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Team Brightvale: a Bunch of Cheaters?


by elevendays

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ALTADOR CUP - When one thinks of Brightvale, words like knowledge, peace and stained-glass windows come to mind. But since the announcement of the teams that will be competing for the Altador Cup, a word that does not really seem to fit in with the others has come into the picture: cheating. While no one would have expected such an odd turn in events before team Brightvale became famous, or notorious rather, it now seems to be common knowledge that they tend to use questionable methods to win a match. Brightvale’s supporters tend to point out that no one has actually seen them cheat before, but the team’s description doesn’t seem to leave any room for error...

As I have always been quite fond of Brightvale and have thought of it as a very honourable Neopian world, I have to wonder: does the team truly cheat or have there simply been a few grave misunderstandings in the past, which still haunt them today?

The good thing about being a journalist is that I don’t just have to sit around and wonder, and an interview was easily set up. I purposely arrive a bit early at a stadium that is without a doubt Brightvale’s: I’m greeted by vivid dark green, white and yellow colours and the team’s logo is proudly plastered on flags, doors, walls, and, as I see when I finally arrive at the sidelines, even the field itself. Above the tall stands I can still see the highest towers of the illustrious Brightvale castle, a magnificent structure that seems to breathe wisdom and nobility, only a stone’s throw away from the stadium (well, for someone with a great throwing arm, I must admit). Surely this can’t be the training ground of a bunch of cheaters?

Also when I watch the last few minutes of the team’s practice session, I fail to notice anything suspicious. Is it all just a malicious bit of gossip after all? But don’t all stories hold a core of truth, albeit small? I decide to pay even closer attention as I walk towards the dressing room to meet the players.

“Good practice today,” Orie Dinelle, the goalkeeper, contentedly states as they enter the room, clapping her hands together. As I start to shake hands with the players, I wonder whether it really did take her a bit too long to pull her gloves apart again, or whether I’m just being too paranoid. After greeting the entire team, I make my way to the cafeteria, where I will have individual interviews with all the players. To the bare eye, there does not seem to be a dubious piece of metal lying among the slings that have been carelessly tossed onto a pile in the corner.

The first to join me at my table is “Squeaky” Tressif, the team’s left defender. After asking him some routine questions I could have asked any Yooyuball player, I have almost dismissed the idea that team Brightvale would ever cheat entirely. Tressif just appears to be an honest guy, who has developed a strong liking for the sport at a young age and has worked hard to get this far. When we finish our pleasant conversation, he takes a seat at the bar, where he is kindly offered a cup of tea by one of his team mates. However, as he makes a run for the nearest bathroom and Montecito quickly switches the sugar and salt back again, I seriously start to doubt my premature conclusion.

Orie Dinelle is next to join me. The talented goalkeeper turns out to be a charming young female, who has dreamed to play professionally ever since she first came in contact with the sport, like many athletes. When it’s starting to seem like this interview won’t give me any answers either, I finally ask what has been on my mind for a while now: “Doesn’t it bother you that all of Neopia is under the impression that you cheat?”

“Cheating is such a harsh word... ” Dinelle replies, randomly gesturing with her hands a bit. “I’d say it’s creative rule-bending.”

Taken aback slightly, I carefully continue: “But it’s true then? You do che-... I mean, creatively bend the rules?”

“Well, yeah, I guess... All teams use their country’s strong points, whether it’s strength or agility or something completely different. We simply use our intelligence.” It’s clear that Dinelle is trying to make it seem as logical as possible, and if it wasn’t for the tiny hint of guilt on her face, she would almost have been able to convince me.

“I don’t think everyone will understand that... Aren’t you afraid of getting disqualified?” I ask.

“I suppose, but we don’t want to lose,” she responds.

Before I can go on on this subject, it’s already time for my next interview and the team’s right forward, Reb Weemelott sits down in front of me. His height is far from intimidating, but his grin is just a bit too wide to still look innocent. Or is that my paranoia again? After quickly finding out that he wasn’t much different from Tressif when he started out, I decide to ask him about the team’s chances in the competition.

“I think Brightvale’s chances are fairly decent. Not ridiculously high, but we’re a strong team and we’ve devised some good tactics,” Weemelott tells me.

“Could you tell me something about these tactics?” I enquire, trying to keep myself from guessing what they might be.

“I’d rather not. I don’t think it would be a good idea to have all our strategies out in the open,” is his curt response.

“Because the Altador Cup Committee is not too fond of creative rule-bending?” I blurt out.

“No, because we do not want other teams to use them in their advantage,” he replies. His slight frown tells me that it would be a good idea to not go on about cheating.

“Do you think these tactics will enable you to win?”

“They might, but Squeaky over there,” he says, nodding to Tressif, who has returned to the bar to drink a large glass of water, “is not being too cooperative.”

“I see,” I mumble as Weemelott makes a place for Kayn Hireck, the left forward and one of my last interviews today. I decide to just get to the point. “Is it hard to be one of the league’s oldest players?”

“Well, you do notice that the younger players have a lot more energy, but I train a lot to get rid of that little difference. And being an older, more experienced player has its advantages as well. Besides, I can still tackle-” Hireck suddenly falls quiet for a moment. I take a short glance over my shoulder to see Weemelott quickly lower his hands and look the other way. “... I mean, pass and score as well as I used to,” Hireck continues.

I nod a bit, still finding it hard to believe that the team’s description is true after all. How could this have happened under such a noble reign? “Does King Hagan personally pick the team’s line-up?”

“No, he’s not much of an athlete himself, so he leaves it up to his sports advisor, also our coach,” Hireck replies.

I meet this so-called sports advisor only minutes later, when he interrupts my interview to tell me that the team’s flight to Altador is leaving early, and that they only have time for one more question, or two at most. Actually seeing this coach helps me piece together an answer to my question how this obvious cheating came to be, but when I ask him if he isn’t worried that people might see his bright red and blue outfit as a sign that he’s supporting another team than his own, that of his neighbouring country perhaps, he simply replies that the colours bring out his eyes. He doesn’t really seem too concerned with the fact that his team is risking getting disqualified either... Too soon to jump to conclusions? Perhaps, but it’s suspicious at least.

I choose to spend my final question on Montecito, as I haven’t been able to interview him, but he refuses to let anything out about his nickname, the Baby Faced Mauler. I watch the team leave and slowly come to the upsetting realization that there’s no possible doubt that the Brightvalians’ play is at least a bit crooked. Will this ruin the team’s chances in the tournament? I’m afraid we’ll have to wait and see.

 
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