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Faerieland's Clipped Wings


by rookina

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ALTADOR CUP - Delma’s Clipped Wings

You’ve been training for this for almost a whole year. It’s the biggest event on the Yooyuball calendar. Your team is fit and ready. You arrive at the Colosseum to a rapturous reception from thousands of fans.

And then you get well and truly slapped back down to earth, routed by a massive margin by the tournament favourites; your defences smashed through by Mystery Island’s juggernaut of a forward Volgoth; your feathers ruffled and your wings well and truly clipped.

What do you do after such a crushing defeat?

Well, if you’re Faerieland’s plucky Yooyuball team, you get back up, limp back to the clouds, and start practicing for next year’s season.

We caught up with the team’s somewhat bruised and battered defender, Delma Harrence.

“It was tough,” she sighs. “Sure, we knew Volgoth was going to be difficult to defend, but that was way beyond anything we’d expected.” Something of an understatement from the diminutive Zafara. Faerieland’s regular supporters will probably admit they’ve never seen Harrence look so worn out or tired – quite a change from the bouncy and lively teenager who burst onto the Yooyuball scene a few years ago.

By now, everyone probably knows the story of Harrence’s rise to the top. Ten years ago, young Delma was playing Yooyuball in the park with her friends when a Draik stopped to watch them. When they finished he approached them and gave Delma his card, explaining that he was a talent scout for the Faerieland junior team. One week later, Delma had joined the team at their training camp and was preparing to play in her first professional game.

“It was very strange,” she laughs. “One minute I was playing in a park using a foam Yooyu, the next minute I was surrounded by experts, feeling very inadequate, playing in front of a thousand people, and trying not to look afraid of catching the fire Yooyu. I’d never even seen one up close before that first game!”

A fact which makes her first performance even more impressive. Starting as Left Forward, Harrence gained two assists before the coach decided to try her in defence at half time.

“Bless the coach!” Delma exclaims on being reminded of that. “He always insisted we should try out every position before settling into one place, and I’m still thankful that he did. I’m not sure I could have been as successful as a forward as I am in defence. I remember that match so well – I stopped half a dozen attacks on our goal after half-time, and felt right at home.”

But the versatility she gained at a junior level paid off, as Harrence is now happy to play in any position if needed. Bearing this in mind, and facing the might of Volgoth in the first round of the Cup, one might be forgiven for thinking it may have been more sensible for Faerieland to switch to a 2-2-1 formation from their usual 3-1-1, but Delma says although they considered it, it was never a real possibility.

“We just don’t have the people to do it,” she admits, shrugging her shoulder, then wincing as she catches a sore spot. “I mean, aside from [Goalkeeper] Valtonous [Rea], I’m the biggest person on the team. The forwards are all capable of playing defence, but to be honest we thought they were better off staying forward and taking advantage of any mistakes the Islanders made, while me and Valto tried to slow them down and steal the ball.

“Actually,” she continues shaking her head, “I didn’t take nearly as much punishment as Valto. The poor guy had to put up with Volgoth being in his face pretty much every minute of the game. I think he got pretty frustrated after a while – when you’re trying to defend against someone the size of that Mynci, it’s difficult to see around them to find out what’s going on with the rest of the team. I think Valto spent most of the game unsighted, and he was really down when we got off the field.”

There had been rumours of a few injuries in the team, but Delma refused to use that as an excuse. “Well yes, there were a few injuries – mostly from Volgoth running towards us and not being able to stop in time to avoid hitting us! Then there are all the usual ones – burned knuckles from holding the fire Yooyu too long, scraped elbows and knees, and the occasional bruise. But nothing that meant we couldn’t keep playing. We just weren’t good enough on this occasion, and I think we got unlucky being drawn against the favourites in the first round.”

With the second round now in full swing, who does Delma think will go on to win?

“I’ll let you in on a secret – when I was younger, I was a big fan of Krawk Island. In fact, I almost signed for them a couple of years back, and I’d love to see them finally win something big! I think they’ve got a lot of fans in this tournament because they never give up and they’re real characters. Then of course, there’s Mystery Island…” she trails off, rubbing her shoulder again. “Anyone who can take down Volgoth deserves to win!”

So until next season, what do Delma and her teammates have planned? “First and most important, we’re taking a week off,” she replies immediately. “We’ve got quite a few aches and pains between us - Kakoni [Worrill - Centre Forward] took a fire Yooyu in the face, Palia [Alback - Right Forward] sprained a wrist when she tripped trying to dodge a defender, Babolino [Left Forward] hit his head on the edge of the goalpost when he trod on the Yooyu and slipped, and Valto’s just plain worn out. We want to get all that sorted out before we do anything else. We’ll probably watch back our own performance in the Cup to see what we can improve on, and then it’ll be back to practicing ready for next season.”

Their wings may have been clipped, the team may have a few bumps and bruises, and their Altador Cup dream may be over for this year, but make no mistake – Delma and the Faerieland team will be back stronger than ever next year.

 
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