The Faerigan Altador Cup Special
As everyone is gearing up for the Altador Cup, even Neopia’s famous leaders are ready to cheer on their teams. Although they do not directly coach their teams, they act as sponsors. In some cases, this means directly financing the team and their travel, food, and lodging expenses for the Cup. In other cases, it’s securing places for them to practice, relax, and ready themselves for the game today. Today, we have two Neopian leaders: Lord Darigan and Queen Fyora. Both of them have graciously offered their time to give Neopian Times readers an in-depth look at what goes on behind-the-scenes. How do their teams practice? What do they do in the off-season? What sort of training styles do they support? Join me, Sally Mance, as I explore some of these topics with two of Neopa’s greats.
(This interview is sponsored content. We offer compensation to both parties towards their respective teams).
Sally: Good afternoon, Lord Darigan and Queen Fyora. I bow. It’s an honour to meet you both.
Lord Darigan: The honour is mine, Sally.
Queen Fyora: There’s no need to bow. You may call me “Fyora,” if you so please.
Sally: Wow, okay. Fyora it is. May I begin?
Fyora: You may.
Lord Darigan gestures his hand forward.
Sally: Thank you, your Lordship, your Majesty. First set of questions. What is your opinion of Yooyuball as a sport? Is it a priority for your land, and what does the cup mean to you? Let’s start off with Lord Darigan.
Lord Darigan: We’re competitive by nature, so it’s only natural that our performance in the Altador Cup is a point of national pride. We’ve made it a goal to keep in the top half of the pack each year and have done this well. We have a gold, silver, and bronze trophy sitting in the Great Hall with the names of the players engraved in gold. Perhaps this will be the year we bring home a second gold trophy? We’re holding a place in the trophy cabinet for it. The Altador Cup is a good way to place our nation’s strength at the forefront. To show the world that we can hold our own despite being a small land.
Sally: That makes sense. So, it’s a way of showing, on a global stage, what the Citadel is capable of?
Lord Darigan: Correct.
Sally: And how about you, Fyora?
Fyora: The Altador Cup is a summit of lands, a chance for us to come together in peace with Neopians from around the world. Our team acts as ambassadors for Faerieland, showing the world its welcoming nature and of the partnership between Faeries and Neopians. After Faerieland fell… she sighs it became all that more important to lend a hand to our neighbouring nations, to show them that we are a part of Neopia. Winning would be nice, but it isn’t our priority. The year our team took 4th place, there were celebrations everywhere. Banners and streamers hung from every tower. It was a marvellous affair.
Lord Darigan: We certainly celebrated on the years when we placed, but there is lesser fanfare for the years when we finish below fourth place.
Sally: I was wondering if you could tell me more about your team. Has this year brought any changes? Since Lord Darigan started, let’s hear from Fyora first.
Queen Fyora: This year saw a major change in our line-up. After 12 years of play, 9 of which were on Team Faerieland, Elbin Kroe saw fit to retire. With his aggressive style of play, he often found himself injured and pushing through the games for the sake of the team. ACXV was particularly rough on his wings; even our best faerie healers could not undo the damage made over time. It’s a shame, really, such a spirited Shoyru. She shakes her head. He promises to cheer for Whimsi Dia, our newest member, from the VIP lounge. She has a lot of heart and talent, and meshes well with the team.
Lord Darigan: Our team isn’t much for change. He cracks a slight grin. We know what works and we have a good chemistry between our players. Mungo Lifler was the only one to leave the Citadel’s team after the first Cup; he was a divisive sort, and argued frequently with Layton Vickles. The captain came to me often, asking if I had any chance to scout new members for their team. Through one of our recruitment events, we found Reshar Collifey. He may not have had the skill that Lifler did, but had he remained, we would not have a team.
Sally: And how would you say your team practices? What are your thoughts on training methodology?
Lord Darigan: Fyora, I would hear your side first.
Fyora: Goodness, Darigan, there’s no need for such formalities—it’s just us here.
Lord Darigan: If you insist.
Fyora: I do. Please, go first.
Lord Darigan: Okay, Fyora. He crosses his arms. You win this time.
Fyora: It isn’t about winning or losing, silly. It’s about hearing your thoughts—oh. But we’ve gone a little off-topic, haven’t we?
Sally: It’s okay, Your Majesty, Lord Darigan. I’m just a humble reporter. If you two want to banter, by all means.
Lord Darigan: No, no, let’s keep on topic. Citadel knows the two of us could chatter away for hours. So, you asked about training methods? We use the petpet dome as a training facility as the Cup draws near, closing it for a few hours at a time so that our team members can practice on a large field. Their passes, their scoring, and their tackles all have to be made as clean as possible and with as few chances for injury as possible. Tandrak Shaye has somehow managed to stick with the team these past 16 years. He has a way with his fans that draws a large amount of sponsorship for our Citadel, but we do worry about his wellbeing. His injuries are starting to mount, leading us to believe that this very well may be his final cup. But hopefully the Gelert can see things through longer—he’s a very talented player.
Sally: Wow, so even in the off-season you guys are hardcore, keeping up with your drills and skills?
Lord Darigan: Correct. We don’t want to get rusty lest our team drops below our standard. They work hard and they take their training very seriously so that they’re in their best form.
Sally: And how about Faerieland? Are you all practising non-stop, too?
Fyora: Not in the same way. We’re a bit more holistic in our approach.
Fyora: Yes, Dear. We do practice our drills, but also meditate, do stretching seasons, and enjoy spa times in the Faerieland hot springs.
Sally: Wow. That sounds lovely.
Fyora: It is lovely. And it puts our athletes in a better frame of mind for practice. We want them to get better, but we also want them to have healthy minds and bodies as well.
Sally: Lord Darigan, do you ever do any holistic methods with your teams?
Lord Darigan: No, that’s not our style. I think the public would scoff at such an idea, but if the team members want to relax in their spare time, that is good and encouraged.
Fyora: You know your team members are always welcome in our springs. I know of a certain left forward who has a bit of “Shaye Fever.” She chuckles. She would be very excited.
Lord Darigan: After the Cup is done, we’ll make sure to visit.
Fyora: We’ll all look forward to it then, together. And yes, Sally. I see your sparkling eyes—of course, you can join as well.
Sally: Yippee! I mean, that would be most gracious, Fyora. Thank you.
Fyora: You’re welcome, Dear.
Sally: So that brings me to my final question—and it’s a serious one at that. Super serious. What is your favourite Altador Cup food?
Fyora: Serious, huh? Silly reporter. Yes, I have a favourite. It’s the Faerie Queen burrito.
Sally: They sell them at the Cup?
Fyora: For me they do—I special order them every year.
Sally: Wow, I need to hang around your VIP booth more often.
Fyora: I’ll order an extra one for you, Dear.
Lord Darigan: And I, as strange as it sounds, enjoy fried marrow strips. There is this somewhat threateningly-named eatery in Meridell that makes the best version I’ve ever had. Their serving wench works the stands on the Meridell versus Darigan game days.
Sally: And what’s that eatery’s name?
Lord Darigan: “The Mangled Marrow.”
Sally: Yikes—that does sound intimidating. I betcha only rough-and-tough Neopians eat there.
(Disclaimer: we are not affiliated with this eatery, nor are we getting paid advertising revenue for mentioning them by name.)
Lord Darigan: Likely so, but I’ve never actually been.
Sally: Maybe one day you’ll make it there in disguise? Maybe both of you could do it?
Fyora: That would be a lot of fun, wouldn’t it, Darigan? Sneaking around incognito.
Lord Darigan: Indeed it would, Fyora.
Sally: And at that, we’re out of time. We at the Neopian Times wanted to extend our deepest thanks to both of these lovely Neopians for spending a few minutes with us today.
Fyora: Thank you—this was fun.
Lord Darigan: And I need to figure out where I can order those marrow strips to my chambers—but I digress. Thank you for a pleasant interview.
Sally: You’re welcome, Lord Darigan, Fyora. Wishing your teams a successful Altador Cup!