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 Catalonia.
Chema Hidalgo (Captain)
Interview with Head Coaches Pau Pérez and Angel Miguel Guerrero
Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?
Pérez: We’ve been training since January, actually, because we happen to be a small NGB. We’ve been able to train twice a month, and after European Quidditch Cup (EQC) once a week. Àngel and I worked on a long-term training plan, so we are bringing something closer to a regular team than a national team in the sense that we are not just a bunch of good players playing together; we have also developed good team–play amongst us.
QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Pérez: We expect to fight at least for the first and/or second place in the group phase. And we are confident in the roster we have this year to make it into the top five teams.
QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Pérez: We are obviously anxious to have our revenge against Spain because of our rivalry. But we are also excited to play against Germany because we think they will be the strongest team in Group B, and if we manage to beat them, we will prove what the Catalan national team is capable of.
QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Pérez: I think the biggest problem we had was with the lack of non-male players. However, we finally managed to get five of them and we are already used to playing with few non-males. We also had a couple of last minute chaser dropouts, but we still have a substantially good roster.
QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players (or underrated players) we should watch out for?
Pérez: As I said before, the best point in our national team is the great amount of training we’ve had together. Also, we have really good players. I’m sure keeper Chema Hidalgo will not fail us; he’s been a really valuable and versatile player in the [Barcelona] Eagles since their beginning. We also have great chasers such as Daniel Morales, the fastest and most agile boy I’ve ever met, and the tactical game of Fabiana Echeverria with all her experience playing in the USA. You will surely be amazed when you see Marc “Big Markus” Garganté as beater throwing bludgers at the speed of light, or Sílvia Fortuny, a who catches all the bludgers you throw her in the air. As for the seekers, we have a bunch of players who are good, but Adrián Medina will excel at touching lots of snitches’ butts. And we are so proud of our new incorporations from the UAB Ashwinders team: Marc Alcalá, André Govett, and Ferran Gascón. They are great players who started playing quidditch this season and they have all trained and improved a lot with the national team; they will surely give us all a huge surprise at EG.
QP: Quite a few of the Barcelona Eagles players who used to be on the national team retired after EQC 2017; how did this affect the team?
Pérez: They certainly did, but some of them, such as Alba Arrieta, will still be on the Catalan team for this year’s EG. We will surely miss some players, but the roster we will take to European Games is far from affected by this.
Heading into the European Games, Catalonia will be hopeful for a win and to prove that they are the best European team. They appear to have a strong starting team, yet a quite unbalanced roster. The Catalan team will rely on their players to gel together and work hard and fast to secure the wins they are after.
Alba Arrieta is going to be essential to the beating lineup at this tournament; she is very experienced and is accurate in her beats. Arrieta is also fast and holds a great amount of stamina, so she will be severely important for Catalonia’s defence. Another key player to their lineup will be Chema Hidalgo, who is taking on the role of captain for the tournament; he is an adaptable player who will fit into whichever position is required of him with great ease. He can beat, keep, and seek aggressively, and will be one of Catalonia’s hardest hitters. The team is lucky to have Fabiana Echeverria playing with them, as she holds a vast amount of tactical experience from playing in the US, which will help the team on the pitch as they drive and defend.
Catalonia have been training hard together to prepare for this tournament since January, where they had twice monthly training sessions, upping this to weekly after EQC. The coaches, Pérez and Guerrero, have been dedicated in their training of the team, which will benefit them as they enter the tournament. The team will be more familiar with one another’s play styles, more physically and mentally prepared, and also have more synergy. This experience with each other will allow for them to take the risks required and play hard to win. The downside that remains, however, is that they are only taking 18 players with them instead of the full 21 due to financial difficulties, and they are also lacking a huge number of non-male players. Therefore, if there are injuries they may suffer in meeting the gender rule or losing out on substitutions.
Catalonia will have to work hard if they are to come out with the results they want. They placed 12th at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup, and will be looking to come back hard and strong to prove they can be a top–tier team. They have the training and the drive to do well, and if they utilise every player to their full potential, then there is a strong chance that they will be successful in Oslo.