GOLD... IN PARIS!
On 15 May, Brussels Mannekenfish maintained its European leadership in inclusive water polo by reaching the first step of the podium at the International Paris Tournament. For the first time, the Brussels Mannekenfish Junior team was introduced on the international scene reaching an honorable 13th position. All the players celebrated the victory as one, united by a team spirit stronger than ever.
23 players in two teams
As new players joined the team in September 2015 and January 2016, 23 Mannekenfish joined the Tournoi International de Paris in May 2016. For the first time outside Belgium, Brussels would be represented with two teams at an international tournament. The more experienced players joined the Brussels Mannekenfish while the more recent ones formed Brussels Mannekenfish Junior. The team would play in two different leagues.
'sans faute' for the experienced players
After their victory in Paris in 2014 and in London in October 2015, the Brussels Mannekenfish were expected to run the show in Paris. The two first games against the Copenhagen Mermates (5-1) and the Raies Menteuses -Paris AquaHomo (5-0) confirmed the potential of the team. However, the game against the Moules Bites - Cercle de Natation de Paris (4-1) ended with a bitter-sweet taste with the injury of the Mannekenfish captain, Philippe de Wulf, resulting in his withdrawal for the rest of the tournament. Nevertheless, the team was eager to show that its spirit was still high and finished the first part of the competition with three additional victories against the Chatons - Paris Aquatique (6-0), the Mean Girls - London Orca (6-0) and the Brut - London Orca (6-1). With six victories, the Brussels Mannekenfish were one step away from the top of the podium.
A promising start for the junior team
For their first participation in an international tournament, the Mannekenfish Junior faced a great challenge. The battle was fierce against the Frog Princess of AquaHomo but not successful (1-2). The second game against Gay Swim Amsterdam resulted in a draw (2-2), with a mythic goal from the Mannekenfish Junior goalie. The ShootingCocks - London Orca surpassed the Juniors (0-11) and Active Company also claimed the victory (1-5). The Juniors found in Les Cadettes from Paris Aquatique a strong opponent but let the victory pass once more (0-1). The Mobydicks also mastered their game (0-11). Despite fierce battles, the Brussels Mannekenfish Junior unfortunately ended up the first part of the tournament without victories but the tournament was not other yet.
Succes in the finals
The Juniors were the first ones to play their final against the Mean Girls. Months of practice, high spirit and concentration resulted in the first victory of the team (5-0) securing the 13th position. But the ranking did not mattered to them. They showed throughout the tournament that they were able to play together and succeed, opening the way for future victories.
The tension was higher for the Mannekenfish who were to meet the Mobydicks from Paris Aquatique on their ground. The game ended up being physically demanding on both sides. The Mannekenfish took the lead and maintained it at high price during the first half. After the break, they managed to get ahead without the Mobydicks being able to catch up. After a fierce battle, they reached the gold medal (8-6) for the second time in a row at a European inclusive water polo tournament.