1st European Futnet Championship for women and juniors was concluded on Sunday evening in the Basque capital of Vitoria. This great sporting event offered an opportunity to see not just excellent futnet performances but also friendship and fair-play behaviour among the players.
The championship counted with the participation of seven countries – six in juniors and six among women – unfortunately, Turkey and Ukraine had to call off their participation in the last moment due to visa problems. Taking into account these circumstances, in all disciplines the teams were put into one group of six and played against each other (round robin). This way the players could enjoy lots of games which does not happen that often in these championships. Most of the group matches took place on Saturday, some were completed on Sunday morning. Before the group matches, on Saturday morning, an introductory course for futnet referees from new countries took place, followed with great interest. On Saturday evening, the opening ceremony, including a couple of traditional Basque dances, marked the official opening of the event. On Sunday morning coaches and players from new countries could attend an introductory course for coaches on basic aspects of futnet training. On Sunday afternoon it was time for semifinals, final standings matches and matches for 1st and 3rd place, traditionally followed by the medal ceremony.
The Czech Republic became the most successful team, winning all disciplines in the women’s category and two out of three golds among juniors. Although in some cases it was really very tight and, for example, in the women’s double the Slovak women, despite not being able to count with their best player due to an injury, were very close to the gold medal. Also the semifinal in the single between the Slovak and Swiss junior was extremely thrilling and kept everybody on the edge of their seat till the last ball. Having lost the match against the Swiss in the group, the Slovak player had more luck in the end in the semifinal, but the Swiss junior proved his qualities during all the tournament. Switzerland got all bronze medals, but with a bit of luck, they could have easily gone home also with some silver, if not gold. This proves that the differences between the teams are getting smaller and the competition is becoming more balanced which is good both for the players and the spectators.
The championship was organised on a very high level, from the promotion materials to the technical conditions. The Basque organizers, though newcomers to the world of futnet, had prepared very conscientiously and ensured excellent futnet conditions for the players, including three courts, official futnet nets, balls, etc. As all could see, BAKH, Sports City of Baskonia, where the tournament took place, is a state-of-the-art sports facility and EFTA and AVAFUT are very grateful to the people of BAKH for all their support before and during the championship. Hopefully, this collaboration will continue.
Of course, this was the first championship under EFTA’s auspices and as with everything that is done for the first time, there are things to work on in the future. The last-minute cancellations of Ukraine and Turkey forced out some changes in the groups and schedule and made organisers task a bit more difficult. Despite this, however, together with EFTA representatives, they managed to ensure a smooth running of the tournament.
If we should single out one aspect of the championship, apart from the commitment and hard work of Basque organisers under the leadership of Juanjo Bernal, President of the Basque Futnet Association (AVAFUT), it would be the great performances by the Basque players. In the first appearance in an international competition, they surprised everybody with their high level of technical skills and practical knowledge of futnet tactics, positions during the play, smashes, etc. Very often a team that comes to a futnet tournament for the first time plays the way that footballers do, passing the ball lots of time with the head and without much futnet tactics. But in the case of the Basque Country it was completely different, one could see that they had seen futnet videos before and that they had been explained how to play futnet. It was also clear that though they had been playing futnet for only about 6 months, they had practised a lot, having played a league and trained a lot before the championship. If they continue with the same enthusiasm and determination, they will soon be able to play an equal game with most of the countries in EFTA.
All the results can be found at championships webpage www.vitoria2011.eftacompetitions.com. The group matches and final results in each discipline were posted there already at the weekend as well as some pictures from the first day. Very soon more pictures will be uploaded.
All in all, last weekend it was a great futnet fiesta, the first one in history on the Spanish soil, and an unforgettable event for all futnet players and fans. We would like to thank again all those that made it possible: AVAFUT, in particular its president Juanjo Bernal and his mostly women’s organising team for the commitment and hard work put into this event; BAKH and people from Baskonia’s Sports City responsible for this event for their trust and support for this new sport; Óbice Comunicación for the fantastic promotion of the tournament, including the championship webpage and the newsletters. Finally, we would like to thank all the players and other members of the delegations for coming as far as Vitoria, some of them after a 20-hour journey, and for showing the best of their futnet skills to the grateful Basque spectators.
Thank you, Vitoria, thank you, AVAFUT, and we are looking forward to more futnet events in your country!