Number of active players: ~800
Notable beach tournaments: Belgian Beach Cup
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU2004, ECBU 2008, WCBU2011
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Open, Mixed, Women, Open Masters, Mixed Masters
Belgium has a rich tradition when it comes to ultimate. The sport goes back throughout the eighties when the Leuven team Jet Set, formerly known as Funkadelic Disc Band, hosted the 1988 World Championships. Belgium is a country still on the rise in the European ultimate scene, but has also been a steady contender for many years now. Especially known for it’s friendly and hospitable players and teams, the Belgian ultimate community is rapidly growing as the still-starting federations are doing great work promoting the sport.
The Belgian mixed team has always been a strong contender on the European scene. Having won a bronze medal at the 2011 EUC in Slovenia, the team is back (in another shape) and wanting more. Guided by leading lady and skillful handler Ine Lanckriet, the national squad for ECBU is a mix of four of Belgium’s most famous teams : Freezzz Beezzz, Gentle, Mooncatchers and Schijnwerpers. Due to work-related issues and a few injuries, the team lost five players on their roster during the season but has made up with some nice replacements. Six players are returning from the 2011 EUC squad, and the core of this team has known each other for a long time, bringing their experience and knowledge to the beach in Calafell. Team Belgium took 10th place at Paganello this year and most notably had a convincing victory over Great Britain in pool play. Being a relatively new team, they will have to find their chemistry on the field in Calafell but they are most certainly going for nothing but good games. Fun will be a highly appreciated factor for this team, but rest assured, they will give it their all. Be on the lookout for the accurate forearm throws by team veteran Wouter Vandamme, as well as outstanding targets Jane Van Coillie and Benoit Spapens and the speed of Janwit ‘Pon’ Changsura. Co-captain Guillaume Casanova, a French native and longtime Brussels player, will also get the disc moving around the field.
Unlike previous Belgian women’s teams, this selection is made up 100% from Brussels-based players. Coming from club teams XLR8RS and university teams UCL and ULB, these girls are an amazing mix of experience. Player/coach Frederique Daublain brings many years of experience to the field, as well as Finnish former European champion Heidi Pekkola, an exceptional handler who has been living in the capital of Europe for many years now. On the flipside, many young women have joined the team hoping to gain more experience at Europe’s highest beach ultimate level. The team has 3 returning players from the 2011 World Championships of Beach Ultimate in Lignano, but hasn’t been through an official tournament test yet. However, most of the players have been practicing together each Monday night, which will only lead to great connections on the field. When asked about ambitions, team coach Frederique said: “With our young but promising roster we are aiming for some good games. This team will definitely become more than the sum of its parts.” They’ve even got tire company Q-Team as an official team-sponsorship to show for it.
Belgium has not had a consistent Open program throughout its history. National Open teams came and went throughout the years, although some nice results were achieved, including a bronze medal at the previous ECBU in Nantes, France in 2008. The team heading to Spain in 2013 has a very young average age, but does count many years of experience amongst the ranks. 10 players on the roster come from the same club team Jet Set, which has been a main contender in Belgium for many years now and even hosted the World Championships back in 1988. With a few more additions from Slijpschijven and Freezzz Beezzz, the roster is set with 14 young guns looking to gain even more experience on the Spanish beaches. Expect a lot of hard running from this very ambitious team. A lot of these youngsters played EUC in Slovenia together and are now looking to keep this good Belgian vibe going by participating at ECBU. Expect some swift handling by Boris Kuijpers and Wannes Kestens, amongst others, and some great defensive plays by Joren Sanders and Robin Wouters. Team captain and longtime Belgian national team veteran Hans Reggers will amaze many spectators with his signature full-field forehand hucks. If there’s one team that will have a burning ambition this will be it. These guys are definitely looking forward to take on the Swiss in the livestreamed game from the Arena pitch on day 1 of the ECBU.
If there’s one thing we can say about this team, it is that they have experience. Yes, all masters usually do, but this is a team that has the credits and medals to show for it. Called a “golden generation” by some, this team is mostly built around club team Jet Set alumni and has years and years of experience playing with each other. The ladies have been rocking beaches at Paganello and Burla Beach Cup with the legendary OB team many times, and the core of this team also played in the mixed division at EUC 2006 in Southampton. Three of the male players were on the 2008 bronze medal winning Open team at ECBU in Nantes, France and will definitely be decisive on the field once again. Hans Geyens, more commonly known as Haggie, is the team coach/founder and will certainly make jaws drop with his visionary throws around the pitch. The team has had some practice games in the Netherlands and also went out for a team training weekend. They are looking forward to taking on powerhouses GB and Germany but know that the difference will have to be made on a conditional level. Hard to tell how this team will do in the warm conditions of Spain but they will definitely gel as a unit and hopefully grow throughout the tournament. Lead by team captains Peter Lemmens and Femke Wuille (who currently lives in Switzerland and playing for Lotus), this team will most definitely be having some great times on the beach.
Seeing that the roster of the mixed masters filled up quite fast, these guys decided to build their own open masters team. Captains Jeremy Le Maux and Francois Tsas, both from one of Belgium’s oldest clubs XLR8RS in Brussels, formed a team of mainly XL players with the addition of one Skywalkers and one Jet Set player. The team has been practicing together on a weekly basis, as almost all of them come from the same club team. Due to the lack of beaches in the city of Brussels, they have been playing 5 on 5 on a grass surface. Most of the men on this team participated at WUCC 2010 in Prague in the mixed division and do have a lot of experience. Only one has played for a Belgian national team before, but that won’t stop these masters from showing their skills on the beach.They might not be a ruling powerhouse, but they are looking forward to playing some good games. Most importantly, they are out to have some great times on the beach as they are actually a bunch of good friends just having fun. The team has played Yes But Nau as a preparational tournament and ended up around the middle of the ranking in the middle division, but have yet to see how they will perform on the masters level. Two huge receivers, both around 2 meters tall, will surely help this team put points on the scoreboard. Another interesting aspect is the fact that most of the players on this team already have the age to qualify for the Grandmasters division but deliberately chose to be on this team instead.They’ve also got the one and only Tom Vandepoel, designer of all Belgian jerseys for ECBU 2013, amongst their ranks, who made sure all Belgian teams will look fresh and ready to represent their country.
Article by Johan ‘Bommie’ Bommerez from www.GetHorizontal.com