Entry 4 of an assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee
An exciting day ahead for my son and his team mates of the Belgian National Powerchair Hockey Team who are participating in the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 that is happening 9-14 August in Sursee, Switzerland.
After a few days of checking in and being checked out (see Entry 2 and Entry 3 of my assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee), today we finally can go to ‘work’. We have two matches to play: against the Netherlands and against Italy. Neither game is going to be an easy task. The Netherlands is generally accepted as the best powerchair hockey country around and they are the ruling European Champion, while Italy is the ruling World Champion. Team Italy won the world title at the world cup in 2018 in front of their home crowd. If that hasn’t been goose bumps, I don’t know what would.
The game against the Netherlands quickly confirms the justness of their (informal) world leader status in my (admitted: unexperienced) eyes. What a team to play against! So fast, so assertive, super hard hitters on the ball, total ball control at the tip of their sticks, finding each other blindly even when moving around all the time, genius blocking actions. I am no expert but even I see how this team is perfecting the game. That finding is hard to be decoupled from my observation that they are by far the most professional team I’ve seen at the event. Fyi. They do their own live, real-time video analysis during the game. This certainly looks like a candidate world champion to me. A Dutch contact however claims that Denmark is of the same level as the Netherlands. I just might be jumping to conclusions too quickly. Which is not really a surprise…
Our team, being a young and newly composed team, works hard, searches and…learns about playing at this level. The hard way. I do wonder if they couldn’t have been better prepared for the sort of play that is played here? Our coach has been at every single world championship after all. Just a thought. I am learning all the time.
In my view, young Maxime Decrock deserves a special word of appreciation and admiration. He was brought into the team during the first half and he did what needed to be done and what he does so greatly: dance around the pitch and sting like a bee!
Our son is only brought into the game 5 minutes before the end at a score of 0-20. Fyi. A game has 2 halves of 20 minutes of playing each, with a break of 10 minutes in between. Still, as a father, I was proud to see him playing his first minutes at an official world championship, even if it was only so short and in a completely lost game. As an observer, I truly believe his presence made a difference. Judging by the fact that he was explicitly targeted for being blocked a few times leaves me with the impression that he did a good job. I am though well aware that this also raises the issue that he should try to avoid ending up in a position of being vulnerable to being blocked. I find myself in a state of being convinced that his good play will not go unnoticed for the coach.
I am continuously looking around, processing observations and absorbing insights. Despite the absence of a limitation on the number of substitutions, it doesn’t look like Team Belgium uses it as a strategic tool as much as other teams do. I am learning all the time.
And furthermore, who could have imagined this in November 2007? (when he was diagnosed with DMD, at the age of 6) Or in the fall of 2015? (when he was expelled from the Belgian boyscouts movement because of being in a manual wheelchair and when he started playing powerchair hockey–two loosely related events)
The mid-game score of the game against the Netherlands is 0-12. Final score: 0-23.
The afternoon game against Italy is—again—a difficult one, as expected. Italy demonstrates why they are the ruling world champion. Although rumours say that they are a rather defensive team, they put a lot of forward pressure on our team, allowing us little to no room to escape the area of our own goal. Fyi. A powerchair hockey goal is about 2 meters wide, but no more than 15 cm high. Similar to other versions of hockey, players can go around the goal. I am obviously just beginning to know the game, but, despite the similar score (mid-game: 0-11; final: 0-19), the way the Netherlands played the game impressed me a lot more.
Our son wasn’t given the chance to play against Italy. We have no idea why (not).
Given his ambitions and the fire of the sportsman that I know is burning in him, I have some good evening conversations with my son about the result, the team’s performance and his frustration of not being able to contribute. Sometimes a dad can’t do a lot more than being available, listen and try to motivate him to work hard and do the best he can. And my son, being the driven athlete that he is, is not supposed to be happy with the result anyhow, right?
Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the arena has been impressive and outstanding. It is vibrant and full of noisy cheering, but all in a spirit of fairness and sportspersonship.
Match day 1 left us with a feeling of accomplishment albeit with some mixed feelings too. More time to play! Tomorrow…
I hope you will enjoy reading all about our adventure for which I envision following episodes:
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 0: Introduction
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 1 (Sunday 7 August): Gotta go
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 2 (Monday 8 August): Checking in and being checked out (part 1)
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 3 (Tuesday 9 August): Checking in and being checked out (part 2)
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 4 (Wednesday 10 August): Match day 1 (what you are reading)
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 5 (Thursday 11 August): Match day 2
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 6 (Friday 12 August): Match day 3
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 7 (Saturday 13 August): Play-offs
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 8 (Sunday 14 August): Finals
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 9 (Monday 15 August): After-day