THE Namibian Senior Ladies Inline Hockey Team recently made waves at the 2023 European Championships held in Charleroi, Belgium, where they achieved victory over Italy, securing the bronze medal.
The Senior Ladies Inline Hockey Team began the week in Pool A, competing against Spain, Great Britain, and Finland. Elmay Marais, the Public Relations Officer of the Namibia Ice and Inline Hockey Association (NIIHA), revealed that this marked the first time the Namibian Senior Ladies Inline Hockey Team participated in the Senior Division.
In the first game, Namibia suffered a defeat against Spain, the defending world champions, with a score of 9 – 1. Marais explained that the intensity of Spain’s gameplay was unprecedented for the young Namibian players and took them by surprise.
“We came here to play the Spanish, French and Italians. You can only learn how to beat something by getting out there and challenging them and pushing yourself to grow and develop. This was a great first game and I am pleased with the spirit of your team and how we handled the loss. We will only get stronger from here,” Brian Sobel, the team’s coach, said.
Namibia, however, bounced back from the opening game loss with a 9 – 0 victory over Finland, followed by a 16 – 1 triumph against Great Britain. After the round-robin play, the Namibian Senior Ladies Inline Hockey Team was ranked second in Pool A and faced Belgium in the quarter-finals. The team won the quarter-finals game 9 – 2, advancing to the semi-finals against France.
“The experience of France was a big difference in this game, which saw Namibia lose 2 – 0, but both teams exchanged great scoring chances and Namibia was able to go toe-to-toe with a powerful French team,” Marais said.
This was followed by a game against Italy the next day, which resulted in Namibia winning with a score of 4 – 0, outshooting the Italian team 50 -24.
The Senior Ladies team from Namibia is primarily composed of junior players, with only four seniors, which, according to Marais, makes the team’s placement even more impressive. In fact, she added that Namibia had three of the top 15 scorers in the tournament.
Namibia’s goalie, Bridgit Justinussen, ranked among the top goalies at the tournament, while Christine Rottcher and Leighzene Coetzee finished in the top 10 in scoring. Rottcher, who is still a junior, secured the second position in scoring for the tournament, trailing the leader by just one point.