It's all over but for the singing and celebrating! And In Buenos Aires as the parties continue late into the balmy Argentinian evenings, we can reflect upon a spectacular Inline Hockey World Championships filled with the very best that this sport has to offer.
In today's Junior Women’s finals, we were delighted to see the Colombians win the Bronze medal v Argentina 2-0. Both these up and coming South American organisations have demonstrated much improvement throughout their international programs, and will be delighted to see themselves claiming the Bronze, and the 4th place spot in World Junior Women’s Inline Hockey. But we have the loudest applause for the new Queens of Inline Hockey, with the team that dominated their entire tournament and achieved their ultimate goal. Namibia will take the Gold back to Africa and inspire an entire continent into taking up this true world sport. The USA were defeated 9-1 and take the Silver medal, arguably the hardest medal to win in any team sport. But they must be proud to take home a third medal for the American Federation, with bragging rights on the return flight alongside their colleagues in senior Mens and Senior Women’s. The American powerhouse of inline looks to continue into the future, but for now all eyes turn to Africa as the rising star, and a familiar flag to see at the worlds. The final table for the Junior women starts with Italy in 6th, Brazil in 5th, Argentina in 4th, Columbia with the Bronze medal, USA Silver and Namibia Gold. Dominating the points in this division are names that are sure to become familiar in World Inline. Christine Rottcher, with 27 goals and 11 assists standing out as one of the best players in the world right now. She is surrounded by her teammates Leighzene Coetzee, Maine Dedig, Ania Borslap and Lomarie Fourie. What a tour de force!
In the Senior Men’s Competition, Slovakia secured their 7th place standing by beating Argentina 4-2, this was followed by confirming Ireland and Uruguay in 16th and 17th position, with a win for the Irish 8-0. Columbia secured a win over Switzerland 4-2 to complete the 11th and 12 places. In a reprieve for the Canadians, they narrowly lifted the International Cup over Brazil 2-1 and settled positions 9th and 10th. Dramatic scenes as Spain required a shootout to capture 5th place from another upstart Inline Hockey nation making waves at all levels of competition, Chinese Taipei. The score read 2-1 in favour of the Spanish, but the story is one of an emerging power in the Far East. Taipei are now certainly a part of the top international scene, and we will be seeing more of them for years to come, as their junior Gold medal winning team grows into the senior circuit.
In a stunning Bronze medal game, the first half could not split the difference between these two masters of the international game. Both teams boasting ample talent, speed and intelligence at this level, it was set for a classic battle. Kerkhove of France opened the scoring, only to be answered by Mooney from the USA in short order. This repeated in the first half when French number 2 Enzo Renou scored, followed just before the half-time buzzer by USA number 4 Nathan Sigmund. All square at the half, It all started falling for the USA as power play goal from Della Morte went in right at the start, Followed by another in regular play. Gabillet brought one back to keep the prospects alive for les Bleus, but at the death of the match, and with a player down, France conceded their final goal of the tournament to William Pascalli, and the American Men will be able to swap their Bronze winning stories with their Women’s counterparts on the way back home, and look on enviously, but more proudly to their Junior team with their silver ones.
The final chapter in this long and illustrious tournament came to pass, with the usual masterclass of talent, speed, stamina and strength. The Italian side came into the match hot off their semi final triumph v USA, and must have thought the Czechs were also a clear target for their dynamic and creative style. But a story that never gets old for the telling, you must never underestimate the Czechs. When they utilise their full potential, especially from the likes of Player of the Tournament, Daniel Brabec, an imperious Keeper who seems unbeatable at times. Not to mention the other Most Valuable Player, Marek Loskot, who is a dream player for team coach Martin Mecera. He is a coach and player who is used to raising gold cups above his head, and today was no exception. The Czechs were professional, efficient and solid in their approach, winning the first half 4-1, 2 from Loskot, and a couple more from Skoloud and the rapid Martin Fiala. Fabrizio Pace injected some pace of his own, and pulled one back for the Italians, who looked a bit overwhelmed at the start of this massive game. In the second, this Azzurri tempo started to show, and goals were returned from Bellini and Ferrari in a furious bit of clever play. But it was too little, too late. Loskot potted two more, along with another from Fiala and Andrysek, leaving the Italians exhausted to have thrown everything at this mighty powerhouse of Inline Hockey. The Gold Medal went to the Czechs with a score line of 7-3, which does not tell the full story of how well the Italians played to earn their Silver medal. The Czechs return home with another world Championship, and a redeeming of their reputation after missing out in Birmingham, USA to the Americans at World Games. They remain the very best Inline team in the world for now, and will defend their title next year against an ever evolving and strengthening field.
The final world championship results are, from 17th place to Gold:
Uruguay, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Slovakia, Chinese Taipei, Spain, France, USA, Italy, Czechia.
A mighty embrace with gratitude good out to the World Skate Inline Hockey Technical Committee, The World Skate team and all their staff and volunteers for organising such a show such as we have never seen. Special mention to the referees, who contribute their deep love of the game in an often thankless task. They played brilliantly to keep the talent in check and on point. To the players, staff and managers of the National federations, we thank you for putting on this wonderful show, and working hard year after year to hone and develop this talent, so we can see them play for us. And finally, to the hosts of Buenos Aires, the Parque Olympico, and all of Argentina, who have been warm and gracious hosts, bravo! See you all next year, when the champions from Czechia, Namibia, Chinese Taipei and Spain will defend their titles in 2023. Adiós Buenos Aires, muchas gracias
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Words Pete Wirt
Photo Credit: Marco Guariglia
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