Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Get to Know Canada's World Cup Coaches

by Aldo Ventresca

On Dec. 2, Quidditch Canada announced the members of its new coaching staff who will represent Team Canada at the upcoming IQA Quidditch World Cup in 2016. The selection reflects the diversity and complexity of Canadian quidditch as well as the challenges that come with organizing a team in one of the largest geographical regions in the world. The members of the coaching staff hail from the western and central areas of Canada as well as the Maritimes.

The new coaching staff is: Head Coach Chris Radojewski (Alberta Clippers Quidditch, Edmonton, Alberta) and Assistant Coaches Matt Bourassa (Carleton University Quidditch, Ottawa, Ontario) and Paul Gour (Dalhousie Tigers Quidditch, Halifax, Nova Scotia).
Radojewski brings plenty of experience to his new role, having coached for over five years on multiple teams in both the Western and Eastern divisions. His most notable achievement, however, was captaining Canada at the Global Games. Despite the challenges that this new role will bring, the overall message has been a play-to-win mentality when the time comes to face up against stronger opposition like the Americans. Canada is looking to win, and will settle for nothing less. 

“I believe every single team going to World Cup should aim for being the best team at the tournament and whoever is will come first. If it’s Canada, we beat the U.S. and everyone else,” Gour said.

Experience is also something Matt Bourassa has in abundance. Without question, his abilities as a leader have been proven time and time again.

“I felt like after being on the 2014 Team Canada as well as the Ottawa Black Bears this past summer, I am now in a position to contribute to building and developing the 2016 Team Canada,” Bourassa said. “I believe that I can contribute to this development with my international quidditch experience these past few years in helping develop [the] players’ skills and team strategies.”

No matter the sport, a leader is a leader and for Gour, his experiences outside of the sport are easily applicable to quidditch.

“[I have] worked extensively in coaching competitive swimming... before being involved in quidditch,” Gour said. “There are some very tangible assets, in terms of five years of experience, that I can bring to the team.” 

“Quidditch is getting smarter, but it is getting fitter too; we need to take the best and brightest, not just the folks who have great understanding of gameplay,” Gour said.

In terms of narrowing the talent pool to the final roster, there has been a shift in the power dynamic of Canada’s eastern clubs this season; all of the teams from Queb├ęc plus the University of Ottawa GeeGees and the Waterloo Ridgebacks have been nothing but outstanding. This does not necessarily mean that their stars will want to represent the national team, but if anything, the amount of up-and-coming talent will be sure to give Canada’s coaching staff plenty of options.

Radojewski certainly has his hands full when it comes time to select the final roster but he will be drawing from his previous experiences – along with the experiences of the assistant coaches – to ensure that Canada fields the best team possible. Bourassa and Gour’s knowledge of the eastern teams will prove invaluable when it comes to providing insight on who will represent Canada in the best fashion. The assistant coaches’ roles will encompass scouting and the organization of tryouts. The tactics that will be utilized in 2016 will reflect this diversity; it will be an amalgamation of various strategies in use across Canada.

“I believe the strategy should reflect the team that’s selected so we’ll see how tryouts go before committing to anything specific,” Bourassa said. 

For Radojewski, his experience at the Global Games has allowed him to prepare for his role; the focus will be on choosing the best 21 players with chemistry secondary because no matter the time to prepare, everyone will need time adapting to new systems. The best players, after all, are capable of playing with anyone.

Evidently, these three are highly committed to ensuring Canada reaches the heights that they know it can, and they bring the experience to the table to back it up. However, it will not be smooth sailing. Radojewski, Bourassa, and Gour have a difficult task ahead of them.

Gour has astutely analyzed the challenge that awaits them: “If you think of a game like writing a poem, the head coach is the brain, the assistant coaches are the nerves and the players are the muscles,” Gour said. “All the parts need to be working right and are equally as important to making the team function properly. Canada needs to be ready to push harder than ever before and I know we can do that.

Austin Wallace contributed to reporting

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