T’arah Inam-McDermott reports on the Panther’s first league match of the season and interviews captain, Tamara Höfer, on her thoughts about dodgeball and This UCL Girl Can Week
Dodgeball is one of UCL’s fastest growing sports societies and has been running very successfully for 6 years. Having entered two teams (UCL Panthers A and UCL Panthers B) in the Women’s University League for the very first time ever, and having placed third in the league last year (the best result out of all our university teams!), these dodgeball girls are ready to show us exactly what they can do.
In the first league of the season, the Panthers were ready to pounce! They began by completely outshining the Portsmouth team with a victory of 19-5. It was clear to see that our girls had been practicing together for a while. Like a well oiled machine, they followed the instructions of Tamara Höfer, the team captain; lining up, pausing, and throwing with the grace of synchronised swimmers and the strength of shot put throwers. I’ll tell you now, I would not have liked to be on the receiving end of one of those throws! This strong team cohesion, smart strategising, and some beautiful catches-twice in a row by Jasmine Lu!- lead to Portsmouth’s defeat. They then continued in the same way by winning a 18-4 game against Southampton.
Our seconds team, even with one player down, fought hard and played two highly tense games without any hesitation. Despite their valiant effort, they narrowly lost them with a score of 13-11 to Winchester and 11-9 to UEA. However, with it being so early in their first season, they still have many opportunities to show us what they can do at full strength. Seeing their brilliant performance without a complete team, I’ve got a good feeling about these girls and I’d be very excited to see them again in the future.
I don’t know if it’s to do with the small size of the pitch or the small size of the team, but dodgeball is a team sport like no other. I’ve never seen such an encouraging atmosphere or attentiveness to teammates in a match before. When on the court, all the players were looking at the rest of the team, constantly staying alert and adapting tactics. Even when players were out, they were constantly shouting advice and motivating, ensuring that their fellow team mates were always supported.
This year the rules have changed from 3-ball to 5-ball dodgeball. This means the dynamics of the game have been completely altered and the Panthers need to adapt their tactics accordingly. But are they worried about these changes? Of course not! As always these girls are loving the challenge and ‘looking forward to an interesting season’. These women are working hard, playing hard, and showing everyone just what us UCL girls can do.
Tamara Höfer only took up dodgeball a year ago and played her first ever season with the UCL panthers. Since then, she has gotten the dodgeball bug, working her way up to become the captain of the first team, coach of the second team, and to also play for the London Storm dodgeball club. I asked her about her thoughts on playing dodgeball and the importance of This UCL Girl Can campaign:
What is your favourite part of Dodgeball?
What I personally love about dodgeball is that the dodgeball players are like a family. Despite being opponents on court, we are all supportive and helpful when it comes to improving our skills and interacting off court. I always feel at home at tournaments as they are always attended by so many amazing people.
What motivates you to do this every week and why do you think others don’t do the same?
What motivates me the most is my ambition to one day play for the Austrian Team in the World Cup. Their women’s team is currently the best in Europe and it would be an honour to represent the country I have grown up in on the international level. I think it is difficult to stay motivated if you don’t see yourself improving and don’t get positive feedback. Therefore, I ensure that my players always get a “personal highlights” message after tournaments and League Days.
What opportunities do you have at UCL as a woman in sport?
I think there are a lot of opportunities for women to get involved in sport at UCL. The This Girl Can week highlights many of the amazing initiatives that the Union’s clubs and societies come up with to promote sport amongst women. With dodgeball, I have had a lot of opportunities: for instance, this year, we have two women’s teams and thus more women playing competitive dodgeball at UCL this year than any other previously. It’s something I’m really proud of.
What is lacking at UCL, how could things be improved?
Dodgeball has still got a way to go before it is universally taken seriously as a sport. I think UCL could improve their support of the ‘underdog’ sports like ours by highlighting the achievements of other lesser known sports clubs more, and particularly the achievements of those women within them, to make them more open and accessible to everyone.
Why is this UCL Girl Can Week important?
A lot of people who are studying/teaching at UCL do not have any idea what great things the girls at UCL have achieved. This UCL Girl Can week can be motivational for other girls to achieve similar goals and stay active but also paves the way for more recognition of women in sports.
What has your favourite event been in your club?
It is very difficult to choose my favourite thing I have done with UCL dodgeball so far as we have just had so many amazing socials and other club events since I joined. I can say that my favourite dodgeball event was perhaps the Freshers Championships last season. It was a mixed tournament and my team took third place against competitors from across the country!
Featured Image Credit: T’arah Inam-McDermott