Entry 5 of an assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee
Another exciting day ahead for my son and his team mates of the Belgian National Powerchair Hockey Team. Another day to do what they came for as participants of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 that is happening 9-14 August in Sursee, Switzerland: play powerchair hockey.
In the afternoon we will face home team Switzerland. The prospect of an afternoon match makes waking up and some morning rituals a bit more relaxed.
A group of Belgian players and assistants (including my son and I) depart for the world cup arena before lunch already (using the organization’s shuttle service). We want to watch the game Italy-Netherlands live and on-site (rather than watching the livestream in a meeting room of the hotel). From the report about yesterday (Entry 4 of my assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee: “Match day 1”) you will undoubtedly remember how we already played against both teams and how difficult that was. Understatement.
Now, the game between the ruling World Champion (Italy) and the ruling European Champion (the Netherlands) couldn’t have been better.
WHAT . A . GAME
I can’t imagine a better way to promote the sport of powerchair hockey! This game has energy, passion, emotions, incredibly skilled players, strategic moves, intelligent (thus highly irritating) blocking actions, a red card, a yellow card, team interplay, smart substitutions. In the 2×40 minutes there was not one single dull moment. These teams play a different ball game (in a different universe). Final score: 1-8 (in favor of the Netherlands).
New for me is the fact that there are speed controls during the game. Remember from Entry 2 of my assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee (“Checking in and being checked out (part 1)”) that the powerchairs of all players are checked twice before the tournament starts. The goal is to verify that their maximum speed does not exceed 15 km/h. During the game such checks happen too. I am learning all the time. The clock is stopped and a player is asked to drive his machine on the test bank.
By the way, the red card I referred to in the Italy-Netherlands game was the result of such a check. An Italian player did a manipulation of his wheelchair after the check before re-entering the pitch, probably turning off the cooling. This is forbidden. It means that the player turned on the cooling before the check. But the machine checked should be the machine as used in play. A red card means leaving the game and being suspended for the next game. A yellow card means that a player needs to leave the field for 5 minutes.
Other novelties for me, things I’ve never seen happen before, are a few broken floorsticks and–more scary–a few powerchairs turned on their side. If you wonder how it is possible, I do too. Even now that I have seen it actually happen…
Other things I’ve learned is that there is a reason why we have so few female players in Team Belgium (because players are a lot recruited from among people with neuromuscular problems, which are often men) and why there are no players from the Walloon part of Belgium (they focus on Powerchair Soccer which is sponsored by Fifa). Another important limitation to the skill level of the national team is that in Belgium people get granted a powerchair quite late and a sports chair has to be purchased privately (where for instance in certain parts of the Netherlands there is a government intervention possible).
After lunch we enter the arena where we will face the organizing country Switzerland. Before the game the players drive and play around in order to warm up their bodies but also the engines of their powerchair. Another pre-game activity is a short material check. That is rather minimalist: the sticks are verified and it is checked whether the floorball can freely pass under a chair (which is a requirement).
As the mid-game score shows (7-0) it is indeed not an easy game. Switzerland has been doing very well so far, probably with some additional motivation of playing before their cheering home crowd. Our son enters the pitch to play the last 5-6 minutes, at a score of 10-0.
I am obviously biased and not an expert. Still, I dare say that he did make a difference, even for the short time that he played, even more than he did in the game against the intergalactic team of the Netherlands yesterday. As you can imagine, it is again not what a driven and ambitious player, eager to learn and improve, hopes for. We’ve also still no idea about what goes through the mind of the coach. The uncertainty and non-communication is probably even worse than not playing or playing just a short period.
After the game (final score: 12-0) our team receives compliments from the Swiss coach for our way of playing given the young and unexperienced team that we still are.
Match day 2 left us again with a feeling of accomplishment albeit with even more 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
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 5 (Thursday 11 August): Match day 2 (what you are reading)
- 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