With GB taking on the rest of world next week in Dubai at the World Championships of Beach Ultimate the Showgame previews all the squads going. Thanks to Rob Schumacher, Philippa Sturt, Paul Waite, Dave Grayson, Simon Brasse and Steph Balsys for their contributions!
The open boys weren’t giving much away when questioned, but their names alone speak volumes. With so much experience on grass as Clapham (with the added bonus of Chevron giant Sam Bowen) and roster crossover with the European Paga super team UTI, they will be hard to beat.
With this chemistry already instilled they have bypassed the need to gel together a new team, and with little beach specific training leading up to Dubai we should expect to see a heavily Clapham style of play on the Arabic sands.
As ever, these players have been hitting the track and gym with some added mini on grass to further their cohesion in their aim for gold.
Robert Schumacher told us that:
“There are no un-notable players. The team will be the scariest most athletic team there, and we’re tall as well which helps a lot on beach. I am really looking forward to playing the Philippines, never played against them, their style is completely different.”
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Fun fact: Pretty sure they can field a line of players that are 6′ 3″ at least.
Three of this team (Bex and Katey Forth, Nici Prien) currently live outside the UK and two more (Ellie Hand, Catherine Gainey) have only just returned to the UK so their training program for WCBU has consisted mostly of a gym, track and plyo program which has been followed at home; the team has only officially ‘trained’ twice – once at a training camp in Tenerife, and also at Lisbon MOW a couple of weeks ago.
Philippa Sturt tells how the team keep in touch between those sessions:
“we have had fortnightly team conference calls and have been performing weekly fitness tests at home so the captains can keep an eye on our progress.”
While training mostly against mixed teams in the run up to Worlds, at Lisbon MOW they encountered the German women’s team twice. Both games were very windy and they came away having won one each so there’s everything to play for in pool play in Dubai!
Several players on this team were at the last WCBU where GB beat the USA in pool play but were knocked out by Canada in a closely fought semi final, only for the USA to beat Canada in the final…
” … so we have plenty of things to prove this time around. Throughout our training the captains have made one thing very clear and that is that we are serious about winning this tournament.”
Bex and Katey, Chrissy, Jackie, Francesca, Izzy and Ellie have all played on Super Hotpot, the women’s team that has dominated Paganello for several years now, so these girls are very accustomed to big beach finals. Expect fast disc movement, aggressive defence and serious beach stuff.
“The mixed division in Dubai will be arguably the toughest division at WCBU, all the way through there are teams of quality players and ability. Trying to judge how we will do is nigh on impossible. Currently the format is two pools of 9 which means the initial seedings pretty much go out of the window as well. With Sweden, The Netherlands and Portugal only entering teams into the mixed division, the top 14 is packed with teams that could potentially make the quarters. As a result we are going in fully aware that every game counts.
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This year we have decided to take a larger squad than usual (20 in total) since we will be dealing with three games a day plus what could be high temperatures. This will allow players to rest periodically during the week and have some reserve in the tank come Wednesday evening and Thursday.
There will be a few new names to most in this team but there is also a great deal of experience too. With the team evenly split between Brighton and London there is already an amount of cohesion between the group. Shocker (which all of the Brighton team play for) came a very respectable 3rd at Paganello last year, narrowly missing out on reaching the final.
At the moment the team is very evenly balanced. Players to watch out for will change game to game. However my personal picks for up and coming players are Hannah Brew (Brighton) and Laurence Gill (Brighton). Hannah has already proven her worth at GB u23 level and is a solid handler, with throws, skill and composure of a player much senior to her years. Gill, weighing in at merely 65kg flies across the sand, once he is off it is hard to catch up. In addition, Adam Lothian (Thundering Herd/Fire of London) joins the GB Mixed ranks, bringing an all-out defensive style to the team. If there is a block to make it will usually be him coming out with the disc in his paws.”
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This team came together after two hotly contested trial weekends in September of 2014. Representation comes from a cross-section of the new and old faces to the Masters division. For some it will be their first time representing GB and for others, just another week long tournament in a glittering career on the national circuit. They have been working hard to meet as a group, with weekend trainings once a month and 3 competitive tournaments under their belts.
The leadership comprises of Kate Markey, Steve Balls and Simon Brasse. All are with international experience and Steve is a gold medal winner with GB Mixed Masters from the previous WCBU cycle. Kate has plenty of mixed leadership experience having lead Bristol for the last two seasons. Simon was the captain of Thundering Herd for 5 years and took them to XEUCF 2009, WUCC 2010 and EUCF 2013.
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The Mixed Masters division in Dubai is a challenging place to be and everyone there plans to compete at the top of their game. With two round robin stages in the format they will have plenty of opportunity to size up the competition competition. Simon Brasse says “…[we won’t] take our eyes off the next point so we have not set ourselves a potential finishing position. Rather we will play to our strengths and use our extensive preparation to play at the peak of our abilities and come home smiling.”
Exciting additions to the team include Steve Balls, Beth Rougier, Mike Palmer and Jaison DeCicco, who are all going to Dubai to defend their gold medals won with GB Mixed Masters in 2011. In addition to these seasoned superstars a mystical aura surrounds those players who will be getting their first taste of GB Masters experience. In particular Graham Bailey and Mark Garbers who are both gifted with the speed of gazelles on sand and the athleticism to keep up with anyone. In addition Caroline Homer, Rachel Dunford, Vanessa Skelton, Daniel Cozens, and Mike Lewis are welcomed to the GB fold. All proved themselves worthy of their call ups over the two stages of the trial process and have continued to do so cince. Other highly notables include Mark ‘Leftie’ Greenhalgh (GB Masters Beach 2011), Maggie Balls and Angela Caulfield who were both capped in Japan 2012 and bring a wealth of experience to the team.
“GB Mixed Masters are as ready we can be and can’t wait for our first game in Dubai”
The Open Masters squad is made up of 15 men who are excited to be bringing their mature level of fitness to the beach. They have a few survivors of the team that won Euros a couple of years ago, and have supplemented it with some outstanding and brilliant (sic.) youngsters. They warmed up with a win at the inaugural Baby ITZ cold outside tournament in January in Bournemouth. Of course they aim to medal at the tournament – though they know that the likes of USA, Canada and Phillipines in the division are going to be very tough to take down. France are also bound to be good and David Grayson said the team “…are look forward to repeating the final of ECBU a couple of years ago.”
A late change to the squad with Jon Palmer sadly breaking his foot playing schmindoors, sees the exciting addition of Manchester’s finest Ewen Buckling.
Notable players include Paganello legends Dave Bixler, with his traditional repertoire of no look/no blame throws, and Joe F Bolton, who is never happier than when spending a week sprinting in the heat.
Watch out for pale skinned people looking very hot (not that sort of hot).
Don’t expect long warm ups or sand socks.
Women’s Masters at WCBU has brought together 12 stellar ladies from various club teams, backgrounds and locations around the UK: ex-Iceni players and all-round big names Kate Ford and Steph Bolton, experienced SYC girls Nicky Thomas and Sarah Roushanzamir, Punt’s star cutters Nancy Rawlings & Christina Hunter plus key seasoned handlers Laura Wilson, Laura Santos (Phoenix/Thundering Herd) and Katja Ulbrich, and all round sand demon Megan Rorhssen (Bristol).They all join up with the strong Brighton connection which the formidable Alize “Bob” Clough shares with Kate Ford and Steph Balsys – the three having played together on grass and beach for years.
A good half of the team have played in various iterations of GB grass and sand squads. This is a team with great collective experience, depth, energy and a killer spirit. Steph Balsys struggled to “…pick star players out you would have to list them all! You’ll see plenty of individual genius, but we’re all backing each other to do it all, with a sensible head and positive word. That faith is sheer buzz. And it’s what we’ll ride high on in Dubai.”
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To qualify for the division you have to be born in 1985 or later. It’s fair to say that this is a young team – the average age is around 30 years. Whilst the individual connections are many and strong, this familiarity meant that the team could have lost motivation train together over the cold winter months, for a tournament at the beginning of March. Luckily, preparation appears to have been an absolute joy thanks to the effortlessness of how the team has gelled. Smart, efficient, positive.
“We’ve had a storming few training sessions on a chilly but sun-drenched Bournemouth beach and two warmup tournaments in frightful cold (Baby Itz Cold Outside, Bournemouth) and slightly more temperate climes (Cremas, Barcelona). There’ve been some exotic training sessions in Malaysia, Uganda and Iran for various teammates, and… Indoor Winter league happened too. There’s been as much hilarity off pitch as determination, smarts and intensity on pitch. The silver ware and spirit prizes have rolled in from those adventures and we can’t wait for the challenge of the top teams in Dubai.”
The division is hot. Day 1 alone sees them facing reigning champs Canada, beach fiends Philippines and the notoriously athletic, experienced Fins. What a draw, what battles. Bring on that day. As for their goals, Steph told us
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“…we’re not going in driven by finishing positions or specific wins. We’re going in to challenge, create our chances, take our opportunities and believe that every game is up for the taking.”
Only for players born before 1975, this team is of course rife with experience and reads like a UK ultimate hall of fame. The large squad of 19 is not short of GB Pedigree, and with the combination of international experience on grass and sand, as well as the tactical masterminding of Benji ‘Understand Ultimate’ Heywood, this team will be showing their presence on the pitch is even stronger than that on Britdisc.
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After coming 3rd (from 4) at ECBU 2013 a small proportion of that team are returning to the beach raring to take on the rest of the world and make a mark. Expect sleeping in the shade and swearing galore. But seriously, these guys and girls will show us all how to play with flair and have a great time doing it! In a wide open division all will be to play for, and this team will surely be looking to sneak some silverware.
From everyone at the Showgame…
LETS GO GB!!!