Image courtesy of the Australian Quidditch Association
Written and edited by K. Grace.
It has been a big year for quidditch in Victoria, with a new team joining our ranks, some old faces switching sides, and some new ones giving us pause to stop and take notice. As the end of the year approaches so does the event we’re most excited for as The VQA steps up to the plate with the Monash Muggles to play host to the national championships, Quafl 2015, for the very first time right here in Melbourne. We speak to our teams to see where they’re at as they prepare for Quafl, some of which for the very first time.
Wrackspurts QC – L. McCoppin
The Wrackspurts have had quite the season, going from strength to strength and fighting relentlessly in a trying semi final. Will we be seeing a stronger side from you at Quafl this year, being that it’s in Melbourne, and what are your hopes for the team?
The Wrackspurts have improved dramatically since last Quafl, and will be fielding a full squad of 21 this year. Our team would expect no less but to make the final 12, finishing either 2nd or 3rd in pool play and would be looking to make it to the final 4. From there, with a squad of 21, who knows what could happen? Our strengths are definitely our longevity and able to make big hits and goal saving tackles again and again, however our depth of females across the board, although has improved markedly over the year, is still probably a step behind the best teams. Unlike last Quafl however, the Wrackspurts now have an A class seeker in N. Kemister, so those matches we lost last year in snitch range might now go our way.
You’ll be facing two as yet unknown forces in pool play, QUT, and Adelaide. What will you be planning for upon facing these teams, and how do the Wrackpurts fare against the unexpected?
Obviously the Wrackspurts will prepare and play against QUT and Adelaide how we do against every team; that is with respect and as hard as we can. Many of the Wrackspurts only know one gear, and that is giving 100% for every game. If any opposition take the Wrackspurts lightly this tournament, some big upsets could come about.
South Melbourne Centaurs – M. Braham
It is no doubt the Centaurs have improved tenfold from the team we saw debut in Easton Shield last year. You’ve beaten the Unicorns more than once and in tournament play even won against the Wrackspurts, quite the feat for the team. What are your expectations going into your first Quafl?
We’ve definitely improved since we started over a year ago but we still feel we’ve yet to prove ourselves even in Victoria, let alone Australia. Beating one of the Victorian Big 4 in the Wrackspurts during this years Melbourne MudBash was a highlight; but we found that the scrappy style of ground level play found at MudBash suited us a lot more. Given that Quafl will be played in Summer in a much drier, hotter climate there will be challenges that any of our team have not yet faced. We’ll be going in to Quafl with one of the smallest teams. We’ll be missing Turner to injury, Brookes and Dyall to the Perth Phoenixes, but we have known this for a long time and we’ve proven that playing tournaments with low numbers does not phase us. In terms of the tournament results, we’re hoping to get out of pool play as a minimum but will obviously be aiming to get as far as we can and challenge some of the top Australian teams.
You’ve played at Quafl before, assisting the Wrackspurts side last year, and also seen interstate competition at Sydney All Stars. What knowledge have you passed onto your team in order to be competitive at a national level?
Being lucky enough to have the ability to travel around Australia and play at some of the interstate tournaments has been fantastic for my knowledge of quidditch and how it is played differently around the country. Quafl 2014 was very interesting; not only was I able to learn about players from interstate but I was able to play with a different team and learn from them. I think what I’ve really taken back to my team is how useful communication and teamwork is. Watching the best teams play they are always loud on pitch, everyone knows their role and what they should be doing to give their team success on the pitch. I’ve tried to bring this to the Centaurs and I’m hoping it will help give us the edge over some of the other teams at Quafl.
Monash Muggles – N. Morton
The Muggles have had quite the drop this season, going from winning Vic Cup and MudBash last year to finishing fourth on the Vic Cup 2015 ladder. Losing a few key players and having to train up new recruits must’ve been quite the adjustment. What are you expecting from your team going into Quafl?
Losing players is never easy, but as a university team we do expect it. Our new team members have made huge strides though and the Victoria Cup was a big part of that. A lack of experience has hurt us in some games during Victoria Cup, but we’ve worked on our weaknesses and we’re more able to hold out nerve. Our effort at Melbourne MudBash this year probably showed some our best form and I am expecting more like that at Quafl. We have a lot of scoring options and have trained together for much of the year so there’s nothing stopping us from making a run deep into the finals.
Being a Team Australia veteran and recently playing on the winning side at Sydney All Stars fantasy, what have you taken away from these experiences that you’ll use to improve the Muggles’ chances at Quafl?
Playing for Team Australia last time was a fantastic experience and one I learned a lot from, especially as it was still my first year of playing. Using the space of the field and tackling players much bigger than I am took a lot of adjustment, as well as playing as a pure chaser and not as a ball carrier which I had done a lot of for the Muggles. Fantasy tournaments are a bit harder to learn from, but playing with so many people I had never met before meant that communication was big part of the weekend for me, and a big reason why we did so well I think.
Blackburn Basilisks – T. Rawson
The Basilisks have had quite the interesting season, with several new additions, surviving each week with a minimal amount of players and still fighting through to the grand final. What do you think you’ve learned as a team this season, and how do you plan to carry that through to Quafl?
I think the main thing we’ve learned as a team has come from what we’ve learned as individuals. As you said, we had many games where we had only 1 or 2 subs (and actually clocked up some wins with those smaller sides), and the line up changed almost every game. We had games where we had no Keepers or Beaters and had to slot people into positions they weren’t comfortable with. I think that’s been incredibly beneficial for players confidence and for the team – players are learning they’re capable of more than they expected and are pushing their boundaries. It also gives the team more diversity and allows us to still send up a capable side if people are away or injured. Adding onto that we had a few people enter temporary retirement this year due to work commitments and injury, and 7 new players join us, we’ve really had a big shuffle around. It’s been an adjustment for sure, having everything shaken up, but I’ve really seen some of my players come into their own, and I’m so proud of them. I have no idea what to expect come Quafl, we have ANOTHER 2 new players starting with us, and have 3 of our key players away, so I think we’re just going to bring our ability to adapt and thrive under impossible conditions and do our best, the Basi-way!
In pool play the Basilisks will be facing teams they’ve played before, with the only new team being USC. What are you expecting from the Queensland offering, and overall, who would you like to play against that you’ve yet to face before?
I haven’t heard much about USC, except from what my housemate and VQA President has told me about what she’s seen. I think they’re coming down underrated – which is a huge benefit for them. I think they’re going to come at their first game all guns firing and nobody is going to expect what they have to offer.I’m super excited to see Adelaide play, and it would be so awesome to play them. Once again, nobody knows anything about them. I’m good friends with one of their players who helped get the team going, and she spent 6 months playing for Canada just after Global Games. I think she has some tricks up her sleeve that she brought back to Adelaide, and I think we’ll see a much more American style entering the field with them. I’d also love to play the new Wrackspurts line up, but there’s plenty of time for that next year! I think they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Melbourne Unicorns – E. Humphrey
The Unicorns will be going into their first Quafl with an undermanned side. What are your expectations for the team?
Firstly, everyone knows the best things come in small packages. Secondly, We feel confident about the direction this team of young players is undertaking, and we are happy with the progress that our new players are making. We see being a smaller team as a benefit because it means we can work more cohesively as a unit and play off each others strengths. Obviously with less players we are at a disadvantage in terms of sub lines, but there is nothing we can do in that respect except ‘just keep swimming’. All of us are here to play quidditch and have fun which is the most important thing.
Your team has the slight advantage of having 2 players who’ve previously played a Quafl, albeit with another team. Will we be seeing them at Quafl this year, and do you have anything different planned from the Unicorns usual playing style in lieu of the absence of your regulars?
Our first plan is to go in with brooms blazing! Our other plans are more classified. Having fewer experienced Quafl players means that we are open to trying out many new ideas which we are keen to put into practice. With new direction and players taking on more leadership roles this year, we like to think we’re working stronger than ever as a team, and working hard to utilize every player to their maximum potential.
La Trobe Trolls – R. Atkinson
La Trobe have become quite the team since their debut this year, learning to play together and becoming quite the formidable side. What are your hopes and expectations for the team going into your first Quafl?
Honestly our main aim at QUAFL is to survive the weekend and have a good time. We hope to win a game or two; obviously it’d be fantastic to win more games but looking at our pool we’re also trying to keep our expectations somewhat realistic. So yeah, main hope is to win a couple of games and have a fun time! And meet interstate players, of course!
La Trolls experienced their first tournament at Melbourne MudBash earlier this year. What did you take away from that experience, and has that impacted how you’ve played since and how you’ll play at Quafl?
The Trolls MudBash Crew by far and away had a massive benefit from playing in the tournament, we learnt so much about what we as a team are capable of, what we as people are capable of, and most importantly what we as friends are capable of. We’re hoping that using the endurance we built up at Mudbash (and throughout the rest of the year, of course), we’ll be able to handle Quafl and everything that comes with it!
Melbourne Manticores – J. Williams
The Manticores have had a stellar season, coming off a win at Quafl 2014 and going undefeated through Vic Cup 2015 to have a runaway victory in the grand final. Will the Manticores be relying on their strength of a side we’ve seen this year, or will there be any surprises in store for Quafl?
There won’t be any nasty surprises at Quafl from us; we’ve kept pretty much the same roster year round and we’ll be going into the national tournament with minimal changes to that list. There will be one new addition to the roster however, so it’ll be interesting to see how this newbie goes and if they’ll work with the rest of the team.
You’ve competed at the August Triwizard tournament in NSW, and more recently at Sydney All Stars Fantasy Tournament. What have you learned playing with (and against) players from interstate, and how will you use this to the Manticores’ advantage come Quafl?
The Manticores play best when we concentrate on our own game, so I think we’ll go into the tournament trying to finetune and perfect our cohesiveness and teamwork. We tend not to get caught up on how to combat other teams’ playing styles and focus more on our own game and how we can do better, which we then make minor adaptations to depending on how things are going in each game.
Quafl 2015 will be played 5-6 December at Monash University Clayton, with nineteen teams from five states (and one territory).