In this installment of our internation interview series, we asked an iconic athlete of dodgeball, Anthony Aldred, about his beginnings, tournaments and favourite moments.
* Can you give us a bit of a background of your Dodgeball playing career? When did you start playing dodgeball?
– I started playing dodgeball in 2013 after I graduated from university. My flat mate at the time invited me along and I’ve been playing ever since. Since then I’ve gone on to play as part of the Granite City Guerrillas men’s team winning quite a few competitions and league titles in Scotland and also getting the opportunity to play in England at open events and the British Championships. In 2017 I made the Scotland Highlanders Men’s team and took part in the Six Nations where the team came away with a gold medal. I’ve also represented Scotland at the European Championships in 2017,2018 and 2019 along with the Northern European Championships in 2018.
* What inspired you to start playing dodgeball?
– I was less inspired and more intrigued about it. My flat mate had been trying to get me to go for a while but I was too busy finishing off my degree to get involved. Once I graduated I went along with him and a few others. I hated my first session, but everyone seemed to enjoy it so I went back. I’m glad I did as I absolutely love it.
* Do you remember your first time on the court?
– Not in great detail, but I remember being targeted early on in most games because I was the new guy. It probably didn’t help I was wearing blue and everyone else was wearing a black Granite City Guerrillas vest so I stood out ALOT.
* Your most beautiful moment in your career?
– Winning the bronze medal at the Euros in Italy 2018. The atmosphere of that event was amazing along with the setup and I truly felt like I had contributed in a positive way to achieving that medal.
* Best event you played at?
– I’d have to say the 2018 Euros in Italy. I think having all the teams in such close proximity really made the social side and after party amazing! I got to speak to people I hadn’t before each night which has set it aside from other events. I won’t miss queuing for breakfast, lunch and dinner though
* What are you most important achievements so far on a national and club level?
– At club level our highest achievement is either the Scottish Championship or Scottish league. They are pretty similar with only a few clubs for the league but a few extra teams for the championship. Unfortunately Scotland doesn’t have a huge amount of clubs but we are hoping these events become more competitive in the future as other cities and towns get teams and the sport grows in our country. Nationally my highest achievement is a gold medal as part of the Scotland men’s team at the UKDBA Six Nations event in Liverpool 2016. But I’m more proud of the Bronze medal from the 2018 European Championships.
* How do you prepare before tournaments?
– In the lead up to a tournament it’s all about team practice for me. You need to become a tight unit and look after each other on court. So I’d want as much game time with my team.In the moments before a game I’m probably getting a quick snack or going for multiple nervous toilet stops though
* How many times do you play a week?
– Normally it’s between 2-3 times a week depending on what training or events are happening. It’s a mixture of open sessions, team sessions and international training along with competitions.
* Any tips you can lend to aspiring dodgeball players?
– Find your strength and focus on that to start with. If you try and learn or focus on too many things you won’t see much progress and get a bit disheartened. Plus if you have one great skill It will give you something to fall back on in a game and you can kind of direct play towards your strength. Focusing on one thing also allows you to break things down into tiny parts.
Tom Brady or Lebron James Lebron. I played basketball when I was younger and although I don’t keep up to date with it now, I’m definitely more interested in what’s going on there than American football. Coldplay or Ed Sheeran Neither! They are both terrible. Gran Tourismo 5 or Carcassone Gran Tourismo 5. Only because I grew up playing the Gran Tourismo games, Need for Speed Underground is where it’s at though. The Mandalorian or The Queen’s Gambit The Mandalorian… but only because of the memes! I haven’t watched either. Dog or Cat Dogs! I love dogs. Plus I’ve got a dog and do t think I’d ever own a cat. Chicago Pizza or Big Mac Pizza! Lots of options and great hot or cold. Tomato or Chilli Tomato, I’m not good with spicy foods. Bora Bora or Kathmandu Bora Bora, I’d just love to relax next to those crystal clear waters. Rangers or Celtics Boston Celtics… because basketball. Neither if you mean the football teams here in Scotland. I have to support my local team of Aberdeen for that…. MON IH DONS! Cloth or foam ball Cloth. It’s what I know and have played the most, but I’m keen to try foam. I just wish the rules were consistent across all the ball types for ease.
* Which team or nation is your favorite opponent?
– Sweden. They are such a fun team to be around and the last time we played them at the Euros in 2019 it was such a close game. So close and action packed but also super friendly and fair. It ended in a draw and I don’t think anyone was disappointed by that. They have improved hugely since I first saw them but still bring a fun aspect to the game.
* Who is your best dodgeball player?
– I don’t think there is one player that stands out above everyone else as ‘the best player’ for me. That’s not to say I don’t think players are great , there are a lot of players I admire. I just think I’d be doing players a disservice if I named just one person. There are definitely a lot of quieter players that are going a bit unnoticed because of bigger personalities too.
* You have built up an amazing collection of sports jerseys! Just how many do you own?
– I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s in the region of 200 dodgeball shirts now. But that’s continuing to grow and it’s definitely something that’s snowballed as the Instagram account has grown. But I’m still enjoying speaking with everyone along the way and swapping my way to new and exciting shirts/teams.
* Do you remember which one was the first you got?
– The first shirt outside of the club I play for was the Malaysian WDA 2016 Home shirt made by Ozz Vampo. It’s yellow and black tiger stripe and mandarin collar had me hooked, so I just had to get one. It took a while to get here so I might have received a different jersey before it, but it was definitely worth the wait. It was great to learn about all the other teams playing at the time too and Malaysia definitely set themselves apart as looking super professional in their photos and social media.
* We had a year which foiled many things. We barely had any Dodgeball tournaments, for example. What would be your most important takeaway of 2020?
– To have fun and enjoy dodgeball when we get back to playing. Let’s enjoy the game, enjoy the sport and enjoy being surrounded by our friends. It’s why we play.
* Finally, what advice do you have for those who are just being introduced to this wonderful game? Why play dodgeball?
– Play dodgeball because it’s fun and you can meet some amazing people from different places in the world. It’s also a very inclusive and supportive sport too and one you can play at all levels depending on what’s important to you and continue to play into old age.