Monday, April 13, 2015

Onward to Oxford: Leicester Thestrals

As part of our efforts to preview all 32 teams competing in the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), the Quidditch Post is chatting with representatives from each team. Today we spoke with Elliot Gray, captain of the Leicester Thestrals.

Quidditch Post: So, Leicester has had an unexpected opportunity. Are you pleased to have the chance to go to EQC? It must be very exciting to be making your international début.
Elliot: Definitely! It was incredibly disappointing to miss an EQC space by so little after our performances at the British Quidditch Cup (BQC), so we're obviously pleased to be getting the chance to make our international début and play against the best Europe has to offer. Our sympathy has to go to the ITU Honeybees though, no one likes to see teams missing out on tournaments, but we'll make sure we show people why we deserve to be there.

QP: How has the sudden appearance of EQC affected your team at this stage in the season? Are you feeling stressed or taking it quite calmly?
Elliot: It's not been easy trying to sort all the plans. We had initially just thought we had Whiteknights to plan for over April, so the appearance of EQC definitely threw a kink in the works at first. Everything is fine now though and we're fully prepared to send a team to both events which is a major bonus, as we didn't want to pass up on Whiteknights or EQC. So I'd say there's definitely an air of calm about the team now that everything is sorted.

QP: How are you feeling about your group?
Elliot: We're feeling really good about it! Obviously we have played the Loughborough Longshots before so we know to some extent what we're up against there, but it’s unbelievably exciting to be going up against unknown entities in the Lille Black Snitches and Barcelona Eagles. I'm confident in my team’s abilities and I know that if we play well we have a great opportunity to get out of the group stages and I can't wait to see how we do against teams from Europe.

QP: What are your aims for the tournament? You beat Durhamstrang, a team that had an EQC bid prior to BQC because it won the Highlander Cup; are you hoping to make a name for yourselves amongst UK teams?
Elliot: We go into every tournament with the same aim, to build Leicester's reputation and make ourselves known as a force, and obviously, if we can, to win it! Beating Durham was a great result for us after a mixed first day at BQC and it highlights that we do belong in and around the best teams in the UK and can hold our own against anyone. If we can build further on that at EQC, it can only be a good thing for us.

QP: Which team(s) would you most like to meet on-pitch?
Elliot: We have a player who is currently on a year abroad in Paris and will be playing against us for Paris Frog so we're definitely hoping to meet the team at some point. A rematch against Keele Squirrels after BQC would be a great game to see as well! Most of all though we're just looking forward to playing against anyone we haven't played against before!

QP: What do you think your greatest strengths are as a team?
Elliot: Over the past year the physical side of our play has come on leaps and bounds. But more than that, I think the speed and fluidity of our passing is getting better and better at every training, and I expect to see us use that to full effect at EQC. We also have a nice mix of fast paced and physical players now so we have a nice balance running through the team in every position.

QP: I know you’ll be loath to place too much emphasis on specific people, but are there any players who you think will be key to your success?
Elliot: The whole team will have important roles to play in any success we have, but if I had to mention specifics, I think the roles of players like Warren McFadyen, Zoe Harrison, Callum Humphreys, and Dan Trick can't be understated. I could mention anyone from the team though to be honest, its very difficult to pick any specific people as more important than others!

QP: Thank you for your time!
Elliot: No worries.

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