On the 29th November 2014, as the days gets shorter and jumpers get thicker, teams from across the South West and Wales will converge on The Merchants Academy in Bristol to fight for the right to compete at the BUCS Regional Tournament in January.
The South West Preliminary event will this year will see teams from Cardiff University, The University of Bristol, The University of Exeter and The University of Gloucestershire compete in a 1 day tournament with the top 4 teams joining Southampton, Oxford and Brighton in the Regional event. The 3 remaining teams will instead progress directly to the National Plate in March.
As we enter a new era of BUCS Korfball competition, expect plenty of new faces to be showing off their skills on court. Bristol will be entering a 3rd team into BUCS for the very first time allowing even more players to experience the excitement of representing their University whilst taking on their local rivals. Bristol finished last season on a high, finishing 6th at BUCS Nationals and 4th at Club Championships, and they have continued that form into the new season winning 5 of their 6 matches to date. Despite the loss of player/coach Jordie Wildin to a year in America, 1st team Captain Essy King has stepped up and is leading the goal scoring charts for the South West league, averaging almost 6 goals a game, but she is being pushed all the way by Lizzie Tighe, who’s in her first year at Bristol and has already found her shooting boots.
Cardiff University is another team who had a brilliant season last year. They went the entire season unbeaten as they dominated the Welsh korfball league from start to finish, whilst at the same time they finished 4th in a very competitive regional league. Despite losing Welsh international James Wilcox to the dreaded graduation, Cardiff still have the high scoring Roddy Slater and England youth international Rebecca Fitch to call upon. So under the guidance of new coach Pat Merton they’ll make a formidable opponent. New recruit Sam Oldershaw’s exciting performances playing for Cardiff 2’s will be a boost to a team hoping to grab a place in the top 4 come the end of the month.
Despite the expectation of Bristol 1 vs. Cardiff 1 being the fixture to watch out for, The University of Exeter will be looking to cause an upset. This young team is only in its 3rd year of competition but has shown an amazing rate of improvement. They qualified for Nationals for the first time last year and will be looking to build on that, so finishing in the top 4 this month is a must! They look odds on to achieve that having already provided a very stern test for Bristol in the league. New arrival from Cambridge Paul Kim is currently leading the scoring, but the goals are coming from all angles in a very balanced looking 1st team.
Gloucester is also new to the korfball scene, as the club was only formed last year. Having lost club founder and Captain Karina Lang, the task has fallen to Tom Bunning to lead his team in their BUCS adventure this year. Despite only discovering korfball 12 months ago, Tom is already competing at a regional level so will be the perfect example for all the new students coming into the sport. Training and competing with the local senior team will provide the new players with an array of talent and experience to learn from, with this tournament providing them with a great opportunity to surprise people with how much they’ve developed and maybe create some shock results.
So with all that talent to look forward to and a seriously strong fight for those all important qualification places, this tournament is not one to be missed!