Pride and Prejudice - A Coaches View more

Statement from BAFA Chairman following GB Lions Championship win in France

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Having spent the last week over in Amiens with the GB Lions I would like to put my observations and thoughts on record.

Firstly what a magnificent achievement by a Team in the truest sense of the word! It was obvious that the Coaches, players and support staff were working towards a common goal and everything else was set aside to achieve this, it was a feeling of 'family' in every aspect, from practice, to game preparation, to game, to recovery, to practice and so on. It ran like a well drilled, well oiled machine.This was in spite of massive hurdles that had to be overcome, there were a lot of doubters and critics as to how the Team would fare in a European campaign, were the best players there, were the best coaches there? etc, etc.I have one thing to say to that;Would you like some water to go with that huge slice of humble pie to make it easier to swallow?

The Team were determined to prove the doubters wrong and it was used as a source of strength that they were able to draw upon, it made them all the more focused on the task in hand.It was also obvious that there was a strong feeling of support from many people back home and the Team were made aware of all the messages of support coming in by phone, text and on the forum and this was also a boost.Having said all that, Britball must be aware that this Team overcame some huge problems to win the tournament.

The squad was five players short of the allowed maximum 45, this number was reduced by injury to 37 for the game against France. The fact that we were able to dress 37 is a testament to the magnificent job done by Team Physio, Rebecca Cruikshank and her assistant Teresa. They worked as hard as anyone making sure that everything from hydration to assessment and treatment of injury was done to prepare the players for the three games in the space of six days! When everyone else was relaxing they were working with the injured players getting them ready for the next game.There were a number of players who played through pain (extreme pain in some cases) in all three games, they were that determined to do the job! In the deciding game against France, the tactics that some of the French players adopted, made our resolve even stronger. When QB Adam Long was taken out of the game, the heads didn't drop, the guys sucked it up and got on with business! There were players out on that field that were playing at a higher level than some of them ever imagined that they could, such was their desire and commitment!

This is a reflection the excellent job done by Head Coach Riq Ayub and his coaching staff, the long months of preparation paid off. The whole coaching staff spent endless hours every day studying game film of our opponents and our own performances in an effort to thoroughly prepare the team for each game. Their approach was as professional as if this had been a pro team! Practice and game time was organised to bring out the best in every player and maximise the time available. They brought out the best in the players in their unit and built a strong ethos of Team at every opportunity.

I have always been immensely proud whenever I have been associated with a GB International Team and nevermore so when it comes to singing the National Anthem and this was also the case here. As we lined up before that final game the Team sang loud and proud and the largely French crowd appreciated that with their applause when we finished. The French anthem was played and I could only hear one or two of their guys singing - This was reflected in the rather muted applause that followed - that was when I knew we had the advantage, we were a Team, they were a collection of highly talented individuals but they were not a Team!

In all that the Team did, they represented GB with pride and made an excellent impression on everyone that they met. Many of the French people that met and helped the Team actually wanted us to beat their own team such was the impact the guys made.

One job finished, a new one to begin. Next year as European Group B Champions the GB Lions must travel to Sweden to play against hosts Sweden, Finland and Germany. Not an easy task but with the right support I am confident that we can take this momentum forward and be assured that the same spirit will be present in the Team.

It was an honour and a privilege to be with the Team over the last week!

Gary Marshall