Sunday, 23rd February saw the Korfkats journey to Keele to play some games against both Castle & MUKS, and I for one was excited. This was my first taste of competitive korfball outside the University, and I couldn't wait. I have said (for sometime) that if I can make a tournament or match, then I would definitely come along. Having missed some tournaments earlier in the year, I was glad that I could make this fixture, even though it wasn't a full blown tournament.
We arrived at the Sports Centre at about quarter-to-two, got changed and watched the final few minutes of the league match between Castle & MUKS, which was in progress. I'm not sure who won. When the game was over we warmed up while Castle took a break, and then we played them. This was for me the first time I had played in a proper game. I was aware of most of the rules but there were still a few that I was unsure of, and I learnt a lot. The referee was Matt from Manchester, who I thought was fair - he let me off a silly mistake regarding a throw in we had, which was kind of him. I was defending a guy when the game started, which was quite interesting, because I had never done this properly.
"Stick to him - don't let him out of your sight", they said. I gave all and think it paid off. I don't think I played too badly considering I'd never played before September, the experience gave me an insight in to what it is like to defend.
I believe we won the game, so it was now the turn of Machester to play us. I wasn't playing in this game because Tom was keen to get as many players that would be playing in the Nationals in this one. Manchester were in our group, so it was an ideal time to see how we performed against them. The game was twenty-five minutes long, and it was interesting to actually see a whole game from start to finish. There were some good moves and some bad ones, but I thought our overall performance was good. Manchester frightened me a little - two of their players were both fast and skillful, but the team played well - something reflected in the score. I can't remember what it was, but we won. I think.
While this game was in progress, I watched on the sidelines as did some of the Castle team. When the game was over, it was back to the initial configuration. I was a little tired from the first game, but now I had an idea of how things worked, so I was ready to test out some new ideas. I was defending the same person as in the first game, I don't know if this was how it worked out or whether it was planned this way. This was both good and bad: good in the sense that I knew his tactics and style a little, but bad in the sense that I wouldn't be playing against someone different: something that I would have liked (for variety). He had an interesting tactic: when the ball was in the other half, he would walk over to his mate who was at the back of our half, and start talking to him. I don't know if this was out of boredom or a conscious tactical decision! It could well have been the latter, because his idea of losing me did work a number of times, until I had worked out what was going on. He had a shot at goal but was too far away to get it in, although it was a good effort. Once again, I'm not sure what the score was, but I think we won.
Finally, a second game against Manchester, but I didn't play. I took a break and replenished some carbohydrates - until you play a game in full you cannot appreciate just how draining it is! This game was also twenty-five minutes long. There were some really great moves by some of our players, I remember one by Gareth and one by Rachel, plus some more. In the final five minutes, Joe had an injury of some description, so I took his place until the end of the game. I was defending Zu, who I had seen was considerably faster than me, but I did my best anyway. He managed to get away and score at least once due to me not being able to defend him, but at least the game didn't count for anything important. When the final whistle went, I was quite drained. It had been fun but was hard work.
All in all, a good first experience to competitive korfball. Now I'm looking forward to next years tournaments!