South Melbourne in the 2016 Fistball World Cup

With the 2016 Fistball World Cup about to kick off in just 2 days in Cape Town, South Africa, now seems like a good time for a quick overview of why it’s kind of a big deal.

What exactly is the Fistball World Cup? Well, as opposed to Fistball World Championships (which are for fistballing nations) the World Cup is instead for fistballing clubs. One club may qualify from each continental federation – Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North and South America – and these clubs battle it out in a single tournament for the title of bestest fistball club in the whole darn world (albeit for just that one year). World Cups are held yearly, in a different country each year.

So, who is representing the fine continental federation of Oceania at this World Cup? Well, after popping up at the zero hour to pinch the 2015 Roger Willen Shield from the grasp of their furious rivals, the South Melbourne Fistball Club (then named The Fist & The Furious) earned their place at the table on the world stage by qualifying as Australian (and effectively, Oceanic) club champions. With the formation of the New Zealand Fistball Association this year, a Kiwi club will be able to challenge future RWS winners for World Cup qualification… but for now, the Aussie champion is also the Oceanic champion (“Default! Default!”). No word yet on how formation of the American Samoa Fistball Association is going.

So, who are the other representatives? Well, German powerhouse club TSV Pfungstadt Faustball are the undoubted favourites of the tournament, fielding a team that includes 4 players from the recent World Champion German national team, including the “LeBron James of fistball” – Patrick Thomas. After some recent retirements from the German national team, Pfungstadt now field 6 players from that national squad, and their incredible depth of talent has seem them win every club trophy possible. They have beaten incredibly strong clubs from Austria, Switzerland and Italy to earn their place in Cape Town for this tournament as European Champions.

Representing South America, Brazilian club Mercês Punhobol are the other club realistically expected to challenge Pfungstadt for the World Cup title, fielding 2 national team players from the most recent World Championships, including captain Jayme Andrioli. They will be firmly focused on derailing the German steamtrain and taking home the trophy, having beaten clubs from Argentina and Chile to be there.

Representing Africa, the The Archbishops of Banterbury are a mostly unknown quantity outside of the South African Fistivus tournaments. Unlike the vast majority of the most recent South African national fistball team, they appear to be young and seemingly athletic. Will crowd favourite Rory “Hotballz” Liedeman be playing for them, slamming into fistball poles and launching haymakers to the backcourt? We’re not totally sure. Either way, the South Melbourne Green Demons will be trying to make sure Austraila’s one-sided fistballing dominance over South Africa continues at every level.

So, who will be taking the field for the mighty “Green Demons” (aka “Dim Sums”)? Incredibly, South Melbourne will be fielding 8 players at this tournament… an monumental feat, given it often seems hard enough to get 5 players to turn up for a tournament in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The squad includes 4 Australian national team players, 1 of who is on loan from the Fistroy Lions, 1 seasoned Brazilian import, 2 seasoned journeymen now based out of Darwin, and 1 out of Canberra. All (except the Lion), made significant contributions to their 2015 VFL championship title.

The playing squad are as follows:
~ Jason Beelders (captain)
~ Lee Morony
~ Jason Denholm
~ Dale Honeybun
~ Paolo Nicolas
~ Lucas Traverso
~ Alfredo Sandoval
~ Eric Maddocks

The schedule for the Green Demons is as follows:
~ SMGD vs Merces, Friday 14th, 12pm (9pm Melbourne time)
~ SMGD vs TSV Pfungstadt, Friday 14th, 1pm (10pm MT)
~ SMGD vs Archbishops of Banterbury, Friday 14th, 3pm (12am MT)

The third place playoff and final will be played the following day at 2pm (11pm MT) and 4pm (1am MT) respectively.

There is no live stream unfortunately, but watch this space for photos and videos to be shared as they arrive.

Fist on, Dim Sims!