Zurich Netball Club is so proud to have had six of its members represent Switzerland recently for the European Open Netball Championships. Joh Sargeant shares her (somewhat long) story 🙂
What an experience it was to travel with the 2013 Swiss open netball team to Aberdeen for the European Open Netball Championships. We are all so proud to have played our little hearts out and to have brought home runners-up medals for Switzerland!
We spent the day of the 29th of May travelling to bonny Scotland, all proudly displaying our Swiss tracksuits on the journey, keeping tabs of how many people asked us ‘what is netball’ and in how many languages. We were all visibly bubbling over with excitement at finally having arrived, after five months of preparation.
Thursday morning was our first training session, gearing up for the ominous match against Scotland later that day. After eyeing off the competition in the hotel and then also on the bus on our way to the venue (tension!), we valiantly fought a game that showcased our abilities as a developing netballing nation. Running out onto court for our first match against Scotland was certainly a terrifying and exhilarating experience. Seeing the Scottish players tower over (most of) us was just a reassertion of what an enormous competition we are participating in and how lucky we were to have been chosen to represent Switzerland. Our defenders sure got a good workout throughout that match, with the final score being 73 – 11. The score didn’t seem to deter a few young netballing enthusiasts, though, who were still eager in asking for our autographs. Punishment was in the form of our first ice-bath of the tournament.
Friday saw a day of training and tactics in preparation for the following two days of matches. After our dramatic loss the day before, We had a very tough and very necessary training session, reevaluating our tactics and preparing for following two days of competition. We spent the afternoon either exploring the local castles or the Marks and Spencers of Aberdeen, returning to the court in the early evening. There, we continued our tactical game-plan, writing detailed notes on our personal opponents for our upcoming games as the Republic of Ireland played, and beat, Gibraltar.
Saturday saw a morning filled with visits to David, our osteopath, for massages, strapping, treatments and advice, plus another training session in preparation for our game against the ROI. Despite all our hard work, we lost to Ireland 16-48, though we basked in the small glimmer of light that the margin between our scores was at least better than when Ireland had played Gibraltar. We certainly didn’t expect that it was this fact that would end up winning us the runners up medal!
All of our efforts were working towards the nail-biting match against Gibraltar. We had been watching them, analysing them, staring them down as we each ate our porridge across the room from each other at breakfast. We knew that we simply had to beat them if we were to potentially move up in the international rankings. And we knew that, for this amazing 2013 team, it was a possibility. We were prepared and we were pumped! The first quarter started brilliantly, where we pulled ahead right from the first whistle with a three goal lead. Part-way through the second quarter, Switzerland was 8 goals down but (perhaps with a timely injury call…) we managed to pull it back, with the help from many a ringing cow-bell in the stands! In the last half of the game the score was even, neither of us managing to tiptoe ahead of the other. Our hearts were racing and every member of our bench was screaming for us. The tension between the two teams could be felt throughout the stadium, as more and more spectators came to watch the nerve-wracking conclusion to the match. The final few minutes ticked by, neither team gaining ground against the other. As is fitting to the hard work, determination and fight that both teams brought to the court that day, the game concluded with a score of 28-28. Whether we were on the bench or on the court, this engrossing game will be one that every single one of us will remember.
Receiving our runners-up medals at the closing ceremony was a real glory moment for each team member, as well as for our incredible support staff that worked tirelessly to get us to that point. To our coach, Victoria Knights, our assistant coaches Jen Fields and Peta Samios, our manager, Jo Garner, our osteopath, David Lewis and our delegate, Emma Connolly, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. And a special congratulations to our Queen of Defence, Claudia Almer, who received the Player of the Championship! We are all so proud of you! Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the trials for the 2014 Swiss team!