Pisces 6, 2078, m249
Before the start of the inaugural season, MAFL Commissioner Aiger Masing gave each team the task of chronicling their experiences over the 21 week season. Each team was given the liberty to record their stories in the format of their choice. This series shares some of the excerpts from these chronicles. In this edition, we begin with the Champions, the Marineris Comets. The Comets documented their season with weekly post-game interviews.
The following is the last Q&A interview they made the week following their championship victory on Kumbha 17. It features Manager Gordan J. Pryce, Captain Liddell Bradley, Stephen Liu, Samantha Park, and Zaida Agre.
How does it feel being the MAFL Champions?
Bradley: It’s a phenomenal experience. The championship has given the entire colony an enormous boost of energy that you can feel everywhere you go. We were the first colony on Mars and now we’re also the first MAFL champion – that can never be taken away from us.
PRYCE: The reality of it all still amazes me. Honest truth is if you had told me we would be champs before the start of the season, I’d tell you, your oxygen supply must be a bit low. In an unproven game with rookie clubs and no precedence, no one knew what the outcome would be.
When in the season did you start to think, we could really win the whole thing?
PRYCE: Well, you have to remember, we were a .500 team for the first third of the season. We’d win one lose one, win one, lose one, we had no momentum in the beginning.
BRADLEY: It was around Week 9, when we went on this fantastic run winning our next 5 games. That was the first time I let myself think, hmmm, maybe we have a shot at the whole thing. Then the Titans come into our house and beat us in Week 14 – our 2nd loss to them that season! So long as they were around, there was doubt in our minds.
LIU: It’s easy for me to say now but those doubts started to disappear for me when we outgunned Al’amal 7-3 in the Semi-Finals. That was when I started believing we would win the whole thing, even with the Titans awaiting us in the Finals.
The Titans were clearly your biggest opponent. How did you really feel about Ware’s infamous, “We Own them” comment?
LIU: I wanted to throttle her!
PARK: That type of braggadocio I expected from her teammate Readale Nash.
AGRE: As the only Woman captain in the league, Raenia is someone I look up to. She carried herself with class all season, so it was really disappointing. The timing couldn't have been worse considering what the league was going through.
BRADLEY: I called her once I heard the comment. “You’re better than this”, I told her, and to her credit, she apologize.
PRYCE: It wasn't a good display for her, but in many ways, it motivated us through the playoffs. That little comment may have made the ultimate difference.
Were the Titans the biggest obstacle in your championship run?
PRYCE: I’d say we had three big obstacles. Early on, it was our lack of consistency, searching for our team identity. Mid-way, we released it was the Titans who would be the team to beat so what do we do. Later on, it was Yamen’s death that really took a tole – overcoming was probably our biggest obstacle.
Tell me about Warren’s tragic death?
AGRE: Devastating. He was part of our little family… it was just so surreal and so sudden… we prepared all season for all types of scenarios, but there was no way to prepare for what happened.
BRADLEY: It’s never a good time for these kind of thing to happen, but with just one match before the start of the playoffs? A number of us were still in therapy that week leading up to our final regular season match with the Titans, which we lost. Somehow were were able to channel the grief into winning and doing it in Yamen's memory made it that much more meaningful.
Any truth to the mid-season rumour you were close to bidding for Darkeem Dennis?
LIU: I think Gordan should answer that question.
PRYCE: Nice defence, Stephen. Full disclosure, we were really considering acquiring him from Dong Ji. Credit to our Chair, Elizabeth Foster, who was ready to pull the trigger, but we didn’t for a few reasons. First, even though I like Darkeem, I was concerned about his game breaking ability as he hadn’t scored in 7 matches. Second, Europa was desperate and we weren't interested enough to engage in a bidding war... because we would have won. Ultimately, Marysa Waaijer was a better fit.
BRADLEY: At the time, I thought we blew it and I let Gordan know that.
PRYCE: You weren't shy about that. One thing is for sure, neither Dennis or Europa got what they needed from that transaction. And clearly, things worked out alright for us.
Going back to the very beginning, what was it like playing Football on Mars?
PARK: If you mean the first time playing outdoors, it was weird. The equipment made it awkward and unnatural.
AGRE: The first time I had to face one of those boosted shots was an eye opener.
LIU: Eventually around the 3rd week, it just felt right to me, like we were just playing football.
What’s next for the Comets?
PARK: See my loved ones. You'd be amazed with road trips and training how little time you spend with your family.
PRYCE: Well enjoy it wile you can, we'll start practicing next month.
BRADLEY: Come on, Coach!
PRYCE: A championship just doesn’t defend itself. But, I guess we can make it a month and a half.
Next in the series, we will look at the Titans and what might have contributed to their undoing.