We have winners in all categories of EYUC 2017 now!
If one final was clearly expected in the minds of third-party observers, it was this one, as Germany and Austria appear to be in a league of their own in the girls U17 division. Expectations were thus pretty high in terms of the level and quality of play, and the game certainly delivered in this respect. The teams traded blow for blow all along the game, alternatively taking the lead and catching up, cheered by an enthusiastic crowd on both sides: while Austrians appeared less numerous, they were just as boisterous as their German counterparts. Weather conditions were rather poor, unfortunately, as it rained for most of the game, with a moderate crosswind. It was a drizzling rain, though, and the field was good enough not to be affected too much, but of course a slippery disc means more mistakes – well, that’s also more turnovers and an even more thrilling game! And boy was it thrilling…
This was the day of the big clashes, the in-or-out matches, the joys and the disappointments… and we had our share of these, culminating in a thriller of a final in the U17 girls division.
Italy, finalists in the U20 men division.
Terezie Dubská (CZE) and Aylin Spijker (NED)
The U17 girl’s category was created fairly recently at EYUC and is the division with the least number of teams. There’s a reason for that of course: you only put together such a team when you have already sent representatives to all other divisions, i.e. when the sport of Ultimate is in a particularly advanced state of development in your country. That’s why the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic can take special pride in competing in this category, and that’s why just being there is already an achievement: few participants, but only heavyweights.
The sun came back to Veenendaal on Wednesday and it felt good. Some rescheduling had to take place, as a few pitches had suffered from the heavy downpour of the day before, but on the whole things went pretty smoothly, given the exceptional basic quality of the fields in this magnificent sports complex.
Both Israel and Finland are regular participants in the U20 divisions of EYUC. Israel has also had a U17 team since 2011, except last year, but it was the first time Finland brought one in this category. Finland’s roster includes the youngest participant in these championships: Jooa Hurtig is only 11 years old (that's under 17, right?), but you should see him running and throwing that disc!
Over the past few years, Slovenian girls have built a reputation for being one of the friendliest teams in international youth Ultimate, trending on social networks for their funny celebrations, dances, etc. But they’ve also worked on their game, and in the women’s U20 division, playing against GUN (German Ultimate National team – relax, no one wants to kill you) is one of the ultimate (ah, ah... got it?) tests you can imagine.
On the whole, it was a rather smooth day in Veenendaal, with good weather conditions: sunny, not too hot, just enough wind to make Ultimate just that bit more interesting.
Latvia hadn't sent a team to international youth Ultimate championships since Lecco 2014. They entered one in the m20 division this year, which had a rather good start, giving a hard time to Ireland and beating Israel 15-11.
In the men’s U20 division, hosts Netherlands had the difficult task of facing both GB and France on the same day, in a pool that also includes Slovakia. The day began pretty well for the Oranje, who actually carved a 7-5 lead, but the bronze medallists of last year’s Worlds in Wroclaw reacted by scoring three goals in row, reaching half-time ahead by the slightest of margins. Both teams then traded punches until 13-14 when G-B managed to deliver the fatal blow. NED 13 – 15 GBR, a great start for an exciting group! Meanwhile, against Slovakia, France decided to apply immediate pressure, which earned them a Callahan on their second goal, thanks to the alertness of Aymeric Matenet. Never taking anything for granted, France remained relentless and did not allow a single goal, although Slovakia came close to scoring on several occasions: FRA 15 – 0 SVK. The bad news for France is that Eliott Planchin, one of their most experienced players, suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the tournament. We wish him – and the other injured players – a prompt recovery. A few hours later, Netherlands and France met on lovely pitch 9 in the glorious afternoon light...
The European Youth Ultimate Championships 2017 were officially launched yesterday. Following an impressive (and suitably noisy) parade through the streets of downtown Veenendaal, teams gathered in front of the city hall and were duly welcomed by the municipal alderman for Sports, then presented by TD Ted Beute. The young participants sang their national anthems with as much enthusiasm as they always put in their games. According to our - totally unscientific - survey, the singing contest might well have been won by Ireland, who offered a powerful rendition of "Amhran na bhFiann".
Every day during EYUC our raging reporter Francois-Xavier will make reports of games and post them here.
Tune in to find your name and impressive action in these pieces.