August 2019 saw the New Zealand Men’s Fistball Team travel to Winterthur, Switzerland to compete in the 2019 Fistball Men’s World Championships.
Beginning a week before the tournament, the boys got their chance to warm up against some pretty tough competition, competing in the Obersee Masters Tournament in Jona, Switzerland, before traveling to Germany join the Australian men’s team in a training camp.
Then it was on to the Men’s World Champs (MWC), months of hard work and training finally coming together!
MWC Day 1: The New Zealand Men’s Fistball team took on Serbia in their first game. Day 1 coincided with defensive player, Caleb Baker’s birthday and going home with a win was the only gift that mattered. Fans at home were treated to an extra special Facebook live stream (as this game wasn’t officially streamed) which taught us some valuable lessons about the passion of our at home supporters J. NZ took a convincing win in the first set but the Serbians came back strong, leading to a nail-biting finish but ultimately a 3-2 win for New Zealand – our first win of the Fistball Men’s World Cup!
MWC Day 2: An afternoon game against the Czech Republic was the boys first game in the big stadium. By the 3rd set the boys were really hitting their stride and had some great points but unfortunately Czech took the win 3-0.
MWC Day 3: Day 3 was the first time the guys had to play 2 games in one day – Belgium and Poland. Belgium was first up, the New Zealand men had a convincing 3-0 win leaving them amped up for their next game less than 2 hours later. The second game saw some excellent Fistball played with the kiwi men taking out the win 3-1. We also got to see a header from our resident footballer which lost one fistball point but won the hearts of everybody else so it was definitely worth it. This win put us in the top 12 which meant going on to the double elimination round which was starting the next day for the top 12 teams. A loss would have meant fighting it out for the President’s Cup for the 13th-18th placed teams.
MWC Day 4: First game of the double elimination round was against Chili who had placed 3rd in their pool, losing against Brazil and Switzerland but defeating USA. The guys knew it would be a tough game but it was a mammoth effort and they played some beautiful fistball. They even managed to take a set off Chile but ultimately lost 3-1.
MWC Day 5: By this point in the double elimination rounds we were having to wait for results to see who we would play next but the first game of Day 5 saw us pitted against Italy. The boys warmed up in some atrocious weather and after getting soaked to the bone, then jumped on the main field in the stadium for a very warm and sunny game with a rapidly drying field. This variable weather lead to some interesting fistball and some close sets but ultimately the NZ men lost 3-0.
MWC Day 6: There was a lot riding on Day 6’s game against USA – a win would take us through to the next day to vie for 9th and 10th or a loss would see the guys play their final game that afternoon to see who would take out 11th and 12th. Unfortunately, it was a loss against the USA but the boys rallied for final game of the championship against Denmark later that afternoon. This final game was also the last opportunity for defensive player, Dave Dowall, to get his own face on the big screen beside his name, previously having his details put up beside the face of fellow defender, Andrew Buston, and then brother, Blase Dowall. Unfortunately for Dave, it was not to be, but more importantly it was a convincing 3-0 win against Denmark which saw New Zealand take 11th place of 18 teams at the Fistball Men’s World Championships 2019. This final game also saw Captain/Coach/NZFA President, Blase Dowall, hang up his boots as he retired from the New Zealand national team, followed by a moving Haka from the rest of his team. It was also the last national game for his brother, Dave Dowall, making for a couple of emotional moments to end what was an amazing championship.
MWC Day 7: Though the tournament wasn’t over for the top 10 teams, the bottom 8 made sure to celebrate at the end of Day 6 so Day 7 was filled with a hungover morning playing Hornussen (It is impossible to explain what that is and we could never do it justice so you might need to Youtube that one). The afternoon was spent watching the best fistball teams in the world battle it out for the top spots. Ultimately Germany proved why they deserved to be number one yet again after remaining unbeaten for the whole tournament.
Thanks to the fistball community for all the love and support we received in Winterthur but also to all those behind the scenes who helped to ensure that the whole thing was an absolutely incredible experience for our guys.
We absolutely loved it and can’t wait to keep growing Fistball in New Zealand.