It’s been just over a week since Mavs returned from Belgium and back to normal life. I was very proud to be asked to captain the squad at the Europa Cup as korfball is a big part of my life. In Belgium I was asked why I joined Mavericks back in 2010 after my 2 years with Edinburgh University had come to an end, and its strange to think that all it took to bribe me to join was the prospect of a new strip as at the time Mavericks were on the edge of folding. I would turn up to training to find 3 other people there and at times was asked to coach and sort out divisions for matches. In some matches I found myself playing in a division of 3 as the only girl but for some reason I stuck it out. I knew something had to be done as finances were low due to the lack of players and interest. So with a massive push to bring in new players and people who I knew would be leaving university, slowly but surely we recruited enough to have a proper team and training. As the next few years went by the club found itself flooded with new players and we had the introduction of Mavs 2 in 2013. This was a massive achievement considering when I started we had 3 or four players at training now we average 15- 20.
When we won the season 2013/2014 I was over the moon, and the thought of heading to the Europa Cup was a fantastic prospect. In the run up to the tournament the team worked hard both at training and outside to be on top form, very hard to do when Christmas and New Year are the two weeks before the tournament. The squad we picked to take to Europa was made up of players of mixed experience. A couple of us had played at international level before but most of the squad had never played on a full size court or even with a shot clock. Our newest member of the quad had only been playing for 15 months.
Before our first match everyone was pretty nervous as we knew Kocaeli University (from Turkey) would be the strongest team Mavs had ever played before. The team showed an amazing performance. Nothing fazed the team at all, full size court or shot clock. We had moments of magic but at times we found it hard to score. I think we gave the Turkish side a great game and we found ourselves getting into the game just a little too late and lost 11- 7. Although I think if we had had 10 more minutes it might have been a different story.
Our next match was against the English champions Trojans. Again everyone was nervous but excited. It was a great game and again Mavs gave everything they had till the final whistle but the English side were too strong for us. Sadly Ian had injured his ankle during the game and we found ourselves a boy down on the squad.
After losing our 2 group games we now faced French side Bonson for 9th and 10th place. Mavs were determined we weren’t going to go down without a fight. After losing the first match 11-16 we knew how much each of us wanted to win the second. An emotional team chat from coach Steve sent us on the court with the belief we could win. Our performance in the game was fantastic and we learnt from our mistakes the day before and didn’t give away as many penalties. We were down 8-5 at half time but we managed to bring it back to 8-8 with goals from Elliot and Werner. I thought this is it, we are going to win it. Sadly this wasn’t the case, Bonson went on a scoring spree and the match ended 17-9.
On the Saturday we had a day off and we went to watch the final matches where some of the top players in Europe were competing. After the final, Royal Scaldis put on a social for all the players, and if there’s one thing Mavs know how to do, its how to party! We made our presence known and by the end of the night we were exchanging flags with Royal Scaldis to show our new found friendship!
When I look backs at the games Mavs played it is the best I have ever seen us play and we had moments of magic. We might not have won any matches but the experience and what we have learnt is a massive boost to the team. After having a taste of what we can play like, Mavs now know what we need to work on to improve and continue to train to be the best we can. The only way we can go from here is up.
I want to thank John, Werner and Ian for driving us everywhere, Timo for coaching us along with Steve and John. A massive thank you has to go to Nicki for organising us all getting there and also to Jen and Steve for all the publicity they have been doing for Mavs.
Lastly I wanted to thank my team; they are genuinely a credit to themselves and Mavericks. Their attitudes on and off the court is fantastic. They gave everything in each match and that’s all I could ask for. When I think back this is why I stuck around at the start when things were tough. Mavericks aren’t just a korfball club, we are a family too. They helped me find my love of korfball again and for that I’m very thankful. #mavforlife
By Natasha Lynch