Scotland coach Beth Bennett reflects on the European Championships

Scotland coach Beth Bennett has praised her team for a commendable finish in the recent European Championships in Portugal. The team, which included players from Edinburgh and Glasgow korfball clubs, ended a best ever 11th place position.

Having come through a pre-qualifying tournament in Slovakia the year before, the Scots – who were the lowest seeds in the 16 team competition – were not expected to qualify from a group including Hungary, Slovakia and Ireland, but having beaten both the Irish and Slovakia, finished 2nd in the group. They then defeated Turkey in the first knockout round.

Despite losing to Germany to end their hopes of a top 10 finish and automatic qualification for the World Championships, a second comfortable victory over Ireland guaranteed a top 11 finish and means Scotland should be first reserve for the World’s.

Scotland coach, Beth Bennett, admitted the main aim within the camp had been to make the top 10 but said their final placing would have surprised many: “I would imagine the expectations from those outside of Scotland Korfball would be that we would be in the bottom two so we have exceeded their expectations”

Beth was pleased with how the team gelled over the course of the tournament. “The squad has spent 12 months training together and pushing each other. Competition for starting places was tough unlike four years ago when we struggled to put out a complete squad. They’ve come together as a unit and were all encouraging and positive towards each other”

Following the tournament, Scotland have risen five places to 18th in the World rankings and the coach says that the challenge is to break into the next tier of nations like Hungary and Poland. However, she accepts there are challenges to overcome.

“We really need a bigger base of players. Korfball is growing in Scotland but the lack of publicity, funds and people available to establish clubs makes it hard… This [tournament] has boosted the level of korfball in Scotland but to maintain and grow from here requires time, effort and finances as the players get no funding from the UK.”

For anyone interested in taking up the sport, there is a genuine chance of representing Scotland in the not-too-distant future and help the country rise up the rankings. “The [current] squad contains two players who have only played for three years. The last Europeans also saw some relative newcomers to the game who have come on to play major roles at these Championships,” confirms Beth.

“Some of the England national side began playing at University having had previous experiences with basketball or netball. When a sport with a small player base needs a National team then natural talent and dedication can take you a long way.”

For further information on your nearest club, details can be found online at Scotland Korfball.

Andy Harrow

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