Seven players from Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball team will be gunning for world glory after being selected to represent the United Kingdom.
Player-coach and record cap holder Martin Cates will be joined by club mates Ian Parker,competing in his third major tournament, Richard Jackson, Richard Gosling and Ben Wallace in the men’s team, while Sara Eden and Lois Rollin have been included in the women’s team at the World Championships in Taiwan.
And while, Parker is hopeful the group’s domestic success, which includes national beach and Domini Fox Championship titles, can be transferred to the national side, he is well aware that the men’s and women’s UK teams, currently ranked sixth and third respectively in Europe, and their neighbouring countries, are far from favourites to lift the title.
“Realistically we know that the Aisan teams and particularly defending champions Taiwan are the clear favourites,” Said, Parker, whose Bury side currently sit top of the national league.
“The best side in Europe, Austria played a university side from Taiwan and were beaten so that just shows you how strong they are, they definitely raise the level of the sport.
“We are ranked sixth in Europe and so if we could reach the semi-finals and would be a massive achievement.
“The teams are split into groups depending on seeding and that should help us because we are ranked quite strongly.
“For us it will be great experience and all of us will enjoy the occasion.
“Having that bond already from our club matches is a big bonus because the partnerships are already strong.
“The guys who play for Bury all have that winning mentality because we have become used to winning.
“That has been the case all season and hopefully we can transfer that attitude to the international games.”
But while the world title may realistically be out of reach for the nation, Parker knows an appearance for the UK on the sport’s biggest stage holds great significance for the future of the fast growing popularity of Tchoukball back home.
“If we can do well than it will really help promote the sport back here in the UK,” he added.
“That is the key thing for me as the coach of the national development squad, it is all about encouraging more people into the sport.
“It has grown massively in recent years and that will only increase if we can do well at a major tournament and challenge for a medal.”