The countdown to the fistball edition of The World Games officially started in Alabama with the presence of the athletes from Germany and the USA. Fistball was played in Birmingham for the first time ever. In the lead-up to the 2022 World Games, which will be held in the Alabama city in July, the National Teams of the USA and the International Fistball Association (IFA) paid a visit to the host city. Thanks to several exciting activities, the eyes of Birmingham were glued on fistball.
Preparation of the US national Teams
On Saturday morning the time had come for the first fistballs to fly in Birmingham. Four and a half months before the World Games, the U.S. National Teams took the opportunity to hold their dress rehearsal in Birmingham for what is probably the greatest sporting moment in American fistball history. For the first time ever, USA fistball players will compete at The World Games. More specifically, in the men’s competition and the inaugural women’s competition. “For us, this is a great honor to represent the U.S. at the World Games in our home country,” said attacker Eric Kindler. After finishing eighth and tenth at the past two World Championships, the U.S. will enter the field of eight men’s teams as underdogs. However, they’ve surprised the big-name competition time and again in the past. In order to hold their own against the best teams in the world, the training sessions will be intensified in the coming months.
The training in Birmingham was an important step in the direction of the World Games especially since the U.S. players were able to measure themselves against guest Patrick Thomas from Germany, who is currently probably the best fistball player in the world. “It was huge for us to have Patrick, along with his brother Sebastian, lead the training on Saturday and later to compete in the practice matches. While we may not see the desired result in the win loss column at The World Games, heads will turn and notice what is happening with the US Teams,” said Eric Kindler. Patrick Thomas was also thrilled, “When you think about the conditions of the national teams compared to the European nations, it’s just impressive what’s being done here. They all gave full throttle and already have The World Games in focus. I think they might be able to cause a surprise or two in July.”
There was an insight into the sport of fistball for those interested on Saturday afternoon. After a theoretical introduction, the sports enthusiasts, guided by Eric Kindler, Patrick and Sebastian Thomas, and Christoph Oberlehner, could prove themselves on the fistball field. Also, the employees from The World Games organization team Nicole Fyffe (Sports Director) and Katey Harris (Community Experience Manager) used the opportunity to gain their first personal experience with the sport of fistball. They were cheered on by several World Games colleagues such as COO Jay Kasten, Vice President Kathy Boswell, Volunteer Director Carly Woods and TV Director Hammond Reynolds.
“Young and old alike took advantage of the opportunity to learn about a sport that was completely new to them,” said Christoph Oberlehner, IFA secretary general. “They were all enthusiastic and had an incredible amount of fun. Some didn’t even want to stop playing. The majority of the participants will support us as volunteers at The World Games.”
Women’s National Team Holds Tryouts
It’s quite possible, in fact, that female athletes from Birmingham will also participate in The World Games fistball competition. At a tryout hosted by the IFA and the U.S. Fistball Association (USFA) on Sunday, several talented volleyball players from Alabama played their way into the spotlight and now have a chance to make the U.S. Women’s National Fistball Team in the coming months. They surprised with great performances during a joint training session with the current National Team hopefuls and even though this weekend was their first contact with fistball. Patrick and Sebastian Thomas, who jointly led the training, were also impressed by the quick grasp, ball feeling and understanding of the game with which the players shone. “What they learned in a very short time was great,” the brothers stated, “They have all the basic requirements to compete at international level. If they continue to train over the next few months, we trust they will make the squad for The World Games.”
View of The World Games Venue
By Sunday morning at the latest, the anticipation for The World Games must have risen once again among all American fistball players. Christoph Oberlehner (IFA Secretary General) and Eric Kindler (member of the IFA Athletes’ Committee), gave the athletes an insight into the Birmingham Southern College campus. This is where the 2022 World Games fistball competitions will be held from July 10-14. “With the support of the organizing committee in Birmingham, we are doing everything we can to put on a great fistball festival here,” Christoph Oberlehner tells us. The World Games in Birmingham will be something very special anyway. For the first time there will be a women’s competition as well as a men’s competition. Oberlehner goes on, “We are so excited for the opportunity for the Women’s competition to be added to The World Games. Precious metal awards in two categories will be earned this July.”
Hopeful Look to the Future
In any case, Christoph Oberlehner drew a positive conclusion. “Our visit was a complete success,” reported the IFA General Secretary: “We made many new contacts and were able to present fistball in Birmingham.” He added that there is even a possibility that a new fistball venue will be added to the well-known American ones such as in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Oberlehner said, “The response has been positive throughout. We’ve gained a lot of new fistball fans here in Birmingham and we’re already looking forward to seeing the world’s best fistball teams compete for The World Games title in July.”