls’ squad members at the prospect of a “Beach Partii”.

This initial interest resulted in an entry to the tournament after certain individuals heard of the super-hero theme and a competition for the best costumes. There was a great deal of debate over what would suit us best, with votes for icons such as Batman, Catwoman, Captain America, The Avengers and The X-Men. Then followed the lesser known and more quirky options of Banana-man, Danger Mouse and Super-gran whilst the inspirational Olympian efforts of Ennis, Farah, Wiggins, Grainger, Adams, Jones, Ainslie, Hoy et al. resulted in a strong case for going as the “Heroic Team GB”!

Ultimately, the O’Neill clan (sadly Holly was unable to attend on the day) championed the claim for us to become a lean green fighting machine, so a “splinter” (no joke intended) group formed “The Cowabunga Korfers” in homage to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)”!

Dave used all of his experience garnered from korfball chairmanship and delegated like Lord Sebastian Coe himself. Natalie (ably assisted by Lucy) oversaw costume design and manufacture and Donna (who also did all of Dave’s organisational work) took on the tricky task of creating an impressive arsenal of weapons, along with some fancy belts and buckles. Despite only using a fraction of the London 2012 budget, the results were awesome!

Knowing it was going to be a long drive (approx. 2 and a half hours) the magnificent seven (Dave, Donna, Em, Lucy, Matt, Natalie and Viktor) set off just after 7 a.m. with Natalie and Viktor kindly offering to drive. A quick stop for breakfast was only marred by some lunatic travelling over 100 M.P.H. cutting up both cars as they came out of the motorway services. Only Natalie and Viktor’s quick reactions saved everyone from a dangerous situation. Undeterred, the team journeyed on with the glorious weather suggesting it was still going to be a fantastic day.

After negotiating the rabbit warren of local roads and being amused by Natalie doing four or five rotations on a round-about, as she waited for Viktor to catch up, we eventually arrived at Joss Bay and set-up base camp. In traditional Basingstoke fashion there was always going to be a slight hitch in proceedings (think back to last year’s MK hurricane and this season’s trip to Cardiff just to have lunch) so we were not really surprised to find that we had left all of the gazebo connectors back home. Despite the cynicism of our two engineers (Lucy and Natalie) and under the instruction of Mother Hen (Donna) a few of us attempted to create a Blue Peter style shelter out of the metal poles and some gaffer tape (sorry Aid). Despite everyone’s best efforts (possibly an exaggeration) the result was not a “Temple for Sun Worship” but more an accurate representation of the sewer home that the original TMNT inhabited (we were really going all out for the best costume prize)! It did however double-up as a very impressive seagull trap. In the meantime Em was demonstrating the most important aspect of this Kent tournament by having perfectly mastered the skill of sunbathing!

Before the pre-tournament announcements, the team kitted up with two players each doubling up as one of the TMNT characters to ensure their respective personality traits were properly represented: Leonardo (Dave and Matt), Donatello (Donna and Em), Michelangelo (Natalie and Viktor), whilst Lucy felt she could adequately cover all aspects of Raphael on her own ;-)

Upon realising that two other teams were sharing the same theme as us, it was quite satisfying to have them concede that we had achieved “Turtle Domination” by outdoing them all in the costume and weapon department. The hand-stitched abs and shells, along with the home-made nun-chucks and individual belt buckles made our opponents “green with envy”. It was soon time to “grab a pizza the action” in proper TMNT style and we entered into one of three pools of four teams.

Up first was Supernova (who didn’t adopt a theme as they felt their name was enough) though they did not make it in time to start the fixture. We were therefore pitted against a scratch team with whom we held our own until Supernova arrived (with enough players for three teams). The tide turned as they used rapid substitutions to keep players fresh and we struggled to adapt to the subtle nuances of beach korfball. With his previous experience Dave soon found his feet and scored two important goals, yet at the end of the match we were 3-2 down. It was then that Em showed her quick thinking and that it can be worthwhile to read competition rules. She approached the ref and organisers to ask about Supernova’s later arrival and a subsequent penalty. This resulted in 2 further points being awarded to us and a 4-3 victory being recorded - meaning that Em scored our most important goals of the day without even shooting!

The second match saw us up against our closest rivals for the costume prize as Tiny Tom’s Team towered over us in their Incredible Hulk garb and body paint (much of which ended up transferred onto us). Initially this looked like a challenge too far and we expected a real struggle. However, everyone suddenly seemed to be on the same page and a new style of korfball was born. As our opponents attempted to play in a conventional manner, we embraced the sand and difficult running conditions to look for clever passes, rapid shots and diving ball recoveries. Quite simply our opponents were blown away and we ran out 6-0 winners with Viktor capping the performance with a two pointer to join Natalie and Lucy on the score-sheet alongside Dave’s second brace.

The final pool match was against Holly’s Incredibles (Miss O’Neill had not changed allegiances in favour of the more flattering red Lycra look) and this was a nail-biter with both teams rapidly switching from attack to defence and numerous near misses. Dave retained his goal-scoring form and Viktor added a second with us managing to hold on for a 2-2 draw.

We stopped for lunch and took full advantage of the opportunity to improve our tans, although a few wary souls were plastered in so much sun block that they ended up paler than they began. Some of the team tested their heroism and patience by opting to queue for food but there was still time for impromptu fighting amongst team-mates due to the abundance of weapons temptingly laying on the floor. We were soon celebrating as we realised that we had made it into the top pool for the final round of games.

The afternoon’s matches saw a sluggish start (where we played more like tortoises according to Lucy) after a leisurely break and we lost 3-1 to the Lotuses. Despite an even game, the korfing gods were not supportive of the ball dropping in our favour. The mood was lifted by Donna scoring her first of the day yet still managing to engage in her usual social networking…

The second game was to be a rematch against the Incredibles and this proved to be an even more entertaining affair as we finally mastered the ideas of making quick substitutions without leaving our opponents undefended. Some impressive finishing from Lucy and Viktor, along with another two for Dave (including what was described as probably the strangest goal ever seen) put the team ahead. However, it was the 1 in a million chance 2 pointer from Matt that broke their spirit and meant that it was the Incredi-Bulls who won 6-3.

The final game saw another unlucky loss with us putting up far more shots than our opponents but to no avail. They made the most of having many more players in their squad and eventually won the match 2-0.

There were very pleasing performance in all of our matches as we finished joint second and we received a lot of praise from our opponents for maximising the fun side of competition along with great respect for our unique style of exciting beach korfball. The organisers were particularly appreciative of our efforts having posted their thanks on the korfball forum and gratefully acknowledging our presence on the day…

We were left “shell-shocked” however when only placing second in the costume competition. Despite receiving great credit for the creativity and skill shown in producing our outfits, we were trumped by the” Incredible Hulks”, who sacrificed a tan by covering themselves in green paint. We will return…

The tournament was rounded off with a bit more sun-bathing for some, whereas others risked the cold water and tried to swim to the wind-farm. Viktor did his best impression of David Hasselhoff and Donna’s multi-functional attire brought back memories of the budgie-smuggling lifeguard wannabe who caused such a stir last year ;-)

An enjoyable meal in great company capped off a fantastic day for all who made the trip and emphasised that this is one of the best summer tournaments on the calendar. Hopefully next year will have us entering two teams and sharing the fun with even more squad members. Cowabunga!!!!

Player Round-up

Donna-tello – made full use of her impressive calves (as described by Em) to stand tall and regularly shut down her opponent. Despite having the tippy-toe stance of a sprinter, Donna focused on striking the right balance between relaxing in the sun and playing some seriously impressive korfball. A beautiful goal capped off her day and she made sure that all the kids had a good time but packed everything properly before they returned home. Huge respect for the sai and nun-chuck designs, though it was her dedication to swim in the ocean that gained the most admiration!

Em – this is the sort of korfball tournament that seems designed for Em. A fantastic beach, great weather, friendly yet competitive matches all added up to her having a brilliant day. If only Mr Tobs could have joined her – he would have made a superb team mascot (we could have dressed him up as Splinter). Em’s quick-thinking and knowledge of the rules was the difference in us winning our first game and she somehow once again managed to find another international player to impressively match- up against. She was her usual superb self around the post and added the diving rebound to her impressive range of skills in the collect position.

Natalie – played with so much grace and poise that the real Michelangelo would have wanted to sculpt her. Natalie started the day as a true superhero when responding to the car incident and continued with some excellent korfball and a lovely goal. Probably deserved the best costume prize more than anyone else at the tournament and helped ensure that there was a brilliant atmosphere for all throughout the day. She often seemed to respond quicker than any of her team mates when possession was turned over, moving to the corner before others realised we had the ball. We greatly appreciated her generosity in driving to Kent as well.

Lucy – definitely had the most coordinated outfit amongst the team (the false red eyelashes and green nails were classy touches). Lucy played with her usual gusto and passion, scoring some impressive goals throughout the day and demonstrated an unbelievable ability to run at pace in the sand. She was remarkably restrained for the majority of the day but still retained the catchphrase “Don’t make her angry, you won’t like her when she’s angry…” despite the presence of the Incredible Hulk team. One nasty clash and knock to her ear saw Lucy play on through significant pain but it was only seeing referees sitting down that really riled her ;-)

Dave – provided a goal-scoring master-class throughout the day, amassing a stunning seven goals in total and topping the tournament charts. Words can not do justice to his breathtaking running-in shot where he recreated Natalie’s earlier roundabout adventure by circling the feed 5 times in one go, leaving his opponent dizzy (along with the rest of us), before finishing with a balletic one-handed effort. “What the shell?” was the most appropriate response. Awesome!

Viktor – was the other generous soul who drove to the coast. You could tell that he was truly up for this tournament as he went to great effort to find matching green shorts to properly complete his costume. Despite the difficulties associated with playing on sand Viktor was regularly able to conjure up his stunning drop-off shot and chipped in with a fair few goals and rebounds throughout the day including a breathtaking two pointer. He gained even more respect for his swimming exploits and truly made the most of our day at the beach!

Matt – loves to play korfball on the beach and was happiest diving after the ball (even with only Natalie throwing it for him) after a frustrating period of injury. Despite a telling off from Mama Donna after he wiped out two players in one go and serious concern that the rules may have changed following a referee’s confusion over his diving, he still enjoyed the day immensely and even scored an incredibly lucky two pointer.

Thanks go to all the Cowabunga Korfers along with their opponents, referees and the organisers for making it another brilliant tournament!