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Portsmouth Take 4th at Whiteknights 6

On the 21st and 22nd of April, Portsmouth competed alongside 10 other teams at the sixth instalment of Reading Quidditch’s much anticipated annual tournament.

Whiteknights Campus in Reading played host to 11 teams spread across 3 groups on day 1 (originally 12 teams before a last minute withdrawal from Keele). Portsmouth found itself well placed in a competitive group also containing the Bristol Beas, Swansea Swans and Bournemouth Banshees. Teams were allowed to bring a maximum of 3 mercenary players to compliment their squads, accordingly these teams were smattered with players from Oxford, Southampton, London and elsewhere. Alongside the normal Portsmouth contingent were Oxford Chimeras’ Lestra Atlas, Mikey Ansell and Dan Winters. This tournament was also the debut performance for 16 year old Callum Brown. Callum playing for the first time alongside his brother, and captain on the day, Scott Brown.

Portsmouth’s first game was against the Bristol Bees, their side bolstered by members of the Bristol first team the Bristol Bears. A disappointing 90*-30 loss saw bees take their first win after 5 consecutive losses to Portsmouth in previous fixtures. In the team talks that followed the loss was blamed largely on lacking synergy between players and a post-BQC rustiness in general play.

Game number 2 with the Swansea Swans was a highly anticipated match. Following BQC and the season’s Southwest league games Swansea boasted 2 wins to Portsmouth’s 1 across the 3 matches. The final score was a tight and impressive 120*-70 to Portsmouth taking the tally to 2-2 between the 2 teams. Where Portsmouth had struggled to compete with Swansea’s very strong chaser line up before, Winters and Ansell made up the deficit nicely with their physical play style. This combined well with a dominant beating display from Lestra and the Portsmouth regulars to secure the victory.

Unfortunately, fortunes reversed for the final game of the day with Bournemouth. A heart-wrenching 120*-110 loss nearly ended Portsmouth’s upper bracket ambitions. Thankfully, the tournament structure allowed 2 third place teams to move up and Portsmouth made the cut on points difference. Based on early and midgame performance, Portsmouth should have found itself comfortably ahead in this game. However, mistakes and confusion at snitch on pitch gave Bournemouth the edge they needed for players like Southampton beater Kerry Aziz and London Unspeakables’ Gio Forino to pull them back into range. Once there, they eventually caught to win from behind.

Moving into day 2, Portsmouth were matched up with the Southampton seconds. Portsmouth began the game cautiously but soon upped the pace as it became clear they had found whatever had been missing on day 1. The final score was a resounding 150*-10 victory for Portsmouth, Southampton’s only goal coming off of the back of some fast reactions from chaser Kevin Luu to a Portsmouth dropped ball. Portsmouth were dominant in every aspect of this game with no weak links in sight among their line up. This compliment extends genuinely to first time player Callum Brown who not only came a hairs width away from scoring but also caught the snitch to end the game in spectacular fashion.

Portsmouth now moved into the quarter finals against the Exeter Eagles. This should have been their most difficult match up by far with Exeter and Falmouth tipped as the tournament’s dominant teams. A phenomenal performance saw Portsmouth ahead on quaffle by 60 points to Exeter’s 40 when Mikey Ansell caught the snitch. Unfortunately, the catch was disallowed due to a fowl elsewhere on the pitch. This led to a game that could easily have been Portsmouth’s going 70*-60 to Exeter after their following catch was called good. Portsmouth moved into the 3rd place play off with the Bristol Bees.

Portsmouth ended the tournament with a 90*-50 loss to the Bees in an incredibly tight game. Fatigue from the hot day and no game slot to rest in before the play off may have helped the Bees secure 3rd place.

Despite missing out on the podium, this tournament represented one of Portsmouth’s best and most promising performances to date with plenty of new talent coming through. The tournament was well run, enjoyable and there was a great atmosphere between teams. We can’t wait for the next tournament!

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Portsmouth Strikers compete at British Quidditch Cup

Strikers’ first team, the Horntail Strikers, competed at the British Quidditch Cup 2018 on March 24-25th in Oxford.

Hosted by QuidditchUK, the tournament saw 32 teams from across the UK compete for the cup. The Strikers qualified for BQC after a commendable performance at the regional Southern Cup 2017 where Portsmouth placed 8th, successfully securing a second seeded spot for BQC.

Day one of the tournament saw predetermined groups compete in a round robin format, with the top two teams from each group continuing into the upper bracket on day two. Portsmouth’s group included overall tournament winners Velociraptors QC, the Sheffield Squids and the Swansea Swans.

With a modest squad of 14 and suffering from the unexpected loss of both of the team’s designated keepers in the week before the tournament, the Strikers entered their first match against the Sheffield Squids with determination. After beating the Squids 160*-20 for 3rd place in the Consolation bracket of BQC 2017, the Strikers were excited to put their new tactics to the test in the repeat. Both teams demonstrated their heavy training over the last season with gameplay and tactics improving drastically since the previous year. After some excellent plays from both sides the score remained in SWIM range at the release of the snitch. The release of the seekers saw the game change suddenly to a messy style of play, with Sheffield scoring a final goal in the chaos. This success was quickly followed by a catch for the Squids, who secured their first win of the day at 80*-30.

Portsmouth entered their second match of the day against team friends the Swansea Swans. After one victory apiece at their two-match Southwest League fixture in January, the teams were excited for the rematch. Swansea played spectacularly, pulling away from Portsmouth in the early game and quickly catching the snitch to secure a 60*-10 win. Despite the final score, strong individual performances were seen across the Strikers squad including outstanding play from Assistant Chaser Coach Ellie “Luna” Marvin, whose confidence in heavy contact during the match was particularly remarkable.

Strikers’ final game of the day was against previous BQC champions Velociraptors QC. Experienced utility player Ryan Ellwood scored twice against the tournament favourites, doubling Portsmouth’s record against the formidable team from their match one year earlier. Chaser Lydia Stead performed spectacularly throughout the game, keeping a cool head in high pressure situations in her debut season. Beater pair Jaelithe Swan and Jack Latoy showed some tenacious play on Raptor’s hoops, successfully turning over bludgers on more than one occasion deep inside their opponent’s half. Ex-vice-captain Ryan went on to catch the snitch in the late game. Despite the catch and incredible personal performances from many team members, Portsmouth predictably fell second to Raptor’s experience and physicality and concluded their first day with a 160-50* loss.

The team entered day two with high hopes, set to play the Chester Centurions. After a tight, well-played game, the score remained in overtime range at the release of the snitch. Thwarted by Chester’s snitch catch, which launched the team into a 110*-50 win, Portsmouth were ultimately knocked out of the tournament. Special mentions for the match include Strikers’ keeper Jonathon Burstow. Unable to attend the Saturday of BQC, Jon had an immeasurable impact on the game and was able to inject vital pace and decision-making confidence into the keeper role which was lacking in the team’s day 1 performance. Chester went on to win the lower bracket.

As well as some challenging games, the tournament saw the debut of many Portsmouth referees. Strikers’ captain Jack Latoy snitched various games throughout the tournament and concluded the weekend by snitching the BQC final between Velociraptors and Warwick QC.

Despite the disappointing end to their QUK season the Strikers are excited to compete at Whitenights VI later this month, hosted by the Reading Knights, and are looking forward to next year and the chance to consolidate their training before regionals.

Strikers Quidditch would like to thank everyone involved in the tournament, particularly the BQC organising committee and the dedicated individuals who refereed our matches.

credit Claire Purslow Quidditch Photography
Portsmouth Captain Jack Latoy snitching the Raptors-Werewolves Semi-Final

Photo credit: Claire Purslow Quidditch Photography

Cover photo credit: Chaz Hopkins Art

 

Strikers Wins Startup of the Year Award

Strikers Sports and Recreation are delighted to announce that they have been awarded Startup of the Year Runner Up at this year’s University of Portsmouth Enterprise Showcase.

The Enterprise Showcase 2018 was hosted at the University of Portsmouth’s Portland Building on Thursday 15th March, where the winners and runner ups of nine award categories were announced. The awards evening included exhibitions by multiple startup businesses and saw varying awards for staff, students and graduates.

Strikers Sports and Recreation was established in 2016 by University of Portsmouth alumnus Jack Latoy, and currently encompasses Strikers Taekwondo and Strikers Quidditch. The business has grown steadily since its beginning, now boasting 5 weekly classes across Portsmouth and recently hosting their largest Taekwondo grading to date. Meanwhile, Strikers Quidditch will be competing at the British Quidditch Cup later in March.

The Enterprise Showcase is hosted annually by nest, the student startup incubator, to display and celebrate the entrepreneurial work of University of Portsmouth students and graduates. Other awards celebrated on the night included the Social Start Up Award and Staff Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Year.

Enterprise Startup of the Year nominations were open to the public earlier in the year. The award celebrates the commitment and drive of companies and individuals who take pride in their work and use their passion to succeed within their business.

Strikers Sport and Recreation was nominated alongside 20 other student and graduate startups established in the last 18 months. You can read the nomination below:

“I believe Strikers should win this award as recognition of their ambition, initiative, and commitment to their clients.

I admire the passion that Jack has for both his coaching and business, and the difference that this makes to the lives of the people Strikers reaches. Strikers Sports and Rec has expanded to reach more people than ever, growing from offering an established individual sport to coach a new and inclusive team sport as well.

Strikers Taekwondo coaches a variety of students from 5 years old through to university students and offers a familiar and safe community to all, alongside targeted coaching and an instructor who has genuine faith in his students. One year on, Strikers expanded to include quidditch coaching. Professionalising the coaching of quidditch hasn’t been done before in the UK, and Jack uses a combination of his knowledge from teaching other sports and his degree education to successfully pave the way for other coaches across the country in terms of content, technique and drive.

Jack brings out the best in his athletes, both in and out of sessions, and the friendly and encouraging environment that he offers them week-in and week-out is undoubtedly both the best element of his classes and the one that takes the most devotion. His commitment to his work and his students is an inspiration, and his genuine happiness for all of his students after their successes (either at gradings, tournaments, or competitions) is a sign of his dedication to them and their achievements.”

Thrilled to receive the award, Jack said: “To be nominated alongside so many other strong candidates at the Showcase, and to see the variety of services these student and graduate businesses have to offer, was a magnificent experience. I was flattered to be awarded Runner Up in the category – to be recognised for a year of hard work is wonderful and I can’t wait to see the progression of Strikers Sports and Recreation in the coming year.”

Strikers wishes to extend congratulations to all award winners and nominees across the evening, with a special congratulations to Startup of the Year 1st place winners, The Student Food Project. You can view all nominations and winners at the nest website, here.

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Portsmouth Players selected for the Quidditch Premier League

Strikers Quidditch is delighted to announce that 5 of our first team players have been selected for the Quidditch Premier League 2018.

As the UK’s first summer quidditch tournament the QPL saw an unprecedented interest in its debut season – with hundreds of players and spectators gathering at Craven Park Stadium in Hull for the league’s Championship in August 2017. The league has expanded from 8 to 10 teams for its second year after the addition of the Scottish Thistles and the Welsh Dragons.

Competing squads were selected by team managers after League tryouts in February.

We can confirm the places of 5 Portsmouth players across 3 QPL teams; the Eastern Mermaids, the Welsh Dragons, and the Southeast Knights.

Congratulations to Scott Brown, Jack Latoy and Jaelithe Swan for their places on Eastern Mermaids, Dan Morgan for his place on the Welsh Dragons and Tristan Harris for his place on the Southeast Knights.

 

Graphics credit: Quidditch Premier League 

Dan Morgan, Portsmouth chaser/keeper and community member, is thrilled to have been selected. He says:

“I mentioned in passing that it would be cool to play quidditch for Wales to one of my teammates, and he told me about the welsh team in QPL. Being a very proud and patriotic Welshman, I was very excited. After winning against the Welsh team manager with the Portsmouth Strikers in January I went through the selection process and was picked for the squad.”

Dan joined the Portsmouth squad in September 2017, settling in quickly and becoming a vital part of the team. Dan has an interest in unusual sports and successfully balances his quidditch training with other sporting commitments including regular Octopush training, qualifiers and competitions.

“As I have only played quidditch for 18 months, I don’t know many players from other teams,” he explains. “QPL has already been a great opportunity for me to speak to players in other teams from all over the UK. With talk of Wales going to a friendly tournament against Scotland, Ireland and Sweden in preparation for QPL, the profile of the sport is going to be raised significantly.

“I am looking forward to playing against top teams and really getting a chance to show what I can do – but most of all I am looking forward to walking out at Cardiff Arms Park to play for Wales with my friends and family there to watch me.”

Good luck to all competing teams this summer!

Strikers Impress at “This Girl Can” Dodgeball Tournament

The University of Portsmouth Dodgeball Club, the Purple Cobras, recently hosted a two-week charity tournament during This Girl Can Week.

The friendly tournament was open to University of Portsmouth students and graduates, with or without dodgeball experience. Spread across two weekly sessions, the tournament gave our student Strikers the chance to utilise their dodgeball skills and help raise money for charity.

Strikers came second in the tournament, missing out on first place against the Dodgeball Club Firsts.

The tournament raised a total of £106.83, which will go towards an elected female related charity.

Strikers’ member Sophie Ward took part in both weeks and said: “The tournament was really fun! I really liked the girls and it was nice playing matches with people who wanted to beat us – it was challenging and different to quidditch training. It was difficult not to bring aspects of beating into the game though, like using full contact elements when running for the balls at the beginning!”

This Girl Can is a Sport England campaign celebrating active women across the UK and encouraging girls to get active however they can – be it through team sports, running, classes or more. This Girl Can Week took place November 20th-26th 2017 and saw women taking part in new activities and sports across the country.

University of Portsmouth Quidditch Club President Jaelithe said, “We encourage every one of our girls to do their best – and it was great to see them getting active and using their passion for sports outside of our sessions.”

Quidditch is considered one of the few truly gender inclusive sports available, with a gender rule allowing no more than 4 people of the same gender on pitch at once. Often described as revolutionary, the rule gives non-male players a vital role in the sport.

“Our girl’s excellent performance is really testament to the Strikers Quidditch training ethos,” says Strikers Quidditch Director Jack Latoy. “For us the gender rule isn’t ‘4 men play the game and we need 3 girls for gender’. We don’t just ‘have girls on pitch’. Our girls train hard, play harder, and do us proud.”

We’d like to thank the Dodgeball Club for hosting us, and hope to see you at training soon!

Photo credit: Tom Mcdonald: Magic Memories Photos

Strikers Storm Southern Cup 2017!

Our first team, the Portsmouth Horntail Strikers, played a grueling Southern Cup last weekend. Contending with 8 inch deep mud and icy intermittent rain, Portsmouth battled it out against the might of the Southampton first team, the comparatively inexperienced but highly physical Bathilisks and old friends of the team The Norwich Nifflers.

Portsmouth’s first performance of the group stages was a difficult game against rivals and eventual tournament winners, Southampton firsts. Portsmouth played an uncharacteristically poor game here, eventually conceding a heavy 210*-10 defeat. While a significant loss was always on the cards playing into SQC’s incredibly experienced and talented line up, the huge differential is also indicative of Portsmouth’s slow adaptation to the playing conditions and some players being unaccustomed to such one sided matches and how to play them. It was not all doom and gloom however, Portsmouth conceded the least points against SQC with Bath and Norwich losing by 350 and 260 points respectively.

Following an important team talk, Portsmouth marched into its next match with the Norwich Nifflers, determined to put in a game winning performance better representative of their quality. While Norwich have significantly picked up their game from previous years, this match was still likely to go in Portsmouth’s favour. As it was, Norwich played a smart, ultra-compact defense which, coupled with the quagmire pitch, served to prevent many Portsmouth goal attempts. Simply, as Portsmouth would drive the ball forwards they would have to go through a defender who would in turn slide into and knock over the hoop the player was attempting to score in. The final score was a comfortable 100*-10 win for Portsmouth, a score which would have likely been higher another day as the mud slowed down play. While Norwich showed a strong defense, they lacked direction in their offence and were reluctant to commit to contact. If Norwich can fix these issues they will be stronger contenders in future.

The final game on the Saturday was between Portsmouth and Bath. This highly physical match up saw a larger onus on smaller players than usual producing big hits as larger players struggled to gain traction in the deepening mud. This led to large amounts of scrappy, frantic play on both teams’ hoops which Portsmouth tended to win out on as their beaters put in a dominant, napalm heavy display and the chasers landed tackle after tackle on defense. On a firm pitch Portsmouth’s more mature play style would have likely shone through and secured them a comfortable victory, as it was Bath’s more direct strategies played well to the treacherous conditions and managed to keep them in contention to win from behind until the last minutes of the game. The final score was 90*-30 to Portsmouth, putting the Strikers on the road to BQC.

At the end of day 1 Portsmouth had secured their place at BQC and found themselves in the upper bracket, placing 9th out of 21 teams. Generally you would expect positions 6-10 to be the second seeded teams of the tournament but instead Portsmouth found themselves in strange company. A vastly improved Reading squad managed to pull a win from behind against Swansea to take their upper bracket slot and Bristol Bees defeated Falmouth in an unprecedented win for the plucky second team. Portsmouth may have placed as high as 6th on another day but the poor pitch quality prevented them from racking up as high of a “points difference per minute” as other teams on firmer pitches. In order to achieve their goal of attending BQC as a second seeded team Portsmouth would have take one more win. The game would be against the Reading Knights, a team that had caught to win against Portsmouth from behind only weeks before.

On Sunday morning Portsmouth met Reading on the remnants of one of the previous day’s pitches, a ruined field veiled by a thin film of frost. Both teams knew what was on the line in this game and gave their all throughout. Over the course of the match Portsmouth’s smaller squad suffered heavily from niggling injuries which led to the eventual loss of several players in the latter stages. Both team’s beaters were well matched and chasers hit each other hard. In the male chasing there was little in it either way however Portsmouth’s girls put in a massive effort and were instrumental in propping up a flagging team. The quaffle score was 50-40 to Reading before the catch however should have been 50-50 or even 50-30 to Portsmouth as video footage shows an outrageously embarrassing moment for one of the goal refs as they are seen chatting to a member of the crowd and missing a beautiful long range shot from Dan Morgan through the centre hoop. This oversight led to a Reading counterattack ultimately leading to a further goal for the Knights. Fortunately, Ryan Ellwood made the crucial snitch catch to end the game at 70*-50 for Portsmouth and making the team’s progression at BQC that much easier!

This win threw Portsmouth into their final game of the tournament, a 130-30* loss to SQC in the team’s second meeting. While this was another heavy loss, the score margins were half that of the previous days game and Portsmouth played with ambition and quality throughout. While Portsmouth scored no points in the quaffle game, this was in no part down to their quality of play or effort. The mud coupled with SQC’s well drilled defense ended many excellent scoring attempts and fatigue began to slow the Portsmouth defensive response. Portsmouth can hold their heads up proud though! Not only was their score margin with SQC almost the same as the Bristol Bears (BQC 2017 second place) whose game ended 130*-10, they also managed to catch the snitch deep into the opposition half from under the noses of both Team UK Beaters and Seekers. The catch providing a sweet, if small, victory to end the tournament.

Overall Portsmouth placed 8th at Southern Cup 2017 in an exceptionally fun but taxing tournament. Now the team is resting up before beginning preparations for their upcoming Southwest League Match with the Bristol Bears and getting in shape for BQC 2018 and beyond! The team would like to extend special thanks to all of the referees and snitches who made our games possible and of course the organising committee for the tournament who did a fantastic job across the weekend. Particular thanks go out to Nicole Stone and Lauren Sterry for some exceptional refereeing and snitch running.

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Strikers Quidditch Attend Reading SWL Fixture

On Saturday 21st of October 2017, Strikers Quidditch took a small squad of 8 people to Reading to participate in friendly games with the Reading Knights, Bathilisks and Bristol Bees quidditch teams.

Portsmouth arrived on location at 9am, having mostly risen at 5am that morning, for a bleary eyed game with hosts the Reading Knights. Reading surprised Portsmouth by playing well above the standard expected after last BQC, winning the game by snitch catch 70* to Portsmouth’s 60. Tiredness seemed to affect the Strikers in this first game with a few defensive plays falling apart and some offensive plays being thrown away needlessly, a lack of non-male players also upset the teams performance as with snitch on pitch they entirely lost their ability to substitute. However, despite these factors emphasis should not be taken away from the vast improvements in the Reading squad which they will surely bring to bare come Southern cup this November.

Portsmouth’s next game was a classic showdown with the Bristol Bees. Portsmouth won this game in these team’s fourth meeting in less than 2 years 170* – 80. This was an exceptionally high scoring game possibly owing to the disparity between each teams more experienced players and new talent with the old guard able to exploit gaps created by the newer player’s inexperience. Hopefully this game will have provided invaluable experience for both teams to bring to bare in the coming season.

The final game of the day was Portsmouth versus Bathilisks. This game saw a depleted Bath side playing without their experienced backbone players Thomas Newton and Anthony Tatman who instead head reffed and snitched respectively. Without this leadership on pitch a Bath squad that had looked like a strong physical side earlier in the day immediately went 50 – 0 down against a Portsmouth side that had definitely woken up. Unable to bring their physicality to bare, Bath eventually lost 180* – 10 in a game with more cards given to Bath than any other team Portsmouth has ever seen. If Bath can keep their heads they look like a strong squad going forward but it would be hard to call based on the inconsistent performances seen over the weekend.
Officially this occasion was the Bristol versus Bath South West League fixture which Bath won in comfortable games for them. A special mention should go out to Tristan Harris for his efforts as head referee for the official matches played on this day.