Posted 28th January 2013
EKF Inter-Regional Team Trophy 2013
The historic city of Lincoln and the new £7 million sports complex at Deans College was the venue of the inaugural EKF Inter Regional Team Trophy on Saturday 12th January 2013.
There had been growing anticipation in the build-up to this event as the rivalry grew and no one was left disappointed with the excitement and thrills of what was to prove to be highly charged and competitive first Regional Trophy. All three teams (North, Midlands and South) sent strong and determined squads. It was obvious that each had come to win, and not just make up the numbers.
The format was not the usual style for team events. Each team was made of up 16 athletes, covering the spectrum of WKF categories from Cadet to Senior. Also, instead of individual bout wins deciding the winning teams, it was the total number of points accumulated throughout the match. Each team would face the other once, with the winning team of each match being given three points for a win, and point for a draw….similar as you would find in a football league. This ensured that every match mattered, and also called upon the coaches to keep counting!
To make for even greater intensity, there was only one mat, and with spectators on all three sides, close up to the action, it made sure every fight was being watched by an expectant crowd, and fellow team members.
The officials were briefed to be strict on scoring, giving only those techniques they were 100% sure had all six criteria; conditions that fighters would expect to find in European events. It was clear that some found this difficult at first, but soon realised they needed to make greater effort if they were to succeed.
The regional coaches of Paul Simmonds (South), Ian Swain (North) and Paul Harris (Midlands) were brought together for the toss of the coin to see who would fight first. After a little gamesmanship from the north, the first match would see the Midlands face the South.
The south came flying out of the blocks, winning several matches and accumulating what seemed an unsalable lead. By match twelve, the South were winning 29-11 and seemingly running away with the tie. But the back end of the Midlands had other ideas. Carla Burkitt and then Alex Whyte took their bouts 8-0 reducing the deficit to only 2 points, the midlands then took bout fifteen by a solitary point, meaning that South now only had a one point lead. A final tight match between Hickman (Midlands) and Veras (south) was full of incident, with both fighters going close, but neither scoring. The bout was eventually decided by disqualification for the south, meaning the Midlands adding a further eight points, and running out match winners, 36-29.
A victorious Midlands coach, Paul Harris, maintained it was all part of his master plan, though we suspect he was more relieved than most. The south looked quite stunned, with their disappointed coach, Paul Simmons, taking them away from the hall to re-group for a private chat!
Next up was the South v North. There was a different, more determined attitude from the South who were clearly smarting from their earlier defeat. They knew that if they got nothing from this match, they were out of the running. The North seemed slow to pick up on the pace and by bout ten they were 16 points down to the aggressive southern team. The North began to fight harder, but the South continued to match them and anything they tried. The match eventually ran out for a 31-11 points win for the South, which this time saw a less than pleased Northern head coach, Ian Swain take his squad to one side, to share his thoughts.
So we moved to the final match; Midlands v North. The Midlands team knew that a draw was all they needed, but having seen surprisingly subdued North, they must have fancied a clean sweep of wins.
It could not have started any better for the Midlands, as Hickman lead out the Midlands against Swales (North) taking the first bout 7-0. The midlands then continued to take more bouts by the odd few points.
By bout eleven, the Midlands had a comfortable, 24-12 lead, with the north battling but not really making too much headway. Going into bout fourteen, the lead was still 24-14. Midlands only need to keep the last few matches tight, and the title was theirs. However bout fourteen was to prove a turning point. A tight match between Chris Harris and Joe Hart, saw neither fighter score but each was accumulating warnings. An unfortunate Harris was deemed to have held in the dying seconds which saw a final penalty warning and the bout go to Hart, and reduce the deficit to only two points.
Coach Paul Harris, knew the significance perhaps more than his squad. In their first match against the south, the Midlands lost a fighter, had no reserve for this category. Thus bout fifteen needed at least a 6-0 win if they were to get the minimum draw the Midlands needed. Ryan Jay (Midlands) did all he could, but the experienced Barry Meanwell (north) proved a stubborn opponent. Whilst Jay won 3-0, it meant that as bout sixteen would be an 8 point walkover for the north, and it would be North that took the match, 30-27.
So after nearly four hours of competition, the first Regionals saw each region win one, lose one, leaving all them tied on three league points each. According to the agreed rules this meant the winner would be decided by point’s difference. That is the difference between total points scored and total points conceded.
After what seemed an age of deliberations and several checks the result was confirmed. The winner of the first EKF Inter-Regional Trophy would be the Southern Region with a plus 13 difference, the Midlands took second, with plus 4, and North, paying for sluggish start, came third with minus 17.
It was jubilant South that stepped forward to collect their trophies, led by a smiling Natalie Williams, who collected winner’s cup. On this occasion the coaches, Paul Simmons and Andy Michaelidis were also given winner trophies for their efforts in the squad’s success. Credit to the losing squads who stayed to watch and applaud their Southern counterparts receiving their trophies, once again showing the excellent sportsmanship that is renowned in Karate.
The Midlands squad can perhaps consider themselves desperately unlucky, and must rue the lack of a 16th fighter in their match against the north. However this is sport, and unfortunately there are winners and losers, but all three regions proud of their efforts and acquitted themselves well.
The event marked the continuing development of the Regional programme, with eyes now turning to European Regional Championships that are scheduled for Montenegro in June.
The EKF would like to thank Mr Garry Pettit, and Shito Ryu Kofukan Lincoln club, for their assistance in helping arranging the event as well as all the staff at Deans College. Also mention to the Strike Zone medical team, and to the referees who gave up yet another afternoon to make the event work.
A special thank you is also due to the spectators and supporters of all three regions, some who travelled considerable distances and created a terrific atmosphere making the event a lively occasion. This was much appreciated by the athletes and coaches. With over 200 people in attendance, the Regional Trophy proved to a winner for everyone.
If you are interested in getting involved with your regional teams, then you should contact their regional coach for more information on when the Regional squads meet (details are on this website). The sessions are open to all EKF members on production of their membership card.