April 2015 marks the most impressive month for the North Easts only Korfball club, achieving promotion into the top tier of Scottish Korfball and being the first English club to do so. StormKorball.com spoke to an elated club curator Lee Guest, just days after helping lift the SKL Division Two Cup.
SK.com: After founding the club and a tireless effort in bringing competitive Korfball to the North East of England, how does it feel having lifted the Division 2 cup?
I can’t imagine a better feeling in our first competitive season! The club has surpassed every expectation, not just by the prospect of promotion, but by the way it has carried itself on and off the pitch. I couldn’t be prouder of the players and the enthusiasm of the committee who have been outstanding throughout!
SK.com: Honestly. Were you expecting to do so well in Division 2 this season, or has this came as a surprise?
Right from the start of the season, our ideal aim was to try and achieve promotion but we obviously had no idea if that would be feasible. As the season has gone on, our club and all its members have gone from strength to strength and we could quickly see that getting to the play offs was a realistic target. We have some strong, established players that have consistently helped us win games throughout the season but the surprise has been seeing how quickly some of our newer members have improved to become key players in games and this has been fantastic to watch and help them develop to this level.
SK.com: With strong competition awaiting in Division 1 how do you think your current squad will fair against the more established top-flight teams in 2015/16?
Naturally we had our concerns about how the club would do if promoted to the higher division. However, the teams we are playing in the play-offs from the higher division have by no means lost all their games in division 1 this season. The fact that we are not only able to give these teams a good match but, in fact, beat them gives us the confidence that we will be able to put up a good fight in the top tier of Scottish Korfball.
SK.com:What affect will promotion have on the club? (on and off court)
As we’ve played tougher matches in the play-offs we have seen all members of our squad from relative beginners to the more experienced players really upping their game. People have been more committed at training and taking their skill in matches to a new level. This is something we can only see continuing. It also gives the club the possibility of entering a second string into the league for next season.
SK.com: At the start of the season Storm struggled with the availability of female players in league and tournament games, has the situation improved and might this be an issue next season?
Yes, this has definitely improved. We now regularly take a squad of 12 (6 boys and 6 girls) to matches and have had to start selecting girls rather than taking whoever is available. Furthermore, we have had several new and enthusiastic female players join us since the start of 2015 and they are definitely keen to start getting involved in matches now they have establishd the basics.
SK.com: The turnaround from your tournament Storm in a Teacup to the start of the 2015/16 is only a mere two months, what are your sides plans for the summer and will you be ready next year?
We’re planning on taking a well-deserved rest from formal training for a few weeks after Storm in a Teacup! We think it’s important for players to have a chance to relax and take a break after the season has finished so that everyone can recharge their batteries ready to hit the ground running when we start pre-season training. But don’t worry; we know some of our members would fall apart without their weekly session of Storm so we are planning more informal, fun, outdoor sessions playing a mixture of korfball and other sports.
SK.com: With the reintroduction of Giannis Sarrigiannis next term are you expecting him and Kyle to be leading the Storm side to safety next term?
If you had asked me that question a year ago then the answer would have almost certainly been ‘yes’, however a lot of things have changed in the last year. The squad has got resoundingly stronger and we have several key players. Helena Guest has lead the team by example and making her Scotland debut this year has shown that we have international quality across both genders. Unfortunately Naomi Maynard Is leaving the squad in the summer for pastures new but a special mention has to go to her outstanding performances this season. The rest of the team is quickly learning and stepping their game up so who knows what this will bring- not to mention the coming signing of Ben Smith over the summer.
SK.com: With the SKA Cup coming up, are you expecting your side to be sending out some messages to the ‘bigger’ clubs at the tournament?
The SKA Cup will be the perfect opportunity to show the rest of Division 1 what’s coming their way next season! It will also give us a great chance to see what areas we need to focus on during our pre-season training in August and early September.
Northern Storm travel to Edinburgh over the weekend to partake in the SKA Cup, catch their progress on our Facebook and Twitter pages!