Saturday, 20 September 2014

Birmingham, Bike Polo Shuffle Tourney

25 girls from 7 cities all over the UK gathered in Highgate Park, Birmingham for a one day  turney.
The tournament started as a shuffle tournament, and then placed players in fixed teams with the purpose to keep teams at equal levels, for  knock-out rounds (the losing team stayed out, the winning team continued). Games were ten or twelve minutes long and score draws were dealt with a golden goal to determine the winners. 

I was lucky enough to be placed in a team with Jo (one of Cambridge's finest player) who was the tournament's top scorer. She had the aura of a top player: excellent ball control, smooth bike manoeuvring, strong shots at all angles; all these blended with a calm, no-need-to-show-off personality and a sweet encouraging positivity that a typically older sister has.

My other team mate, was London's Aleksandra who i have got to know the past year; she brought to the table youthful enthousiasm and spirit and some tough battles against our opponents. Our team, Destiny's Wild reached 3rd position after losing (the golden goal) and staying out from the finals. I will be honest with you; i was gutted especially because our best player had to change bikes halfway, so i was left with the thoughts of "if she had her own bike maybe the golden goal would have been hers". But in sports there are no "ifs", especially as this whole tournament had an element of fate and luck. Despite the result, it was my favourite team. (sending big-ups to Jo and Alex!)

The winning team "Rubbish with Names" (but obviously pretty good with bike polo) , indeed, deserved the win; the team which was Leah (Bristol), Sylwia (Manchester) and Ana (London) worked hard for it with good passes and a focus in a game that was played at the opponents goals the most.

i chatted with Leah (Bristol) briefly during the tournament, who admitted comptetitiveness and having only one thought: winning. Manchester's Sylwia, had a much more relaxed style, encouraging all players, radiating posisitvity and at the same time focusing in her own game. Sylwia's skills and positive nature in the polo world seemed to be also recognised from others and went on to win Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tourney.

I joked with Sylwia, as she was a playful, fun character during our trip to Birmingham via our facebook pages, and asked her "How do you feel being once again the Most Valuable Party-monster and champion of the polo queens?" her reply brought to the surface her sportspersonship:

"on a serious note.. I feel proud to have had such a great team! Ana Sanches phenomenal in the goal and on the court! Making great decisions in a split second! You got that something gir! Leah was a pure badass on the court! Tackling like a pro, not letting go for a moment! Love your spirit girl! Keep it up! Oh and that chin shot!! It was pure pleasure to play with you gals and I hope there will be more tournaments to come where I get to do so again!" 

On our train journey back to London, I pretended to be interviewing Ana with an imaginary microphone and asked how she felt being a champion; Ana was slightly less chatty about the win and simply said that she felt "tired". Knowing her quite well it was obviously true that she was tired but also her answer seemed to be a way of avoiding attention, being modest and lets face it, she probably knew that i was going to quote her on this blog; she kept her reply minimal. During the games she had a focus and determination that i had never seen before in her.  More inline with her usual self, she was the first to open and share the bottle of prosecco for the celebrations.

There were 25 players worth a mention: 

1- Mya (bhm): strong, fast and fearless AND fierce too! A hard worker when it comes to the polo community
2- Kat (bhm): excellent hostess and the driving force of the tourney! Thanks!
3- Viki (bhm): had the most yellow stripes on her mallet, meaning pure wins during the shuffle tourney
4- Alice (bhm):another new player from Birmingham; promising and ready to take you on!
5- Irial (bhm): fresh moves, quiet and focused
6- Fuchsia (Lndn): must say she had the best goal celebrations ever
7- Nik (Lndn): one of the best players, in my opinion, and most fun person in the polo world
8- Sylwia (mcr): MVP MVP MVP!
9- Zsófia (bristol): strong player and tiredless organiser, natural coach
10- Ana (Lndn): blood in her eyes, prosecco on her lips
11- Io (Lndn): that's me; aspiring sandbagger.
12- Peixe (Lndn): all the way from Sao Paulo! que legal! Beleza!
13- Ali (Cambo): Ali is awesome! best facial expressions on achievements! experienced and talented player.
14- Jo (Cambo): Jo, such a great team mate!one of the best players!
15 - Rita (Sheffield): she can take you down; she can speed up and get you.
16 - Jackie (Lndn): fearless. She will take you down.
17- Aleks (Lndn): ball control, positioning - she is the one!
18 - Lizzy (Glasgee):  strong and committed!
19-  Josie (Brtn): Agile and smooth; strong shots, be warned!
20 - Maddie (Lndn): experienced player, experienced heckler
21 - Tabs (brs): another awesome player from Bristol; share the secrets!
22 - Leah (brs): she had one thing is her head; to win; and she did.
23- Violeta (Lndn): pure skill, dynamite shots.
24. Lilly (Mcr): who received just praise from Nik for stepping it up
25. Rosie: the new promising leftie

Big-ups to Phil from London, coming all the way with chilled beer to support the tourney, and ofcourse to the Birmingham boys for reffing and helping with organising.

Micro-pigs (ask Sylwia why!) Pic adapted by Luiza Peixe