Meet the new sport taking over universities: quidditch

Every wanted to feel the wind blowing through your hair on top of a broomstick? This is the closest thing you’ll get to that, ya cheeky muggle

The Tab interviewed the illustrious quidditch society in St Andrews for insight into one of the fastest growing sports in the entire university. The society, called St Andrews Snidgets, has a community of over 70 members who all come together to play the magical game (this time we aren’t talking about football). The sport is largely aerobic, with members communicating as a team and playing a muggle-modified version of the game created in the Harry Potter series. The three hoops are guarded by a keeper, with chasers aiming to score with a ball known as the quaffle. The most unusual part of the game is that ‘broomsticks’ are ridden, usually plastic tubing placed between legs to simulate the wood alternative. Matt O’Connor, one of the vice-captains, kindly answered our questions that we were burning to know about the sport.

The current team

How many members are there in the society?

In the wider Harry Potter society I’m not entirely sure. A fair number though. As for the quidditch team it’s about 30 people currently

How did it begin?

Worldwide it was invented at Middlebury College over in the States in 2005. In St Andrews it began when a former student called Cory Faniel, who was a massive Harry Potter fan and even ran his own fansite, “La Gazette du Sorcier”, decided it would be fun and gathered a group of like-minded individuals in late 2012. People have been enjoying it ever since. St Andrews have been involved in the British quidditch scene almost from its inception, attending the first multi-team tournament in March 2013

What do you like most about Quidditch?

Honestly, it’s the people that really make quidditch. The atmosphere and camaraderie is very different from other sports I’ve played. You make really close friends, like in any sport, and there’s a lot of stick flying about within the club, but it doesn’t feel as hostile as certain sports can be. It’s a very accepting place where people are free to be themselves and smash seven bells out of each other at the same time.

Occasionally you get some interested/wow that’s different looks, but has anyone ever been hostile towards the group?

Hostility is actually quite low. You get the odd person coming across asking if you really fly, or if the ginger members of the team think they’re Ron Weasley, but most of the time it’s meant in humour and you just laugh it off. That’s not to say we’ve not had our share of abuse from idiots hanging out of cars, but it’s much more infrequent than you’d expect.

Do you feel like St Andrews generally supports Quidditch?

I think we get overall good coverage from the media. Every piece that’s been done has been good, so long as you stay out of the comments, and lots of people seem very interested, but as far as support goes it’s more a live and let live situation. No one’s actively helping us on a day to day basis outside the society, but at the same time, we don’t have anyone trying to do us down.

We’ve heard you’re very successful, what’s next for the team?

I wish this were the case, but we’ve not been successful for some time now, and failed to make the top 32 teams in the country who attended the British Quidditch Cup a few weeks back. Next on our list is a trip to Oxford for Development Cup, which is for the smaller teams who didn’t quite make the main event, as well as some second teams from the big sides. We’re hoping to put in a more improved performance from regionals and build towards making next year’s BQC, hopefully showing that being both small AND far away isn’t gonna stop us.

Do a lot of your social events revolve around Harry Potter?

I’d say there’s a good mix. Yeah, we do have Harry Potter themed events occasionally, but at the same time, we’re not super obsessed fanatics. The current captain isn’t even a HP fan, so you’re more likely to find us holding a pint at karaoke on a Friday night than you are huddled round a telly watching The Philosopher’s Stone for the 800th time

Finally, what can Quidditch offer students and what would your advice be to a person considering joining?

Quidditch can offer a massive amount to anyone. It’s tough, and requires a lot of fitness to really compete at the top level, and is full contact, so not for the faint-hearted, but it’s the friendliest group of people I know, it’s the most accepting group of people I know, and in the 4 years I’ve been playing, I’ve seen tiny nerds who have never played a sport in their life go to taking down some of the biggest folk on the field. Like any sport, you get into it what you put out, but there’s a lot to be gained from the effort

My advice to anyone wanting to start is to come to a training session and to see what it’s like for yourself. Or you could bring a pair of studs/trainers and some athletic clothes and dive right in. That’s what I did 4 years ago, and I never looked back.

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