Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Gibraltar 2012

Following an exhausting journey of some 18 hours, the Israel Netball squad arrived in Gibraltar late afternoon on Wednesday the 6th of June to play eight pre-ranking matches in four days. After checking into the Caleta Hotel located on the sea front they were taken to get a feel of the venue where their matches would be played.

On Thursday morning when they got to the impressive sports hall a couple of hours before their match, the hall was virtually empty but just when the Gibraltan home team took to the court against the Israeli players, hordes of schoolchildren poured into the stadium filling it almost to capacity. The first game in any tournament can be quite nerve-wracking but it is doubly so when the crowd is against you. Although the first quarter ended with our team being only one goal down (6-7), our opponents moved ahead to gain a 6-goal lead at half-time (10-16) and increased that lead to 10 during the third quarter (12-22). To the delight of (most of) the spectators, Gibraltar won the match by 32-18.

Switzerland was an unknown quantity as they had never before participated in a competition at this level. Their team was made up entirely of ex-pats who, it turned out, were quite experienced. Once again, our players managed to hold them to a 1-goal difference at the end of the first quarter (9-10), and were down by only 2 goals at half-time (16-18). But the Swiss team pulled ahead to a 5-goal lead in the third quarter (22-27) and won the match by 40-27.

Friday was the most difficult day for our players: they were scheduled to play the first match of the day against Malta, have a short break during the next match and then come back on court to play the strongest team at the festival, Ireland.

At the very beginning of the first match they were up by 4-1 but were unable to keep up the momentum losing the first quarter by 7-12, the second by 12-26, the third by 15-39 and at the final whistle, the scoreboard showed 20-47 to the Maltese team.

Unfortunately they fared even worse against the Irish team losing to them by 49-11.

On Friday evening the entire squad plus spectators were treated to a wonderful dinner at a kosher restaurant in the Jewish quarter of Gibraltar. There was tasty food, a wonderful atmosphere, Nomi Komar celebrated her 18th birthday and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday morning, despite not having all their players on court, the Israeli team played a much stronger game when they faced Switzerland for the second time. The results were: Q1. 4-7, Q2. 11-15, Q3. 19-27, Q4. 24-34.

The afternoon game against Ireland was again a struggle but our players did manage to hold their opponents to a first-quarter score of 3-5. This however did not prevent the Irish team from forging ahead to a very convincing victory of 31-6.

The last day of the festival did not bring our team any successes: they lost to the home team by 39-18 and to Malta by 57-29.

Although our players were very disappointed not to have won any of their matches, the experience was wonderful and as a result of our efforts we were ranked 33rd on the world netball stage. The other good news is that we will not be expected to play two games a day at future netball events!

Every member of our squad and management team should be congratulated for the extraordinary efforts they put into making this trip happen. Players deserving a special mention: Nomi Komar, our youngest player, displayed her very impressive shooting skills and Captain Brenda Benaim, who – along with Tal Segev – played in 30 out of the 32 quarters, kept on defending every shot and encouraging the team without let-up.

Our thanks to our hosts in Gibraltar for hosting such a successful event which ran like clockwork. Alongside the festival, an umpiring workshop was held to promote interest in this essential part of netball. The Netball Europe AGM and Council Meeting at which representatives from member countries participated also took place over the weekend.

In addition, teams from Scandinavia, Ireland and Madrid also played a number of friendly matches.