Wallball Star Timbo Gonzalez Tries Eton Fives

Paul Bowden reports:

17/03/17: On 11th and 12th March the EFA hosted a visit from the top handball player in the world, Red Bull athlete Timbo Gonzalez. He comes from the Bronx and has been the number one player in the world for six of the last seven years. He started playing at the age of eight and by his early teens he was accepting challenges for money on the many courts in New York City where the game enjoys a huge following.

The purpose of his visit was to learn Eton Fives, a game similar to but also very different from his own game of Handball, which we in England now call Wallball.

At home not only is he a famous athlete but he does a lot of work to foster young talent enabling young people to make the best of their lives.

He came with his trainer and friend Safe Stadick and for both of them it was a first visit to England. On the Saturday he warmed up on the Westway outdoor Wallball court where he showed off his amazing coordination, athleticism and ball control being equally good with both hands. He then proceeded to the Fives courts for his introduction to the game. He was in the safe hands of Ed Hewens and Ian Mitchell who gave an excellent and fun first lesson. Timbo, who played without gloves and was able to hit both powerfully and with subtlety, was quick to appreciate the nuances of the game and to make use of the many angles which were of course unfamiliar to him.

Both Timbo and Safe left the court with a wide grin and had clearly enjoyed their first experience of the game.

On the following day Timbo and Safe went to Eton where they continued their Fives education with Eton coach Mike Hughes and Sam Welti before paying a visit to the original court on the steps of Eton College Chapel which really impressed them. After watching the semi-finals of the Kinnaird Cup, the top Eton Fives Championship, they ended their trip by playing with the current Ladies’ Champions, Charlotta Cooley and Karen Hird and two of the Semi Finalists in the Kinnaird Cup, Seb Cooley and Ed Taylor.

Timbo, who had studied videos of the game before coming to England, was enthralled by watching the top players and after going on court with them, expressed his thoughts in an interview with Ashley Lumbard:

‘I love it. It’s very challenging and it’s different.’

‘It’s a good rally game: I like that.’

‘How well you communicate with your partner plays a big role. You have to be a great team player.’

‘It’s crazy to see how well these guys (the top players) can handle a bad call or a let.

Here, everybody seems to have fun and make honest calls. That's great to see

‘I think a lot of people (in the USA) would try it’

We would love to see Timbo back in the UK soon, to showcase his Wallball skills and to hone his Fives technique, maybe even in next year’s Kinnaird Cup?

To find out more about Timbo Gonzalez CLICK HERE

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