The nature of the sport of Dodgeball, in most instances, splits men and women into their gender brackets, allowing only men to play men and women to play women. The University Mixed Open occurs annually to change the entire nature of the sport itself, it allows for the differing aspects of the women’s and men’s games to coincide, and thus provides an extremely exciting event every single year!
Setting off, as painful it was, at 6:15am, a group of 12 UEA Dodgeballers headed to Brackley, Northamptonshire to compete in the University Mixed Tournament organised by British Dodgeball. The event consisted of a group stage in which all teams competed with four others in the group in the morning. The teams that won the most and second most points went on to compete for a trophy and the 3rd and 4th teams competed for a plate. A few last-minute drop outs meant that each team was one woman short, though that didn’t dull the excitement and competitive spirit of the players as each started their first match.
The first team (team selection – Hannah Kingston (C), Hazel Williamson, Alex Wootton, Elliott Jones, Cosmin Mititelu and Nathaniel Ducuru) were against the Birmingham 3rd team. Both put up a good fight, with the match ending in a draw of 8 all. The next game was won with overwhelming success beating Sheffield’s second team 15-3, putting them into first place in their group. Next up was Southampton 1sts, the team’s last obstacle to get into the quarter finals for the cup. After a smashing performance by the first team, with players Ducuru and Kingston making synchronised catches, they managed to beat the opposition 7-5. This led them to go against the Leicester team in which they snatched the lead in over time, taking them into the semi-finals against Warwick. Sadly though, after an extremely fierce play by UEA’s first team they lost 14-0, knocking them out of the tournament, but with their heads held high knowing they’d played their absolute hardest.
The seconds (Team Selection: Matthew McStea (C), Ben Meaden, Jacob Poyser, Oscar Finney, Jennifer Unwin-Beharrell and Amy Fretwell) had their first game against the Birmingham 1st team, who had several international level Dodgeballers on their side. They put on a fantastic show, winning 3 sets against the opposing team but ultimately were graciously defeated by Birmingham 1sts 8-6. Next, they were up against Warwick’s team, a group of formidable players, however, Unwin-Beharrell, on her first ever competitive event, managed to catch a ball between her legs while dodging others, a move envied by even the most experienced players. After playing exceptionally well considering the set-back of having one less player, the 2nds ultimately lost but were proud of their performance. The last team to compete against in the group stages were the Lincoln 1sts, another very experienced team, who sadly again seized the win over the second team. This put the 2nd team in fourth place and therefore competing for the plate. In the quarter finals the team gained their first win of the tournament. They were up against Imperial College London and, even after Unwin-Beharrell caused more controversy by hitting a player already holding a ball splitting the refs, with some thinking he’d caught it and others saying he was out, they beat them 8-6. Next, they were to play the Southampton 1st team in the semi-final. Unfortunately, though, this was where the chance of winning the plate ended for the UEA Second team as they were just beaten in the last second 8-6 to Southampton. Thus, concluding the day’s events.
Although the day wasn’t successful in gaining the club more medals or a Plate/Cup, all who competed were proud of their performance. The day was a great example of the fun, competitive and inclusive nature of the sport, furthering connections with other universities and an excellent experience to bring members of the club together who do not usually play with each other competitively.