Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Superbrawl: Canada / England / France

Team France ( 54 - 385 ) Team England
Team England ( 259 - 145 ) Team Canada
Team France ( 96 - 450 ) Team Canada

For our first official international event, Team France put the bar high in inviting Team Canada and Team England for a tournament on the French land. The sports complex of Nantes hosted 1300 people on Saturday, Feb. 15th, for a whole afternoon and evening of bouts, starting with France/England, then England/Canada and Canada/France to finish with. (Once again, congratulations to the Nantes Derby Girls for the successful organization and hosting of the event!)
I will not report on the games because the news are not that fresh anymore and because Team Canada did it pretty well already! I was disconnected for a while (two months to get the Internet!) which made the keeping up-to-date of the blog tricky (amongst other things).
Still, let's add a little French perspective to the Canadian summary!

For Team France it was not a matter of winning - such an outcome being highly improbable at our stage of national development, but of:
  1. Testing the water and getting an idea of the top of the spectrum of the international level;
  2. Going down in history in doing the first-ever international tournament with national teams in France with the French Team... And while we were at it, why not inviting the upper crust? More show, more challenge, more balls.


I believe we took England and Canada by surprise because they both needed a dozen minutes of readjustment to level up their gameplay. They probably didn't expect any challenge at all from us. But we stood up for a while! Although we knew it was just a matter of time before they adjusted and outdistanced us, we were pretty satisfied of our two game openings... and of the rest despite it all, because we held on through the storms somehow.

On both games, once the surprise effect gone, we ran into the same central problem from which resulted most of our mistakes: a slower reactivity, especially in offense-defense switch. Our games are not that different tactically speaking. There is *just* stronger power, sharper awareness, better built players... all in all: greater experience and more hours at the gym for the other side.
Our gameplay and team work should consequently level up if we fix the problem at the root (and our penalty box attendance should consequently decrease too). I guess it's going to be our main team focus for the next training.

Despite the huge score gaps, we did good actions and managed to implement some efficient strategies, which were well-thought although they didn't always work. But we had some brilliant moments when they did! Some perfect offensive timings, some great tough defensive walls from our packs, some fancy juking from our jammers...

We may not have won the wars but we won a couple of battles. It's a long hard road but we're on it!


I had the honor of being rostered on both games, which freaked me out a little at first, because flashes from the 2011 Toronto World Cup kept on coming back to me. On our previous encounter with Canada, we were just happy when we managed not to get recycled the whole 2 minutes! I couldn't play the 2011 France-England game for technical knee reasons, but I helplessly witnessed the bitter defeat from the side.
Back then, we were such babies in the world of derby that we (I?) just didn't -and couldn't- realize the size of the gap separating us from the top-teams. We knew that the gap was huge but we were not really aware of what it was made of... All those experience stages in all those various fields that punctuate an ascent. Now I know better and although (or because?) I was far more prepared, I had to mentally enter the game beforehand, contrary to the first time... "We're no match, so what? Team Canadablahblah!" Foolish, uh.
Hopefully, as usual, all the cogitating vanished at the first whistle blow. I opened both games as a jammer and me and my pack managed the feat of taking the first lead against Canada and scoring the first points of the game! I confess that I freewheeled for a second to realize (half a sec) and savor (half a sec) the two whistle blows announcing my lead, before reconnecting and plunging back into the pack to collect the first three points. A sweet victory on myself.


From the outside, it was our first real games (if you don't take into consideration the demo games of "Le Patin Français" in December) against real national teams: We showed that we were ready for competition.
We also unveiled our 2014 visual identity in wearing our official blue jerseys for the first time.
Team France is officially in the place.

From within too, the French Team gets stronger. Sharing such a challenging experience altogether, rostered and non-rostered players, gets you closer. The presence and support of our team mates were fully and actively part of the mix that made our gameplay that day. This is Team Work!

Credit: Vincent Micheletti


I have one source of pride: despite the recyclings, despite the unbreachable walls, despite the tiring, they didn't break me. Mentally.
Because physically... My ankle didn't survive the tournament. (Sounds like an after-taste of déjà-vu) But that's another story!


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