With the opening match between hosts Brazil and arch-rivals Argentina all wrapped up the night before, the Aussies woke up bright and early on the morning of Wednesday, October 26th, ready to take on the world… or at least some of it.
They donned their official playing attire for the first time – choosing to go with the attention-grabbing alternate purple strip for the day’s games – and starting warming up at the official tournament venue, knowing that they were in for an international fistball baptism of fire. On this day they would face the “Big 3″ of European fistball – reigning World Championship runners-up Austria first, then Switzerland, the current World Champions Germany. Thankfully the Possums were smart enough to quickly solidify some strong friendships between their upcoming opponents on the previous days, ensuring that at the very least these powerhouse teams would feel bad if they chose to utterly humiliate the inexperienced Aussie outfit.
First off the ranks was Austria, and it wasn’t long before the divide was apparent. Despite battling on admirably, the Aussies were quickly outclassed and sent packing in a swift 2:0 (11:1, 11:3) defeat, the highlight for the Aussies being their first legitimate winning point on the international stage. The Swiss were next, but they were less forgiving. Again, the Aussies worked hard, but they simply didn’t have the power or class or rob the Swiss of a point, laying 2 solid goose eggs on their way to being thoroughly smashed 2:0 (11:0, 11:0). However, as Yoda would say; in every crushing defeat, learning to be had, there is.
In their final matchup for the day, the Aussies took on current World Champions and bus transfer buddies Germany. Perhaps sensing the opportunity for the Aussies to get some serious game experience, the Germans arguably took it reasonably easy on the girls in purple, dialing back their power game to promote some healthy rallies between the two teams. Of course, this also helped the Germans to avoid any unnecessary injuries against the novice squad, but it was a welcome approach for the girls, allowing them to get into a rhythm on the field and allow them to work on their structures. Of course, the Germans still won quite easily – 2:0 (11:2, 11:0) – but the extended game time resulted in some rallies that will surely be in the highlights for the Possums on this tour.
It was a day with few thrilling matches between the other Championship teams until the final 2 matchups, with traditional rivals Austria and Switzerland battling out a three set thriller – Austria winning 2:1 (11:6, 6:11, 11:9) – and Germany needing three sets to overcome an impressive Brazilian team, coming back from one set down to take the match 2:1 (9:11, 11:8, 11:7).
Tomorrow the Aussies will take on the South American half of the tournament – Argentina, Brazil and then Chile. Despite the one-sided losses so far, by all accounts the Possums are having the time of their lives, and the experience they will return back to Australia with will surely prove to be invaluable.
Fist on, Possums!