The New Zealand women’s canoe polo team (Paddle Ferns) beat Germany 3-2 this morning to secure gold at the canoe polo world championships in Syracuse, Italy.
The team captained by Jordan Housiaux went undefeated throughout the championships; however, in the last game of pool play drew with the defending champion German side 2-2. The Paddle Ferns went on to face 3rd ranked France in their semi final to topple them 4-2 to send the paddle ferns through to the grand final.
The final was a powerful display of what the paddle ferns had to offer, Housiaux scored the first goal in the opening minutes of the game, followed by Emma Hicks of Palmerston North. The team went into half time up by 2 and feeling the positive support of the crowd.
Early into the second half the Germans put on offensive pressure, however, the paddle ferns stayed cool, calm and collected and with some outstanding goaling by Kate Bolton held the Germans out for most of the half.
With 7 minutes to go the Germans turned the heat up and managed to turn over the ball, only to be shut down by the kiwi’s defence. Desperation set in for the Germans with 4 minutes left on the clock and they played a ‘press’ (one on one marking) on the paddle ferns, however, a bit of pressure was nothing for the paddle ferns who retained the ball and kept pressure on the offensive.
3 minutes remained in the game and the German side made a vital error by an illegal substitution taking their team down to 4 players for 2 minutes of the game, however, managed to come back and score 2 goals in the remaining time. Germany’s comeback had come too late as the Paddle Ferns had done enough to secure them the gold medal for 2016.
The last time the NZ women won a medal it was at the 2006 world championships where they secured the silver medal, losing to Germany. Of the silver medal team two players Olivia Spencer-Bower and Megan Lyons still represent NZ in the paddle ferns. The gold medal is the first ever gold for NZ canoe polo.
The build up for the world championships has been 15 months of hard work including 7 training and selection camps, as well as competing as a team in the national league competition, and heading over to Europe a month early to acclimatise and compete in local tournaments.
Coach Peter Housiaux said he felt ‘pretty good’ after the gold winning match ‘the women deserved the medal and have worked their hearts out and the total team work and total trust’ won them the game.
From here after a well deserved rest the team will be focusing on the world games in Wroclaw, Poland next year. After coaching for the past 4 world championships Housiaux’s message for New Zealand players was ‘keep going at it, we have a huge number of top athletes coming through and feeding in. The more we get in, the better we get at these types of events’.
The NZ tour was its most successful to date as the final placing for the teams were:
1st Paddle Ferns
3rd Junior Paddle Ferns
5th Paddle Blacks
6th Junior Paddle Blacks
Game footage can be found at https://www.facebook.com/emaah.hicks/videos/10208915808230873/
Jordan Housiaux (c)
Coach: Peter Housiaux
Womens Manager: Jane Bertelsen
James Mitchell (c)
Coach: Steve Hunt
Mens Manager: Lisa Hunt
U21 Junior Paddle Ferns
Stephanie Dryfhout (c)
Jordyn Pfeiler (vc)
Coach: Luke Anderson
U21 Junior Paddle Blacks
Sam Hapeta (c)
Coach: Mike Taylor