With the announcement from the IKF that Friesland will host the 2018 European Championships, captain of the Scotland National team Kyle Crombie looks at the road ahead and also takes time to reflect on the journey so far…
Even though the European Championships are just under a year away, the preparation for this critical year started months ago. A lot of work has been put in by the coaching team and the SKA Management Committee, deciding how to map out the next year to ensure the squad is in the best condition possible come October.
The squad was finalised after trials in July and welcomes some great new talent. With training weekends scheduled throughout the coming year, competitive friendlies arranged and a planned tour in Holland next summer, the level of commitment needed over the next year is demanding one but one that every member of the squad has committed to making.
With a large group full of talent, there is naturally competition for a place in the final squad and nobody is guaranteed to be aboard the plane come October. Even though we are competing against ourselves, not only for a place in the squad but for the chance to be in the starting line-up for the first matches next year, the competition has been healthy. Players are pushing each other to higher levels in training and it’s great to see the support within the training squad. This top-level mentality has led to a unity within the team and it’s a great feeling to be a part of that.
I was part of the Scotland squad who were in a similar cycle three years ago, with preparations that saw us play friendlies against Trojans and PKC. The experience was valuable and we gained a lot from playing against top level sides, however it didn’t prepare the squad for tight, hard fought matches where we would need to control games and grind out results. This was one key area that was highlighted by both the squad and coaching team for the current cycle. Matches against similar level opposition will test the team in different ways and will prepare them for the constant challenges the European Championships present.
The Stadskanaal International tournament was the first step of our preparations and is always a highlight in the calendar for Scotland Korfball. Previously we have used the tournament to welcome new team members and socialise with korfballers from around the world. This year’s tournament gave us the opportunity not only to play against exciting new teams from South America, but also teams we might face at the Championships.
The key goals for the weekend were to bond as a team, test our fitness through playing multiple matches over consecutive days and also to gain experience from competitive fixtures. With a travelling squad of 11 boys fitness wasn’t such a big problem (unfortunately though, Alex suffered an injury minutes into his first game) but it was definitely an active weekend for our 6 injury free girls.
The tournament delivered everything we had hoped for from plenty of playing time, some very close games against top quality sides and overall a 3rd place finish to be proud of. Obviously not winning the tournament was a disappointment, but we know we have plenty to work on over the coming months and October 2018 is when we want to peak as a squad not October 2017.
Up next for the squad is training in December where I’m sure we’ll debrief in more detail on the Stadskanaal tournament and identify where we need to strengthen before our next test. The next year will hold a lot of challenges for the squad not only individually but also as a team but just like the Europeans in October we’ll attack them all head on and achieve great things together as a team.
Finally I just wanted to say that since the qualifying tournament in Slovakia we’ve had a number of players leave the squad for their own reasons and I just wanted to say a huge thank you for their dedication and hard work while representing Scotland. We wouldn’t be where we are now without their efforts and the team will work hard to make those players proud.