Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Selection challenges for national teams

I haven’t been writing anything for quite a long time, but recently after several conversation with different people I noticed a theme which I would like to disclose. And that is the problems of selection to the national team.

The only countries which do not have such a problem are those who can hardly get 8 fighters to the team, as they just take everyone “who can hold a sword”. All other national teams every year face the same problem - how to choose the best fighters for the team and make the selection really fair.

“Old teams”.
For “old teams” I consider only the first four countries which participated in BoN 2010 and which keep showing the best results at least in some nominations. They are Russian, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland.

I really don’t know much about Belarus selection process, but all the others face approximately the same problems in my opinion. And that is how how to choose the best fighters as they are very numerous and often they cannot objectively get to the same events to show competence in time progression. It is hard to judge about who is better if to consider the results of only one event. Fight is always at least partially unpredictable so once even an average team can defeat the champion team and this “once” can happen at the main selection. It is something we saw in Russian team at the selection to the BoN 2012 when “Furious five” appeared on “5 vs 5” arena. They got the second place at the final selection but they were not allowed to take Russia 2 name and only a few of them got to Russia 3. That was a pity for them but that was fair, as they were not known enough to get such an honor to complete the full team. This year they took the second place again and now no problems appeared - they have proven for the second time that they are among the best and they became Russia 2.

That is also the answer on the question “Why there is no fresh blood in the team?”. It is quite risky to take the fighter at once if showed himself well at the event. It is better to check his skills and his dedication at numerous events for about a year, then it would absolutely obvious if he needs to be  taken to the team. That’s my opinion.

Poland and Russia have quite well developed selection process consisting of many tournaments, regional, national etc. (don’t know how they are called). That is a good practice and it requires very serious organizational team which will take care of everything for the events to happen.

This year some teams tried to introduce the “requirements to physical condition for the fighters”. In fact it is very difficult as many fighters who are very experienced often cannot pass the physical condition test. Why is that so? The answer is easy - our sport is not yet professional enough. We do have already real “athletes” like Ukolov or Lapik or Waszkielis but generally many people are still doing it as their hobby. They have experience as advantage over youngsters and have their word in the team as of strong fighters. Personally I don’t really think that physical condition test is necessary at the selection process but the selection itself should be so hard that only the strongest can pass it, really the strongest and not those who caught some drive and won a few fights. Captain of “Furious Five” told me a thing which I completely agree with. He told that at the final selection to Russian national team there are a lot of teams in “5 vs 5” and + “21 vs 21” competition, and it is there where physical condition plays a great role. You need to fight all day, the competition is extremely hard, many additional fights and so on and so forth. You cannot have only experience. You must be really strong to handle the competition. So experience + physical condition wins. And the BoN event itself is the same - many fights all day, hard competition, hard moral pressure. You need to have experience but you also need to be physically well prepared. This year we saw many fights which were won by those who just have a better stamina and can strike hard a bit longer. Only hard long competition and training helps to build physical and psychological endurance. Small events where you have 5 fights a day won’t go for it.

And now the “new teams”. For these I mean all the other teams  (I hope I don’t offend anyone).
Communicating with many people in different countries I noticed that there is such a phenomenon which can be described by an easy formula “you go to the BoN not because you are cool, but you are cool because you go to the BoN”. What does that mean? The one who manages to make the team, he has the rule. It is not a bad fact, as often these are people who really want to make a difference, but it can lead to such a problem like if he has some opponents in views, they can hardly get to the team even if they are strong enough. It is a normal process of sharing sphere of “power” in sport (that always happens) and we just need to take this to account. It is the same as if the new federation of HMB appears, it can get in conflict with HMBIA just because they have the same “focus group” but different “views on life”.
Sport develops and politics appears. Politics can be good but politicians always strive to get power.

I would be grateful to learn if you have ideas about any other topics which need to be covered.