World second ranked Chinese Taipei seeks to go one step higher
Over the past decade Chinese Taipei has become firmly established in international korfball’s top three, with podium finishes at each IKF World Korfball Championship and each World Games since 2009. They now hold the second place in the IKF rankings.
Through most of that era Chun Hsien Wu, known throughout the korfball world as Ricky, has been a key team member. He has also been one of the highest profile ‘imports’ to the Korfball League in The Netherlands, where he earned the nickname ‘The Asian Sensation.’ Ricky Wu will captain Chinese Taipei at the IKF WKC 2019 in South Africa. He knows his team has a huge battle to equal the silver medal they won at the World Games 2017. However he says they have an even greater ambition in their sights.
“We want to make the final. Our main target is to become the world champion,” he says.
Chinese Taipei has been in training since the Korfball Challenge in Rotterdam at the end of last year. Ricky is pleased with the way they have prepared.
“For six months we have worked solidly. We train together four times a week. We are able to take it step by step, not to go in a hurry. We have been careful to do everything in the right way. It has gone well, and it seems we are now almost in the best moment with this team,” he says.
In common with several other teams at the IKF WKC 2019, Chinese Taipei predominantly comprises a mix of university students and physical education teachers. Originally drawn from the Chinese Taipei Korfball Association (CTKA) schools programme, established across the country, all the national squad players now live in three cities, or attend two universities, all in or near Taipei, making it relatively easy for them to train together regularly.
“For those of us who work, when you then have to go to train, it can be a challenge to keep your energy levels up, though it is not a big problem, particularly now we are into the summer vacation.
“If you are a teacher and are selected to play for the national team, the government will give you special leave, so it is not such a big sacrifice to play, and it helps us to keep focused on training,” says Ricky.
Through their preparation this year, Chinese Taipei have also competed in two recent international tournaments: the ZZU Cup, in Zhengzhou, China in early June, where they lost in the final to The Netherlands, and a subsequent event, also in China, which included the two Asian countries’ senior and U21 teams as well as The Netherlands U21. Chinese Taipei achieved a welcome victory over the Dutch team, as well as playing some tough battles against their local rival, China.
Ricky and his team mates are pleased to have the growing competition from their neighbour.
“In the past, world korfball has been unbalanced between Asia and Europe. In the top eight, Chinese Taipei was usually the only Asian team to really challenge Europe. Now China is ready to join that group. We know that the gap is becoming smaller. China plays with a lot of energy. They have a realistic opportunity to make the semi-finals,” he says.
Suriname could also post a big challenge for Chinese Taipei. They met at the Korfball Challenge in December, when the Asian champion only just defeated the Pan American champion. Ricky knows, and respects, many of Suriname’s players from his time in the Korfball League.
“They play in the Dutch style. Playing Suriname is like playing a second Dutch team,” he says.
And even though they are ambitious for a first ever place in the IKF WKC final, then to progress to the highest level of the podium, Ricky and his team mates know they are likely to have to overcome Belgium if they are to achieve those high aspirations.
“Although we beat them at the World Games, and then they had their worst ever finish at last year’s EKC, we know Belgium is climbing again. When we last played them, in the Korfball Challenge, they had changed the way they play, with more hustle and more fight, and they are much stronger this year. We always have to be careful when we play against them,” he says.
If the two rivals do meet in Durban, it is likely to be one of the most important, and most eagerly awaited, matches of the tournament.
#TeamTPE IKF WKC 2019
1: Ya-Wen Lin
2: Shu-Chi Chang
3: Chou-Ying Li
4: Shu-Ping Chu
5: Cin Chen
6: Shen-Chih Chen
7: Szu-Yu Lin
8: Ya-Hui Cho
11: Chun-Hsien Wu
13: Han-Sheng Chiu
14: Li-Chiang Cheng
15: Chun-Ta Chen
16: Wei-Jhe Tai
17: Chen-Yu Kao
18: Tzu-Shun Huang
19: Tzu-Yao Huang
Coach: Fang-Yi Hsieh
Manager: Chih-Hung Huang
Officials: Chun-Cheng Feng, Bo-Yu Sung, Wei-Chiang Huang
#TeamTPE on social media:
Follow the tournament!
Dani Ezpeleta2019-07-22 10:18:182019-07-28 07:48:01#TheTeamFiles: Chinese Taipei (IKF WKC 2019)