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Roo Island: The Champion Rookies

by dgj377


ROO ISLAND - Months have passed since the closing ceremonies have finally ended for the Altador Cup and some people are still thinking about it. Some were pleased by the results, some were not so happy about it. But one thing is for sure; nothing shook the Altador Cup up more than the up and coming team of Roo Island placing among the top four in the final standings. Many people think smaller nations such as Roo Island don't have much of a chance making past the first round because their support is not as big as the larger nations; the fact that most of Roo Island's team were composed of newcomers into the professionals didn't help either. But each and every one of the players showed this year that they all have raw talent and the potential to become the next generation of all-stars.

Though each team member was vital to Roo Island's strategy, it cannot be denied that Lilo Blumario was clearly the backbone of the team. From humble beginnings, he started playing Yooyuball far back in his youth. Years later, he left Roo Island after becoming a professional player only to return to his homeland once the tournament came up.

"I only played for fun at first, like everyone else on Roo Island does," he said in a post-tournament interview back on his home island. "But it turned out I had a natural talent for it that just kept growing. I beat all the other kids single-handedly. I never let it get to my head though, after all, we were only playing for fun. I didn't really want to leave my home when I decided to go pro, I wanted to spend my first few years as a professional right under my home team. But I wasn't just playing only for fun anymore; Roo Island needed someone with more than just talent. So I set out and became a freelance player in order to hone my skills. I went all over Neopia playing for many different teams, both major and minor. I took note to learn about each team's technique and their strategy. Sure I was a big success, sure I made a lot of NP, but I didn't become freelance to spread my fame, I did it so I could learn and improve new skills. And it worked too, I've perfected so many different plays I never could have done back home. When I heard about the Yooyuball tournament, I knew it was time to come back. Then when I went before King Roo (he owns the team, by the way), he immediately approved a contract for me and placed me as team captain. It was a lot of pressure having been away from home for so long, I tell you, but my new teammates/friends kept my spirits up as I did theirs."

Of course, because of the team's slip-up during the semi-finals, Lilo Blumario lost his chance of winning the MVP award. But when asked about it, he simply laughed.

"Disappointed? Nah. It just tells me I can improve even further. I may be one of the best players alive today, but I'm not THE best. Besides, we already had more than our share of victories having come as far as the semi-finals. And furthermore, we had fun all the way. What better way to end our run at the cup than what we all went through together?"

Of course, Roo Island isn't just a one-trick wonder. The four rookies assisting Lilo actually made most of the goals.

Fenny Vail of the four not only holds the most improved player award, but is also holds the record of the youngest player to ever go professional in Yooyuball.

"It's really a huge honor," she says. "To be honest, I never really thought I would bring the team so much glory."

Having been a long time fan of Roo Island, this young Usul jumped at the chance when she was unexpectedly offered a spot on an empty position of the new team lineup by King Roo himself after winning a little league mini-tournament on the island. Being only into the first year of her first contract, she has made plenty of mistakes during the season.

"I'm pretty sure I'll remain a defender next year, even if I have been the one to improve most. To be honest, it's really Dayla that has the most raw talent."

Fenny speaks the truth. Though she didn't win Rookie of the Year for the tournament, Dayla is by far the quickest and most nimble first-timer to ever step onto a professional field. During all her years in Neoschool, she was captain of the track team. She won her school team over 50 track medals during her education. Needless to say, after she recently graduated, Dayla's talents at running were noticed by talent scouts and she was immediately added to Roo Island's Yooyuball team roster.

"It was really exhilarating and unexpected," she said. "One minute I'm taking my morning jog, the next thing I know I'm standing right before King Roo and his Yooyuball officials. I simply liked to run. I never thought I would be using my legs to win anything other than track meets. Of course, I wasn't exactly the most dexterous passer in the world. Being that running was my only strength, I can agree with the committee why I didn't win Rookie of the Year."

Of course, Roo Island's team has critics just like any other team. Many of the critics focus on Clutch Billaban, the team's goalkeeper. Clutch has had slightly more experience than Fenny and Dayla, but his performance compared to them has a widening gap. Many critics call Clutch the shakiest goalkeeper in the league.

"It's not that I'm no good, it's just that I'm a bit indecisive and my mind needs time to warm up," he says. "My reflexes are best at mid-game, not after warm-up. Even then, when I look at the ball coming towards me and hear the roar of the crowd at the same time, it gets hard to concentrate."

Clutch is currently facing a long road up till next year's tournament. Many Neopians say that Roo Island could have gone all the way if they only had a better goalkeeper.

"I know what they're saying behind my back, it happens to every team. The fans always try to find a weak link to the chain just so they can have someone to blame when the team loses. Let me tell you, I'm really not willing to let them get the satisfaction they want. So I'm not as good as most of the other goalies, big deal! That doesn't mean I'll stay that way. I'm going to be going through extensive mental training as well as physical come the next season so I can keep my mind in the game. Go on and let them ridicule me all they want, but I WILL show them and all of Neopia that Roo Island DIDN'T lose because of ME, and that I am NOT a weak link!"

The last of the four that backs their captain is the proud defender, Gordo Gunnels. Next to Lilo, Gordo is the most experienced player on the team. Despite his overall gruff appearance, Gordo is actually a very sensitive and astute Grarrl that plays strategically to his strengths. His most famous ability on the field is his uncanny way of finding and hitting a player's blind spot.

"I'm not one to brag, but I am one of the best defenders of the league despite my *ahem* short time of experience. I just was never good at scoring goals. So I simply focused my talents to what I was good at, blocking. I noticed during a practice session one day that Dayla hadn't noticed I was positioned behind her when she was making a pass, making it easy for me to block her. I then wondered if all Neopets had a blind area they were vulnerable at. I took my time off from practice to study the autonomy of every Neopet in the library. I then cross-referenced information to Battledome players and strategies. I now know where each blind spot for each player is exactly. I even know my own blind spot, right here at- oops, I'm not disclosing that information."

Gordo has proved that knowledge of your opponent can overcome zeal alone. Though he failed to back Clutch up during the semi-finals, he has confidence in the upcoming post-seasons. "That's the thing with new, young teams like these; you can only get better in the passing months. We made to the top four with our grit alone this time, now try thinking how far we'll go with another year of experience under our belt."

And there you have it, all the key players with their own back-story, weaknesses, and strengths. Together, they make up one of the best gaggle of up and coming Yooyuball superstars. With all five players still young and high spirited, this humble team will rise up to be one of the favorites to win the Altador Cup in the following years to come.

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