THE Namibian Junior Men’s Inline Hockey Team delivered an impressive performance at the 2023 European Championships held in Charleroi, Belgium, where they secured the fifth position.
The team faced France, Switzerland, and Great Britain in Pool 2, losing against France with a score of 6 – 5 in overtime, and securing victories against Switzerland and Great Britain with scores of 7 – 3 and 9 – 6, respectively.
Following the pool play, the team advanced to the top 6 and engaged in a mini-round robin against Slovakia and Italy. Namibia faced Slovakia first and achieved victory, winning 7 – 4, but suffered a loss against Italy with a score of 5 – 1 the next day.
However, after Slovakia beat Italy, the three teams entered tiebreakers, and Namibia found themselves out of the final 4, playing for the fifth place against Finland.
“Namibia came out for the fifth-place game with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove and won the game 7-4. The Spar Junior Men played some great hockey and really shook up the Euro Championships with their speed and skill. The gold medal game saw Spain defeat France 3-1,” Elmay Marais, the Public Relations Officer of the Namibia Ice and Inline Hockey Association (NIIHA), explained.
The Namibian team’s Keenan Simpson finished second overall in scoring, James De Jager finished in the top 10, and JW Coetzee and Mati Laporte finished in the top 20. Thomas Kock anchored the team in goal, and his numbers placed him in the upper tier of goaltenders.
“These boys did great. The tiebreakers got us, its life, we had Italy where we wanted them and came out flat. It’s a shame. This team was capable of making the gold game, but as with most competitive sports, sometimes it not your day, one slip-up can end your run. I am excited about where this team is headed and look forward to worlds next year. I would like to thank Spar for their support, and we plan to keep work and developing,” their coach, Brian Sobel, said.