Quidditch is the best sport to play at uni, you just don’t realise it yet
No, we don’t fly. Yes, we have broomsticks. Yes, it’s a proper sport. Quidditch may be inspired by Harry Potter but when I play quidditch, the boy wizard doesn’t even cross my mind. The only things I can think about when I play are: “Where’s the snitch gone?” “Where’s that quaffle?” “Do we have bludger control?”
The easiest way I can describe quidditch is a mix of rugby, dodge-ball and football, among other things. It’s a full contact, mixed gender sport – the only one of its kind in the world.
There are four positions: Chasers, who focus on quaffle play. Keepers act as a secondary chaser and guard the hoops. Beaters throw bludgers to incur the knockout effect and disrupt quaffle play. Seekers catch the snitch. If you’ve read Harry Potter then so far, so familiar.
As in the books we also use brooms. If we didn’t have brooms, it wouldn’t be quidditch. The brooms act as our handicap – something every sport has. In rugby, it seems counter-productive players can’t throw the ball forwards, in netball, it doesn’t make sense you can’t move with the ball. Quidditch seems awkward because the brooms get in the way but that’s the point. Every sport needs a handicap, ours just stands out more than others.
We even have a national body. Quidditch UK was set up to run quidditch across the country, organising tournaments, overseeing the development of referees and generally keeps things in order with regards to the sport we love. Just recently, Quidditch UK was made a member of the Sports and Recreational Alliance – an organisation which will promote quidditch and bring Quidditch UK together with other organisations such as Athletics UK and Commonwealth Games England. Quidditch could even make it to the Commonwealth Games.
We’re not the only university with a team. At the 2015 British Quidditch Cup (yes, it’s a thing) more than thirty teams participated in the fight to become the British Quidditch Champions – a title which ultimately went to the University of Southampton – with Warwick coming a proud fifteenth place. As a team, we had only been playing together for about six months so to be the fifteenth best team in the country was incredible. Another six months on, we’re now ranked about eighth in the country.
It’s not just a national sport either, quidditch is played across the world. In 2015 the first ever European Games were held in Sarteano, Italy, where the UK took second place to France. 2016 will see the Quidditch World Cup take place, where the UK will once again battle it out against the likes of the US, Canada and even Australia.
People have asked whether it’s scary for women playing against men in mixed gender contact sport. Of course not. Quidditch fully backs the “This Girl Can” campaign, which encourages girls to take part in sports. Yes, I get hurt (a lot) but it’s a full contact sport, what do you expect?
I know exactly what I’m getting myself into when I play, and it’s always fun counting bruises after practice in the mud. If anything, playing against men makes it more exciting – I can outrun a number of them on pitch, tactically I can be better than them and playing against men simply makes me a better player. It challenges me and makes me push myself to match their standard of play.
The quidditch community isn’t like other sports societies I’ve participated in. I used to play netball and was on the cross-country team at school but I’ve never felt like part of such an inclusive, welcoming community. Cliques do not exist in quidditch – if you play, you are part of the community.
We don’t take everything seriously – quidditch is ultimately a sport at the end of the day, and we play it because it’s something we love. There are a huge number of fun, fantasy tournaments which run every year and still demand competitive play, but maybe less so than the British Quidditch Cup.
So don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Find your local team and give it a go before you pass judgement. Warwick are hosting the Quidditch Christmas Cup this year at War Memorial Park in Coventry. Maybe you should come down and see what all the fuss is about.