Latvia’s Women have made an encouraging start to their WCBU2017 campaign. They defeated perennial power Germany 10-8, but then fell to Great Britain 9-6. Still, that game contained plenty of positives for the Baltic team – their offence for much of the game was good, their catching was on the whole excellent and they have some players who are clearly capable of making spectacular, valuable plays. Their game later in the day against Russia was less close but still saw some huge plays from Latvian cutters.
This is the first time at Beach Worlds for Latvia. They played at Euros in 2013 in Calafell, Spain, and managed a very creditable sixth place ahead of more established powers like France, Italy and Finland. They’ve been preparing for some time, though, as their coach Martins Gosars explains:
“We play indoors for eight months of the season, so we play a lot of five on five. We can bring some of that to this tournament. The girls have been training a lot, made a lot of throws, so it has been good experience for this tournament.
“It is not hard for us to find a beach, and because the country is quite small it’s not hard for us to train together. We had three trainings per week for the last three months. Most of the players come to the trainings so it’s really good.”
The squad clearly trust and work hard for each other. In their games against Great Britain and Russia, both losses, the women kept running hard and made a number of very impressive one-handed catches and layout grabs. Captain Dace Cirule says:
“We play a lot of indoors so there is no wind, here the disc is going up and down. I think the personality of the players we have is that they really want to catch the disc and they do everything that they can every time to catch it. We all want to play for each other, definitely. We are all doing our best and no one wants to be the one to let the team down.”
Despite lacking some of the experience and pedigree of some other teams here, Latvia have shown that they can at the very least pose a threat to some of the top teams. Since it’s still so early in the tournament, neither Cirule or Gosars is keen to set a specific aim in terms of placings, but they’re keen to emphasise that Latvia will give each game their best and try to do the very best they can:
“We came here to get a good place in the championships,” says Gosars.
“That’s what we’ll stick to.We dream of the top six but I think in the Women’s division there is a very strong field of teams and you can be fifth at one championships and twelfth at the next. It’s really important how the team feels and plays with each other, and we think we can do it.”
“I don’t want to call anything now, but we definitely want to do our best,” agrees Cirule. “We want to show everyone how good Latvia is, and we want to make sure we have a better seeding for the next tournament.”
If they keep making the same spectacular plays that they’ve been making so far in the tournament, every neutral should be hoping that Latvia can be the underdog who comes good.
By Sean Colfer.