Entry 6 of an assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee
Today is the final day of the group phase for my son and his team mates of the Belgian National Powerchair Hockey Team at the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 that is happening 9-14 August in Sursee, Switzerland.
It is the day of the last game of the group phase which is against Canada. It’s a game that we must win if we want to play two more games in the play-offs instead of just one. If we win, we end 4th in our group, not 5th. The 5th plays only one more game, against the team ending 5th in the other group. The 4th has two more games to compete.
The day starts with a relaxed morning where most players get some physiotherapy. The team watches the game Switzerland-Netherlands (final score: 5-10) via the organization’s livestream.
But then, it is…match time: Canada-Belgium.
Actually, both teams need to win to not end last in the group, as both teams have lost all their previous (3) games. It leads to a game that starts furious and passionate. It is a nervous game, going up and down all the time. Neither team really dominates as is reflected in the mid-game score: 0-0. In the second half however, our team manages to score 3 times, of which 2 goals from a shoot-out penalty. In my view, Canada plays a bit too wildly, which makes them miss their chances.
Final score: 0-3.
Goal achieved! Belgium will play a first play-offs game against the 3rd team of the other group. The result of that game will determine who we will play against in the last game, and for what final rank.
Our son wasn’t allowed a chance to play in this game against Canada, which is–honestly–very, very frustrating. For my son, it is frustrating because he has no idea what is the problem. For me, it is frustrating because I am having to re-energize and motivate him again and again. It might be one of the only cases where combining being a father and his personal assistant isn’t too bad. Of the 4 games so far, which represents a total of 160 minutes of play in total (remember: a game has 2 halves of 20 minutes), he has been on the pitch for about 10 minutes. But both times, I feel he did really, really well. I assumed it would highlight his qualities and that his performance would speak for itself. So, not? We wonder.
I know that not playing is part of the game too. However, what is not part of the game and what (to me) is even not acceptable is that he isn’t given an explanation. At all. This is even actually the worst. Transparent communication might help him accept the situation and come to terms with it. But…the lack of transparency is causing exactly the opposite situation.
On a side note: having worked with people organized in teams for so many years now, I am so saddened by what I see happen in our team, and specifically the (lack of true) leadership towards the players individually and the team as a whole. The analogies with the business world are sadly enormous. What motives people? What binds a team? How to coach and facilitate team growth? How to help surface different opinions and handle them? How to overcome the absence of conflict? It requires essential skills and insights. It’s more universal than many realize. After all, whether it is software development or powerchair hockey: it’s about human beings. That doesn’t make it a simple challenge though. Even on the contrary, it is extremely complex. A funny finding is that I am using examples from my professional life to explain what I see happening in my son’s team to him, while I already know that I will use examples from what I’ve seen happening in my son’s team as analogies in my professional consulting and training activities.
In the end, our assumption (having overheard some conversations) is that he played only to make sure the classifiers have seen him play to get his final classification score, which would allow him to play in the play-offs (Aaaargh, do you smell the potential cynicism?). Remember from entry 3 of my assistant’s web-log of the IWAS Powerchair Hockey World Cup 2022 Sursee that before the tournament started, each player was assigned a classification score (ranging from 0.5 – 4.5). And that this score is finalized upon observations of the players in their actual games?
Let me build on this topic to add that a classification score of 5.0 means that a person is not eligible to play powerchair hockey. It means that the person is plainly too strong in both arms and upper body. It would make the game unfair. A last learning point: the classifiers are entitled to update a player’s classification until the end of the tournament. I learn all the time.
Do you also remember that I wrote how classifiers can be recognised by their green shirts? Well, outside of the pitch (where they wear black) referees can be recognised by their blue shirts. However, referees are also being observed by people wearing the same blue shirts (carrying a different title on the back though).
I am learning all the time. And I love it.
So, match day 3 concluded the group phase. The conclusion after match day 3? See the conclusion of match day 2, but…amplified by a factor. You can probably sense it in my writing: the growing unbelief and annoyance over inner-team approaches and (non-)communication of which my son’s position is an example.
Tomorrow we are playing the playoffs. Another day, another ray of hope of improvement.
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
- IWAS PCH WC 2022, Entry 6 (Friday 12 August): Match day 3 (what you are reading)
- 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