For the Love of Yooyuball
The sun beat down from a clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight. Not a breath of air, either. It was the first game of the day and Delma was already sweating. She felt like she would melt into a puddle. She was thankful that games of Yooyuball only lasted three minutes.
Once the game was over, each team got fifteen minutes for a break and an hour for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most teams quite playing after dinner but some chose to have a game or three in the evening. Now though, Delma pushed the heat aside. She had a game to play. The faerie Zafara knew the strengths and weaknesses of every team in the Altador Cup, including Faerieland.
Beside Delma was her teammate Ciona. The faerie Kyrii balanced out Delma quite well. Together, their strengths made up for their weaknesses. Behind them was Valtonous, the goalkeeper. In front of them were Elbin and their team captain, Kakoni; the two forwards balanced each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Delma admired her team captain for many things but most of all for his ability to manage his team. He knew them all and made sure they could play Yooyuball to their best strengths, with their teammates making up for their weaknesses. Delma also respected her captain because he was an incredible strategist. She was known for her craftiness and she could focus on her honing her own skills rather than having to manage her team. This especially mattered when they went up against a team like Brightvale.
The faerie Zafara felt nothing but contempt for the cheating scum. Even without cheating, they were a formidable team. Delma knew she would have to be on her toes. The Brightvale team used the same formation as Faerieland did so no adjustments were needed there. Delma prayed to Fyora that the day would end with a win for her team.
The game began with a fire Yooyu.
Delma held back. Kakoni and Elbin were the goal scorers of the team. Along with Ciona, Delma’s job was to guard their own goal. She also had to keep Ciona focused. Often, the faerie Kyrii would get distracted and begin daydreaming so Delma had to bring her teammate back to the present.
The fire Yooyu, not surprisingly, was still in play. Just as Kakoni or Elbin got close to the Brightvale goal, the fire Yooyu would shoot away, usually straight across the field. After a mad scramble for the Yooyu, Gordo Gunnels tackled Kakoni, knocking the faerie Bruce flat. This gave Reb Weemelott the opening he needed to grab the Yooyu. Delma smiled as an idea came to her.
The faerie Zafara knew that her greatest weakness was her speed. So, she rarely tried to get the Yooyu without the help of the white feather that gave her an extra burst of speed. However, this was an opportunity that could not be passed up. Her other teammates were too far away and dealing with the other members of the Brightvale team. If her plan worked, she could make the first goal of the game.
Reb had caught the Yooyu by the far wall in the middle of the field. He couldn’t get a straight shot to the goal. All Delma had to do was intercept the Yooyu as it shot away from the spotted Nimmo. Thankfully, she only ran a few steps before the Yooyu did just that. She absolutely beamed when she caught the fire Yooyu.
The Zafara could feel the heat of the bright red Yooyu, even through her glove. She raced forward, eyes on the goal. She moved across the field, energized. She knew that she would not be making the goal; she was too far away. Elbin, however, was right by the goal and ready to catch the Yooyu.
Suddenly, Kayn Hireck seemed to loom over Delma. He was a plushie Skeith but there was nothing soft about him. His eyes glinted malevolently. Even worse, he was known for his speed. There was no way Delma could go around him as he swept out his thick tail.
The faerie Zafara tripped, landing hard.
The fire Yooyu flew away from Delma, her blue eyes wide with shock. Thankfully, Elbin was able to catch the Yooyu and threw it into the Brightvale goal. Delma breathed a sigh of relief, rising to her feet. The game continued. Delma wasn’t surprised that it was a difficult game with Brightvale giving everything they had and hitting hard with their cheating tricks.
To Faerieland’s complete shock, they won.
They were dirty, hot and tiered but completely elated. They filed out of the Colosseum, chattering excitedly. As they did a small crowd of their dedicated fans was waiting for them, just as eager as the team for their win. A young faerie Zafara caught Delma’s eye. She was colorful in appearance, waving a Multi-Coloured Sparkler in one hand and calling out to Delma.
Delma stepped over to the young Zafara and beamed down at her. The child’s excitement reminded Delma of herself at that age.
“Delma! We won! Faerieland won! The team was great out there!” the young Zafara exclaimed.
“Yes, we certainly were. We won today because we knew our fans were waiting for us to,” Delma said.
“My mother helped me bake Earth Faerie Brownies for the team.”
The Techo Fanatic seemed to come out of nowhere. He signed that he wanted a brownie. Without hesitation, the little faerie Zafara opened the box and offered him one. He munched happily on the treat, allowing the two faerie Zafaras to continue their conversation.
“That was very kind of you. My teammates and I thank you,” Delma said to the little Zafara, taking the box.
The faerie Zafara child fluttered her wings happily as Delma moved on, rejoining her team as they headed to their locker room. The incident reminded her of an interview she had once had. The reporter had approached the team, pen and paper in hand.
“I can’t believe you’ve come back! You’re one of the bottom teams. To put it plainly, you’re solid losers. Why don’t you give up?” the reporter asked.
Kakoni was about to respond but Delma intervened.
“We don’t come to the Altador Cup to win,” Delma began.
“That’s obvious,” the reporter snickered.
“We come because we love our fans and we come for the love of Yooyuball. I don’t know why other teams come. If they come just to win then I feel sorry for them. We play for each other because we all love Yooyuball. We don’t have magic like other faeries but we have Yooyuball. For us, playing the game is our magic.”
As the faerie Zafara spoke, the reporter lost his smirk and it was clear that he was listening intently to what she had to say. Then, he snorted, his gaze traveling from one of the team to another.
“You all really believe that? Well, you just give a break day to the other teams. If you can take a beating, no one else has a problem dishing it out,” the reporter said with a laugh as he walked away.
Delma had brushed off the reporter. That had not been the first time. What she had said was true. As long as there were fans like that little Zafara girl and as long as she could do something that she loved then that was all that mattered.
For her, it was all about playing the game, not winning it.