As the domestic tchoukball season approaches UK Women’s captain Louisa Hall has been recalling a successful summer where her side came second in the European Tchoukball Championships (ETC) in the Czech Republic, while the UK men finished fourth and UK under 18s came fifth.
Having previously finished third in both the 2015 World Championships and 2014 European Championships, the women’s aim was for a final spot. Things couldn’t have started better as the side comfortably beat France. They then drew with Italy, the side having narrowly beaten them in the semi-finals in 2014.
Wins against Poland and the Czech Republic followed before the side’s greatest triumph, as they defeated holders Switzerland 49-39.
A surprise draw against Austria followed before a win against Spain ensured the UK ended the round-robin stage top of the group.
The semi-finals saw a second win over the Czech Republic but unfortunately the women could not repeat their success against the Swiss, losing 35-43 in the final.
Despite initial disappointment Hall said she was proud of the players and their achievements, particularly with the win against the Swiss in the group stage.
It was the side’s first appearance in a final in 10 years.
“Returning home with second place at the European championships is a proud achievement for everyone throughout the squad,” she said. “We played good solid tchoukball from the word go and got better as the tournament went on. The strength and variety of players on the women’s squad is far better now than it ever has been before from a UK side. Every player played to their full potential which attributed to being the only team not to lose a game in the group stages. Making it all the way to the finals was a massive moment for our team, having normally been playing for the third and fourth positions. I was proud to play alongside each and every player and am looking forward to working our way up the ladder to get first place in the next coming years.”
The UK Men’s team also improved their position in the tournament, reaching the semi-finals of a major championship for the first time since 2010.
The men finished fourth after being knocked in the semi-finals by winners Austria, having come sixth at the previous European Championships.
They too had an impressive start, first defeating the Czech Republic – who beat them into fifth place in 2014 – before wins against France and Poland.
Losses to Italy, Germany and Austria meant it was vital the side won against Switzerland to secure a semi-final slot.
Led by shooter Stu Blakemore, the side pulled off a shock to win 57-49, with their easy victory against Spain cementing the semi-final space, coming fourth in the group.
Again they faced up against Austria, who won comfortably on their way to a second successive title, before losing to Germany in the third-place playoff.
The UK under 18s, with a mixture of boys and girls, including six players eligible for the under 15 category, lost all of their round-robin fixtures, but were delighted to get a win against the Czech Republic M15 in their final match.