This year saw the University of Birmingham’s Korfball Club create a 4th team for the first time, and they were the only fourth team who qualified and competed for the coveted BUCS shield. This meant they were faced with the formidable task of competing against 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams, whom were significantly more experienced. With the majority of the team comprised of first years and third years who had only taken up the sport this year, Birmingham went into the tournament not knowing exactly what to expect.
The 19th March came around and moral was high. Motivation and smiles were bouncing across the mini bus on route to Manchester for the first BUCs competition for some, and the last for others. Tensions were running high in anticipation of the first game. Live streams were set up for the games meaning that the whole club could get behind the team from the comfort of their own homes. With dedicated members projecting the streams onto bedroom walls whilst completing deadlines.
The day began with a challenging game against Kent 3’s. However, this did not phase the squad with strong attack and pressure in defence. Excellent teamwork resulted in the first goal being scored from Brown making it 1-0 to Birmingham. This long shot seamlessly arced through the air, not even touching the Korf, which was a great to start the day. Strong collects enabled a dominating attack. Tight defending from both teams meant the game finished with a well-earned draw of 1-1.
Birmingham’s overall game was together and they had settled nicely into play. The squad were raring for the next match against Strathclyde. After forewarning of their tendency to run in to claim goals Birmingham adapted their style of play to ensure that these were prevented. With a confident squad Birmingham were able to fight back from 2-0 down at half time. A high arching shot from Bennell near the halfway line made the crowd roar with excitement. Adkins and Brown also contributed to the growing goal count. With five minutes to go the score line read a mouth-watering 3-3. The crowd were ecstatic. The tension of the last few moments could have been cut with a knife and the pressure was building meaning that nerves were high. Strathclyde made the most of their experienced players and were able to successfully pull ahead and finish the game with the final score reading of 5-3 in Strathclyde’s favour.
The next game was against Nottingham 2’s. Nottingham lived up to their reputation by providing a strong defence. However, this did not phase Baker and Raithatha who were dominant in collect. This coupled with Elgar’s tight defending meant that shots and runners were hard for Notts. Brum kept up their pressure in defence and blocked a large majority of feeds and runners. Strong defence from the entire squad meant that the final score was kept low, ending 3:0 to Notts, who later went on to win the Shield. An impressive performance against by far the best team in the competition.
The penultimate game of the day was against Leeds 2’s. Birmingham started in attack with perfectly set up feeds and collects however shots would not sink. Six minutes into the game Birmingham were 2-0 down with Leeds scoring perfect long shots. Olalla came back, scoring a perfect runner. Rowden’s dominating attack and strong collects throughout with the squads’ attitude of “who needs a collect, when we all aim to collect” enabled shots to be taken whenever an opportunity arose. As a team Birmingham were getting stronger allowing for the arching long shots to be scored. This was displayed in Freedman’s long shot 12 minutes in. Strong assists from Rowden and West meant that attack was dominated. In the final few moments Leeds unfortunately scored a runner meaning the game ended, in a heart breaking fashion, 3-2 to Leeds.
With the final game of the day round the corner, and some members final Korfball game ever, Birmingham were determined to win. Sheffield 2’s were intensely warming up and then the whistle blew, it was now or never. Fatigue began to kick in but this did not stop us. The game began. Less than a minute in Adkin’s scored a beautiful drop off shot from a rebound. With West’s feed set up Brown was able to score a sinking shot. Strong defence from Elgar and West combined with strong collects from Rowden meant that the ball was consistently in Brum’s attacking side. Baker scored an arching long shot resulting in a score of 3-1 to Birmingham. Smiles were beaming and Birmingham were consistently providing strong attacks and defence enabling another goal to be scored from Birmingham. Solid interceptions and consistent defending from Elks and Glover meant Birmingham were claiming Sheffield’s shots. The whistle blew and the last game of the day for some of people’s university lives was a triumphant win of 4-2 to Birmingham. The squad ran together to celebrate and exclaim happiness at the outcome, the entire team was overjoyed. The day couldn’t have ended on a higher note.
The whole team and support were elated in realisation of a final win for the day. Birmingham finished placing 4th in their group, not qualifying for the next round, but there was a great sense of achievement for the squad as Birmingham were the only 4th team competing at such a high standard. The new creation and entry of our fourth team into BUCs is a huge success and testament to how far the club has progressed and grown in popularity in recent years. Excellent teamwork from all participants saw the day to be a success. As a squad Birmingham were gateful for all of the hardwork of their coaches Bryony, Sam and Beth for their wise tips and strategies.
4th team captain, Amy Baker- “This was such a great weekend to finish playing Korfball for university with a strong team and every member giving 110%. I could not be happier.”