The Leicester City Ligers Dodgeball team from The Enderby Dodgeball Academy ventured up to Sheffield for the UK Dodgeball National Championships, the biggest prize in UK Club Dodgeball.
The Ligers faced a group with the reigning champions The Meteors from Lutterworth, Northern Dodgeball League (NDL) rivals The Leeds Snipers and Irish team Kapow!
16 of the best teams from across the UK took part in this event. The Ligers were a wildcard entry after missing out on original qualification at the Midlands Qualifying event.
First up for the team was the reigning Champions The Meteors. The team were in full control from the start, accurate strong throws and exceptional catching from the Ligers lead to the team securing a very impressive 7-3 victory. A very big win and a great start to what was to be a memorable day.
The Ligers then followed up this win with 8-2 wins over Leeds and Kapow! The team were in control and confidence was high as we moved in to the Quarter finals against NDL rivals the Manchester Killer Bees.
A tight quarter final
This quarter final was exceptionally tight – the two teams had fought for the League title all season with the Ligers always getting the edge over their Manchester rivals. The match was tied at 4-4 and going in to the 5th and deciding game the Ligers were down to 1 player against 5 with 30 seconds to go.
Like something from Dodgeball The Movie, Jake Hurman took 2 stunning catches with Scotty Whitelaw hitting a player out which gave the Ligers victory! Jubilation followed as the team made it to their second National Semi final the last one being in 2008.
Next up for the team was Warwick University – 3 time Nationals Champions – who had recently been relegated to the NDL after years of being in the Dodgeball Premier League (DPL).
The confidence in the team was high and we felt unbeatable. The team took apart Warwick piece by piece with stunning catches, unbelievable Dodging and hits that were just devastating. The team were in full control and got in to their first Major Nationals Final after an 8-2 victory.
The final was against Leicester rivals The Minotaurs who also were in their first Nationals final and knocked out last years finalists The Bedford Eagles in the Semi finals and knocking out last years Champions The Meteors in the Quarters. The Minotaurs were overwhelming favourites for the match.
The Minotaurs took the first game with the Ligers winning the next 3 games to be 6-2 up in games. The Ligers were in control and the team were 1 game away from being crowned the National Champions when they had a minor setback with the Minotaurs taking the 5th game it was 6-4 to the Ligers.
The 6th and final game saw a changing moment. Richie Gray took two unbelievable catches and the team were 2 v 2 on players when Richie and Jake took down their last two players with accurate and strong throwing and won the National Championships!
The scenes that followed were utter joy and celebrations! The team that qualified via the Wildcard Playoffs became the first team to win The Nationals as a wildcard entrant and a complete outsider to take the National Trophy home.
This season the team have won the North Division League 1 Title, The Wildcard Tournament, The East Midlands Christmas Trophy and The UK National Championships!
Quote from the Captain Simon Moody:
“ The Nationals title win caps off an incredible season after winning the League Title.
“A dream come true and so proud of how well the team has played all year.
“We felt after the Meteors win at the group stage anything was possible. Its taken 9 years of hard work, but we finally did it! A true Underdog story.
“We overcame the reigning National Champions, the Meteors, in our group – along with Kapow and Leeds Snipers.
“We then progressed to the quarter finals where we faced Manchester Bees in a very close match where we won in the last dying seconds.
“We then overcame a semi final match against Warwick University followed by a great final against fellow Leicester Rivals the Leicester Minotaurs.
“The team are delighted to add this silverware to our Christmas Open, NDL 1 North League Title and Wild Card Playoff.”