The Portuguese Croquet Federation organised the Portugal Open IV Croquet Championship
Monday, May 27, 2019.

The Portuguese Croquet Federation organised  the Portugal Open IV Croquet Championship an international Golf Croquet tournament in the Algarve at the Bela Romão Croquet Country Club hosted in  the presence of several players who have moved from various points of the World to the fourth edition of the Portugal Open.

Lita Gale, President of the Portuguese Croquet Federation,   is very pleased to announce  that the tournament could not have gone better. “It was fantastic”

More than ten nationalities were present in the tournament with some nationalities repeating their presence as is the case of Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden and Portugal among others and late interest from Ireland  and South Africa who want to be present for  the 2019 Championship.

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Live through Facebook, several people watched from France, United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Latvia, South Africa and Portugal among other nationalities around the world the Semi-finals and Finals. Almost  60 people were able to watch the final held on September 9 in Moncarrapacho, overlooking the sea and mountains  at the  Courts of Bela Romao and the Croquet Murals painted by Adriana Aguiar, who was unable to represent  Portugal on this occasion as she was away in Greece.

The tournament was attended by thirty-two players in the Pairs  and twenty-two players in the Singles. The champions of Portugal, England, Germany, Europe, Sweden, Norway and Finland also participated in this tournament, as well as our 2017 champion, Roar Michalsen, from Norway, who marked his presence to defend his title after a period of during which he had a prolonged illness.

“We were not sure he would come, and we were only informed of his presence two days before the tournament started, but he came with great physical effort and just as much affection for Portugal to defend his title”.

Also, to come but could not make at the last minute was the lovely Sylvia Short from South Africa and the much-loved Wolfgang Usbeck did his best to fil the event for posterity and we all look forward to his film.

The Portuguese Open started on Wednesday with the hoisting of the Portuguese and European Union Flag and the Pirate Flag which stayed there until there was a new Champion of Portugal. The Competition started with the Pairs and finish on Sunday with the final of the Singles Championship.

Portugal came in 3rd place in pairs with Sarah Byrne and Doosan Turcer who battled   Glynis Davis and from England and Lars Boaman from Finland after beating the Portuguese duo of Margot Engstrom and Marlyss Weissenberg in the quarterfinals.

The Pairs final was defended by Lionel Tibble and Jayne Stephens representing England and Lasse Holmberg and Viggo Olsen for Norway, leaving the British as the Champions of the Pairs Croquet Open of Portugal IV 2018.

Dusan Tercer, from Slovakia representing Portugal and Sarah Byrne from the USA also representing Portugal, are some of the most experienced Portuguese names of the sport that participated in this event that recorded another golden chapter in the history of Croquet Portugal attaining 8th and 11th place respectively in the Singles Championship.

With regard to the fact that these players who represent Portugal, have other nationalities,  the regulations of the Portuguese Croquet Federation and the regulations of the World Croquet Federation permit this and  whilst for the World Regulations, it is enough that the player is resident in Portugal for a year to be able to wear the national colours and represent Portugal,  for the Portuguese Federation of Croquet there is a requirement of a minimum of five years of permanent residency in Portugal. “We want players representing Portugal to have an effective relationship and connection with the National Community. The same goes for obtaining Portuguese nationality “says the British Solicitor who presides over the destiny of the Portuguese National Federation.

In order to improve the number of players and standards of the players and national clubs. The Federation itself has invested in teaching the sport locally and nationally. “Before the tournament, our players trained daily between 7 and 11 in the morning so that they could be in good shape for the tournament” – says the President of the Portuguese Croquet Federation.

If at the beginning there was a shortage of players and heavy reliance on the foreign national’s resident in Portugal, today the panorama has changed. “Now we have to select the players that will best represent Portugal and we also had a waiting list of twelve players including Portuguese national players of which there are more and more. At the same time, we also separated couples and usual partners players in the sense of mixing the players so that they have different and enhancing experiences to better their game and strategies of the game and to best represent Portugal”.

For the first time, the Federation had to resort to the selection process and had a vast waiting list for players who wanted to participate but who did not, as happened with Lita Gale herself for the singles tournament. Lita said humbly “there are better players then me and we are playing for Portugal and only the best will do!”

“We took some scalps and major wins” such as the case of, Margot, Swedish by birth, representing Portugal and who will also play for Portugal in Cairo in the Over 50s championship in October 2018 and who won against the Champion of Portugal 2018 Lionel Tibble to much cheer from everyone.

And who can not forget the lovely duo of Stephanie Shreeve and Diane Choudhury- Walsh who against all odds won several games and delighted everyone as did Diane Gomes and Allain Biagi and Geoffrey Gomes and Filipe Ferreira and Virginia who played with Wolfgang for Portugal in the pairs.

The least positive mark of the 2018 event was the obvious absence of Spanish players who have crowded the last few years event with players. No doubt this was because of the dispute with the Spanish Federation in 2017, when from 27 Countries voted in favour of Portugal and only Spain voted against Portugal.

Croquet also has the handicap system as it happens in golf. “The more games we play the more the position of the player rises or falls in the ranking. In Portugal, however, the handicap system is seldom applied since most of the players started in the Croquet games within the same period. We are not very used to the Handicap since we have installed a system of camaraderie in which the more developed players share their score with less experienced players,”.

There is however much to be learned and enjoyed in a handicap  game as different strategies can be used  and the Portuguese Croquet Federation will be promoting more handicap competitions  so that its players can compete in the world stage,  whilst at Bela Romao the practice of giving advantage to the inexperienced player and children will continue to thrive and maybe we will be also using “bisques”!.

Croquet is also now being played by children and teenagers in Portugal as is the case of the players children grandchildren and no more obvious then, Trevor´s adorable triplets who regularly attend at the club to play and this play is being encouraged and promoted by the Portuguese Federation who is investing in national and young players so that Portugal can affirm itself in the world’s elite Croquet in the future.

From the players, the comments could not have been more positive, describing Bela Romão as the most beautiful and elegant place in the world for the practice of the sport refereeing not only to the quality of the facilities or for the proximity of the Algarve beach and local restaurants and historic villages and the good weather of the Algarve in Portugal and how friendly everyone is.

Players and guests and family also took part in the red-carpet Gala Dinner with dress code and much fun and laughter and dancing in a stunning location and international setting all catered for by Sarah Byrne in between playing and with the help of Randa who served us with lovely home-made Lebanese specialities whilst we all delighted in the Last Night of the Proms celebrations.

This year we were able to secure the sponsorship of the Local Caixa Agricola Bank who donated to us the Large Trophy which was proudly won by the Portuguese 2018 Croquet Champion, Mr Lionel Tibble. Other than that sponsorship is hard to come by and the players work together and fund their own equipment and attire  and we can not go with out saying thank you to Virgina Abreu for yet again making hats for everyone and for the others who worked late to  put together our Polos and colours and for Dianne Choudhury-Walsh for making so many Hoop Counting beads  and Mr and Mrs Viney and M and Mrs Gomes support and help.

We can not also fail to mention the great help from the German players Wolfgang Usbeck , Ray and Kevin Ferguson and Dieter and Marlene Rensch, who helped us to mark the courts in a true team work effort so that the courts and the hoop settings complied with the rules of the World Croquet Federation and besides  Marlene´s lovely attire and smiles the German team also managed to charm everyone at the Gala Dinner by singing a song dedicated to Bela, the lovely Mascot Dog of the  Club  and the Portuguese Croquet Federation.

We were all so very happy to see that the Norway players could join us again and specially Roar Michalsen, whom, despite his serious ill health came, accompanied by his lovely wife, Line Michalsen, who kept the scores on Croquet Score and for which we are all extremely grateful. Unlike last year when we told by the Spanish Players that the Competition results would not count for world ranking, the 2018 results can already be seen on Croquet Scores.

We now look forward to a future with competitions every month and more association being played not just be the Swedish born players and the presence of Portuguese players in the world stage in the forthcoming Competitions after continued practice on our 3 lawns.

We are already looking forward to playing in Egypt, England in Dulwich and Ripon Spa and in Norway and Germany and to the repeat International Canadian Challenge between Portugal and Germany and Canada and the SWEA Ladies Tournament coming up shortly.

To finalise,  the 2018 Portuguese IV Open 2018, was won by the lovely Lionel Tibble for England, from the Northampton Croquet Club  who beat the great player and entertainer  and much loved,  Guy Scurfield for England and who plays for Dulwich  who fought hard to the last ball and both gave  us all a great final and spectacle to watch and enjoy  and to whom we say thank you and to all that participated and came all the way to our Country and who are all now part of our Portuguese and world croquet family and whom we salute.


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