A brief insight into the European Championship 2019
Last month I probably had one of the best times of my life to date – going to the European Championship with the GB Women’s Flag Football team. When I say it was probably one of the best times, I’m not joking – I love football, the team and my job. It sits up there alongside winning the national championship with Durham University in spring 2018.
For four days straight I was up at 05:30am and worked non-stop until at least 12.30pm. Even after evening treatments had finished, I would need to prepare the pitch-side bags for the next day and upload data to my laptop. So, bedtime was normally about 1am.
Over the course of the tournament I provided a variety of services, including; recovery (hydro and land-based), manual therapy, electro-stimulation, pitch-side first aid, sports strapping, kinesio-taping and conducting warmups. Each day was non-stop, and it didn’t stop there!
Before the trip there were weeks of preparation and hours of conversations with our head coach and general manager. Even following the tournament, injury reports had to be written. The work of a Sports Therapist isn’t easy, but it is certainly very enjoyable if you love what you do, and I’m grateful to have worked with such a great team of staff and athletes. A big bonus was that thankfully we had no major injuries!
When travelling away with a team as a sports therapist you are more of a chameleon than a human, adapting to whatever situation comes your way. For example, due to our early morning KO times, I was often strapping players on the rickety bus, trying my best to do a perfect job while not falling over.
As a sports therapist I enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, so being in a new place was a great opportunity to get to know others and to get to know my team even better. We never had a dull moment during treatments or recovery sessions with many a laugh!
The highlight of my trip has to be pitch-side watching the Great Britain vs Austria semi-final. We had played Austria in the first game of the tournament and had unfortunately lost 6-27. Going into the semi-final, we knew we could beat them following our preparation and because of our level of skill. The game was a close match, with a one score difference at the end of the first half. In the second half we pulled away, winning 38-25. The excitement of the game, seeing the GB team compete at their best and the pure joy radiating from the women due to winning against the formidable Austria was incredible to see. (Austria hadn’t lost for over a decade and we had just beaten them). A special mention has to go to our men’s team who supported us along the way from the side-lines!
Israel and IFAF hosted a great tournament, supplying us with great facilities, food and entertainment. Although I didn’t get to see any of the country during the trip I am keen to return.
I’m really grateful to the staff and team for helping me collect data while I was away with them, even on the evening of our final day. Alongside my duties as a sports therapist I collected a range of data which I hope I’ll be able to use in a meaningful way to help develop the sport and our team.
Although we didn’t win the gold medal we were after, I am super proud of the team and the way we developed within the 5 months together and across the tournament. I’m looking forward to working more with the team over the next year to prepare for worlds. It was a very special moment being on the podium with the team and holding our mini Lombardi trophy. Here’s hoping the next medal we get is gold!
A comment from the Head Coach
Head Coach Dean Whittingslow kindly offered his perspective on the European Championship 2019 tournament:
“What the staff and players managed to achieve in Israel was phenomenal. In just 5 months, we implemented 2 new playbooks, saw the players’ abilities and understanding of the game improve vastly, and more importantly, they were able to go to Israel and execute everything we’d planned for. To win against the teams played, including Austria in the manner we did, will leave a lasting smile across all of our faces, but losing in the final will always be disappointing, especially after beating Spain earlier in the competition. However, it gives us a bunch of stuff to work on in the offseason and into next year before the World Championship; the rest of the world had better watch out… we’re coming for them.”
Worlds here we come!
Here are some photos from the European Championship 2019 tournament: