Together with Marius Hermanns and Sven Holland-Moritz (RSC Schiefbahn), the Austrian national cyclo-ball players Patrick Schnetzer and Stefan Feurstein (RV Dornbirn) visited several days to the United Kingdom at the end of April.
In a bus sponsored by the BDR, they went over several stages first to Bath in the southwest of England, where the four athletes met Felix Young, the local pioneer in the field of bicycle polo. He is the one who largely finances the halls and training equipment and tries to promote the sport in the country.
And that’s not so easy: at the moment, the athletes in Bath don’t have a permanent hall. As a result, Felix has obtained improvised plastic goals and boards that can be dismantled after each training session and which, like all the equipment of the British Cycling Team, he stores in his private garage and has to transport to each training session.
Under the guidance of Schnetzer, Feurstein, Hermanns, and Holland-Moritz, young athletes trained for several days to play bicycle ball. The Austrian-German delegation was particularly pleased to see the progress of their protégés so clearly: From the holding of the first unofficial British cycle ball championship to the first shot of a British cycle ball player over the goal (at the beginning of the training measure, the athletes had only been able to play the ball 30 or 40 centimeters high). On day 3 of their stay, the group traveled to Southampton. Here, the athletes met Andy from Monty’s Bike Hub, a social organization that supports disadvantaged children in Southampton. Training together generated a lot of enthusiasm on both sides. Later, the athletes completed another performance in the city center, where again a lot of interested people joined the training. Furthermore, a video shooting with the team of the Global Cycling Network was scheduled during the stay on the island, which resulted in a Youtube video that was clicked more than 70,000 times within a few weeks
In conclusion, from the delegation’s point of view, the project in the United Kingdom is very sustainable and therefore an asset for the entire sport of cycling. However, the British Cycling Federation seems to be more of an obstacle than support – because according to Felix’s information, they only want to send athletes to major events who have medal chances there. The athletes from Austria and Germany find this attitude regrettable, because of course competition experience would be important, especially given the British home event Glasgow 2023.
At the end of their trip, the athletes left the four bikes they had brought with them in England to enable more children to take part in training sessions. Felix also plans to attend the International Indoor Cycling Camp in Frankfurt in August with some of his athletes. This might also be the chance to bring more bikes or materials to the team.