Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stampeding to Sarteano: Catalonia

by Sherrie Talgeri

Quidditch in Catalonia is steadily growing; its NBG, Associació de Quidditch de Catalunya, was recognized in late 2014 by the IQA, and there are currently three official teams: the Barcelona Eagles and Wyverns Quidditch Team from Barcelona, and the Nightmare Grims from Tarragona. Catalan quidditch began in 2013 with the founding of the Barcelona Eagles by Alba Arrieta, and the team catalysed the creation of the Grims and Wyverns Quidditch.

The Eagles and the Grims have both attracted European attention at the Tournoi International de la Violette in Toulouse, France. In addition, the Eagles have attended the Brussels Muscles Invitational and represented Catalonia at the 2014 and 2015 European Quidditch Cup (EQC), placing seventh in 2014 and 21st in 2015. Tournaments organised by the region, such as the Barcelona Moustaches Time and the Catalan Cup, have consolidated growth, which has been consistent but not as rapid as that of other countries. This may be attributed to the small population of the region. Catalonia is looking to impress at the European Games, and we can expect to see great things from the region at this tournament and the coming season.

Logo of the Associació de Quidditch de Catalunya, the Catalan National Governing Body

The Squad
An asterisk at the end of a player’s name indicates that they are likely to be seeking alongside their primary position.

Chema Hidalgo (Barcelona Eagles) - Captain
Marc Garganté (Barcelona Eagles)
Pau Moncusí (Barcelona Eagles)

Marc Vilamú (Barcelona Eagles) - Coach
Angel Miguel Guerrero (Nightmare Grims)
Maria Lucea (Nightmare Grims)
Jaume Miró (Barcelona Eagles)
Pau Pérez (Barcelona Eagles)
Aida Rodríguez (Barcelona Eagles)
Cristobal Roselló* (Barcelona Eagles)
Xavi Rossell (Nightmare Grims)
Ania Rühling (Barcelona Eagles)
Adrián Sanders* (Nightmare Grims)
Jordi Ventura* (Barcelona Eagles)

Alba Arrieta (Barcelona Eagles)
Daniel Fernández (Barcelona Eagles)
Toni Salvador* (Barcelona Eagles)
Sílvia Fortuny (Nightmare Grims)
Laura Prats (Nightmare Grims)
Alex Gomez (New York Badassilisks)

The Leadership
The team, named “The Reapers,” is being led by two Barcelona Eagles who have played quidditch since its advent in Catalonia; Chema Hidalgo and Marc Vilamú are captain and coach respectively. Both extremely talented utility players, the pair are childhood friends who have experience working together in leadership roles; last season, Hidalgo was the the physical trainer for the Eagles while Vilamú coached. They will reprise these roles for the national team, with Vilamú focusing on tactics and Hidalgo helping to increase the team’s fitness and physicality. With Vilamú’s strategic mind and Hidalgo’s rugby background, this accomplished partnership will bring the best out of the players of the Catalan team.

Team Catalonia is mainly composed of the Barcelona Eagles and the Nightmare Grims, giving the team an easy cohesion that other teams will attempt to emulate. Furthermore, due to the close proximity of Barcelona and Tarragona, the Catalan team has trained together regularly for several months. The strong team chemistry and communication it has developed will give it a huge advantage against other nations that did not have this geographical luxury.

Unlike many young quidditch nations, all players on the Catalan team have been to at least one major international tournament; those who played for the Eagles at the 2015 EQC will have a good understanding of the challenges they will face at the European Games. The team will benefit from the comparatively vast experience of Hidalgo, Vilamú, and Arrieta, who have had a broad exposure to the physical and mental demands of tournaments as well as innovative tactics spearheaded by other nations.

Team Catalonia will be bringing many capable players to the European Games. Though Maria Lucea has only been playing for a year, she is a fast and agile chaser with a football background who will be an enormous asset during quick counterattacks. Opposing teams should also be careful not to underestimate Pau Pérez, who will pierce any cracks in the opposition’s defence and expertly block advances to the hoops while defending. Tackles from Pérez, Xavi Rossell, and Marc Garganté will certainly pack a punch, and the team’s beating and chasing games should work well together to achieve great tactical plays.
Furthermore, Catalonia has sought talent from overseas. Alex Gómez del Moral of the New York Badassilisks is an adept, strategic beater and will be bringing an abundance of experience to the Catalan beating lineup. However, Gómez del Moral has been unable to take part in the team training thus far and may find it difficult to fit into the established dynamic and adapt to new tactics. That being said, since he has attended previous summer trainings this should not be too much of a hindrance.

Catalonia has drawn Pool B, where France will undoubtedly rule the roost. Spain, Belgium, and Turkey will be its closest competition and it is difficult to say who will come out on top. Given that Catalonia neighbours Spain, and having recently encountered Belgium and Turkey at the 2015 EQC, Team Catalonia will have a good understanding of its opponents. Belgium and Turkey outperformed Catalonia at EQC, though it should be noted that the Eagles had a difficult group and lost twice in SWIM range. It will be intriguing to see what impact the team training will have had on the Reapers, and whether this can tip the balance in its favour.

Indeed, it is likely that Catalonia will progress to the bracket stage, and the team is optimistic it will do so. Nevertheless, its seeding will determine whether it advances further and it will be interesting to see whether Catalonia will proceed beyond the quarterfinals. Ultimately, it is certain Catalonia will play some captivating and tense matches in pool play.

Team Catalonia kit

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