Navigating to Norway: Team UK

by Sarah-Louise Lewis

On July 8-9 2017, 15 national teams from all over Europe will compete in Oslo, Norway for the title of European Champion. The next article in our European Games 2017 series is on Team UK.

Roster

Ash Cooper
Lucy Edlund
Abbi Harris
Thomas Heynes
Andrew Hull
Callum Lake
Bex Lowe
Ben Malpass
Jan Mikolajczak
Jess O’Neill
Bill Orridge (Captain)
Lucy Q
Ollie Riley
Jacopo Sartori
Tom Stevens
James Thanangadan
Jemma Thripp
Luke Twist
Aaron Veale
Seb Waters
Jackie Woodburn

Interview with Head Coach Emily Oughtibridge

Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?

Oughtibridge: Hard work. We have lots of Skype meetings and we rely on a lot of individual motivation. We’re building on nearly two years of training sessions, player experience of two or three tournaments, and many years of combined quidditch knowledge. We couldn’t do it without the clubs that host our training sessions and the players who travel all over the country for a chance to play.

QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?

Oughtibridge: Respect the opposition with our best, give a good account of UK quidditch both on and off pitch, and leave the tournament with the same European ranking as we left World Cup.

Team UK celebrate their victory against Canada in the third place play off at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Oughtibridge: There are so many interesting teams from a coaching perspective teams with new or different tactics, teams with old rivalries. From the teams not in our group: Poland, as they have a couple of UKbased players; the German teams were impressive at European Quidditch Cup, so they would be a good match; and I really enjoyed the match against Austria at World Cup, so I would like to have a round two there.

QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Oughtibridge: Everyone has had to balance quidditch with their busy lives; there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to organise our training sessions. Shout out to Tom Heynes for the tireless work he does. Picking the team was a challenge; we have the benefit of so many players wanting to work so hard for the shirt, but it does lead to that ultimate coaches’ headache. Personally, I’m fairly new to this head coaching thing and it’s a big hat to fill, Team World coach and all… I just hope my head isn’t too big for it.

QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players (or underrated players) we should watch out for?
Oughtibridge: I think our main strength is our standing squad. These players have been competing for their places every time they play. We said at World Cup, and it is still true, Team UK is not just 21 players. Our supporters, that’s another; they get right behind us, on the sideline and over various social media. I would hope that I don’t underrate any of my players, so I would watch out for all of them. I realise that is a bit of a cheat answer, so there are a number of players new to this kind of tournament who could be interesting to watch.

Jess O’Neill beating at Hateful 8 | Photo Credit: Rica Biasi (More Quidditch Photos)

QP: After placing third at the World Cup and second at the last European Games in 2015, how do you feel about the team coming into the 2017 European Games?
Oughtibridge: Past results don’t win the next game, but they do give us lessons to work from. We have a few hard lessons from World Cup, a certain motivation from that 2015 silver, but we won’t rely on history; we intend to write it.

Analysis

Following on from their success at the 2016 IQA World Cup, bronze medallists Team UK will be looking once again for a successful run at the European Games. From studying the roster and having seen the team members play at different tournaments across the past season, there is a strong chance that they could walk away with gold. The team has a large number of returning players and are a standing national team; therefore, great things can be expected from them, and their synergy will be key to them coming out on top at the end of games.

Captain Bill Orridge has previously vice-captained the team, meaning he is a solid choice to lead them using his knowledge and experience. It will be exciting to see what he does in gameplay with such a strong team. Their beater lineup is a force to be reckoned with, including the talented Lucy Q, who has dominated the beating game in every competition she has attended this season. We can expect games to be fastpaced with high energy and plenty of opportunity being provided for the chasers to score.

The chaser lineup is also incredibly powerful, and there is definitely going to be exhilarating quaffle play throughout the games. There is the addition of Warwick Quidditch Club player Ben Malpass to the lineup, who has been key this season, commanding the quaffle game and really working on the hoops to ensure that there are plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates. Keeper Andrew Hull has been strong this season and has a great deal of experience that he can bring to the team, which will really help them against tough opposition. Beater Jess O’Neill has had a great season with Velociraptors Quidditch Club,and we can expect her to bring her skills that were demonstrated at British Quidditch Cup to the team. However, as a whole, the team is going to be phenomenal, bringing different skills and qualities with them to allow for a wide range of play options.

Bill Orridge, now captain of TeamUK, beating at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

After just losing out on gold at the last European Games, Team UK will be heading into this one with the drive and determination to come out on top. The team may struggle with so many big names trying to dominate play on the pitch after being key in their own teams this season; however, they are all experienced and professional enough that they shouldn’t let this hinder them and still be successful. Provided they work hard and really push themselves as a team, then there are no doubts that they couldn’t succeed in their goal.