Outstanding EKC sets new expectations for Germany
Beating one of korfball’s international superpowers is almost unheard of. In Europe, the only time anyone outside the top two had beaten The Netherlands or Belgium was in a semi-final at the IKF European Korfball Championship 2002 in Catalonia, when the Czech Republic overcame Belgium. Sixteen years later Germany became the first European team to repeat that feat, winning 20-18 in their pool game against The Diamonds at the IKF EKC 2018.
Anna Orth was part of Germany’s history-making team that day, and will be back, along with most of her team-mates, for the IKF World Korfball Championship 2019 in Durban. She says it is still difficult to believe what they achieved.
“Before that game, no one seriously thought we would win. We didn’t even really believe it ourselves, which probably helped because we didn’t have that huge pressure from the first minute. We just played our game and tried not to be distracted by our opponents, the spectators or anything else,” she says.
Belgium held the lead until the 29th minute, though were never ahead by more than three.
“In the game, we sensed there was actually a good chance to win, but we knew we had to fight hard until the last moment. We just kept playing our game and trusting that everyone was doing their very best,” says Anna.
Germany only established the decisive two-goal lead with less than five seconds left, by which point their ever-enthusiastic supporters were chanting and cheering.
“When the game was over we realised we had actually won against Belgium. It was an amazing feeling. We couldn’t really believe it and at the same time we were so proud. Proud of what we had achieved, and of the effort everybody had put in. It definitely took a while to process all the emotions, and it was incredible to receive so much positive feedback afterwards.
“No one who was there will forget those feelings,” she says.
Going on to win the silver medal gave Germany new belief, though also adds a new kind of pressure.
“We are starting from a special position this year. Expectations are high, not only from the outside, but also from ourselves. That also pushes our motivation to play a great tournament again. We are determined to show that what we have reached last year was not by chance, but because we worked hard for it. It puts us in a different position than we are used to. Now we have to live up to high expectations,” she says.
Anna says the German team is held together by ambition, team spirit and fun.
“Most of us started playing korfball at primary school age, and we are now either university students or working full time. We mainly come from two different regions in Germany, around Dortmund and Cologne, which are about an hour apart by car. We all play for Germany’s top four clubs: SG Pegasus, TuS Schildgen, Schweriner KC and Adler Rauxel. In other German regions, korfball is not well known. We all have those conversations with people from other German cities explaining what korfball is and what makes it so special.
“We all spend a lot of time and effort on korfball, not only as players but also as coaches for example. Korfball is the main focus for all of us, next to our jobs and studies,” she says.
Germany’s captain at recent tournaments Sven Müller has retired, with Dominic Düring taking over the armband. Jan Robert Heming and Thomas Freund are stepping up from the U21 team and Pascal Demuth will also make his first national team appearance, as will Lea Witthaus. Anna says these new players add additional options to the team, set alongside the structure and experience of more established German stars like Anna Schulte, Jana Kierdorf and Timon Orth.
They are looking forward to defending their fifth place in the IKF rankings, particularly against Portugal, who they meet in a pool game on the third day, says Anna.
“Playing Portugal is always a great challenge, especially after the last tournament where we played each other twice and Germany won both. Portugal won’t make it easy, though since we won the IKF EKC silver medal, neither will anyone else, and we are very aware of that.
“We definitely want to end up in first in our pool, then see, from game to game, what will be the next step.”
#TeamGER IKF WKC 2019
3: Johanna Gnutt
4: Jana Kierdorf
5: Anna Schulte
6: Anna Orth
8: Lea Sander
12: Dominic Duering
13: Pascal Demuth
15: Timon Orth
16: Steffen Heppekausen
17: Johanna Peuters
18: Johanna Treffts
20: David Liepold
22: Jan Robert Heming
23: Thomas Freund
25: Lea Witthaus
Coach: Wilco Van Den Bos
Manager: Jochen Schittkowski
Physios: Tobias Kehlenbach, Dominik Werthmann
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Dani Ezpeleta2019-07-22 10:39:512019-07-28 07:45:41#TheTeamFiles: Germany (IKF WKC 2019)