Long wait ends for Slovakia
Slovakia most recently participated at the IKF World Korfball Championship in 2003 when they finished thirteenth, and prior to that in 1995 when they finished tenth.
After the IKF European Korfball Championship 2018 it seemed Slovakia’s dream of a third appearance in the WKC had ended in tears, when Ireland seized victory in the last few minutes of the ranking match between the two that decided the final qualification place for this year’s tournament in Durban. However, as Martin Sonoga, president of Slovenská Asociácia Korfbalu explains, they stayed positive.
“Of course, it was disappointing to finish one place out of qualification in October. However, there were always rumours about teams not being able to find the financial resources to travel to South Africa, or being withheld from participating for political reasons. So we never gave up hope.
“Then, shortly before Christmas, the invitation came. We had five weeks to make the final decision and sort out our options. Pressure came on the management to find the substantial budget required. Although we succeeded with the money, the situation briefly became more complicated when the Dominican Republic came back into play. However, they were incapable of seizing their chance, which was unfortunate for them, though fantastic for Slovakia,” he says.
Sixteen years is a long break between tournaments at this level. Martin says most of the players who represented Slovakia in 2003 have now retired from active korfball.
“For the previous generation, the final international tournament was the IKF EKC 2014 in Portugal, which ended in disappointment for us, with fourteenth place. Since then we have rebuilt our national team from scratch.
“We have made progress at youth levels. Slovakia is now participating regularly at U15 and U17 international events, and we have built up a regular competition in our own country in five youth categories. That is showing some encouraging progress, and the future is positive,” he says.
Slovak korfball is built around two major clubs: SKK Dolphins Prievidza and KK SPU Nitra. Former Russia international Sergey Nizovskiy, who played for his country during the years when Russian korfball was at its most powerful, coached Russia in 2016, and also had a spell in Belgian club korfball, has been Slovakia national team coach since June 2018.
“We are on the right path with Sergey at the helm, and the players are responding well to his coaching.
“Most of our national squad have been playing korfball for several years, some as their primary sport, a few coming through korfball or basketball academies.
“Team Slovakia has been preparing for the IKF WKC for around three months, though the core of the team has been together since the IKF EKC in the Netherlands last year. We hope that everybody will have a hell of a time and the tournament will be a major success. Our aim is to be competitive in all our matches and show a good level of korfball, even against the teams that are seeded much higher. Beyond that, hopefully we can win some of the matches that matter most in the later stages of the tournament,” says Martin.
If they can do that, Slovakia should defend or improve their current IKF ranking, which places them at number 17.
#TeamSVK IKF WKC 2019
3: Janka Miklovicova
4: Lujza Mojzisova
5: Zuzana Busikova
6: Eva Busikova
7: Andrea Fialova
9: Martin Pruzinec
10: Martin Hlavac
11: Bohuslav Majorsky
12: Peter Busik
13: Robert Mojzis
14: Peter Fabik
16: Simon Horvath
Coach: Sergey Nizovskiy
Manager: Tomas Sonnenschein
Official: Tibor Holota