Good Timezone HIH world! I have recently been given the pleasure to talk to you about a sport we all know from the Harry Potter series, Quidditch! Now, one thing you will quickly learn when getting involved in real-world Quidditch is that it is very inclusive. While, yes, there will be many people like myself who are total Harry Potter geeks, Potterheads if you will; there are also many people who have never even heard of Harry Potter! Getting your start in the Quidditch community, you will discover a world full of people of all shapes, sizes, interests and gender identity. That is one of the best things about Quidditch! You play as whichever gender you identify as, even if it is a non-binary gender (anything other than Male or Female), it is classified not as a co-ed sport but as a mixed-gender sport.
But enough about just how inclusive this wonderful sport is! You are probably wondering, How does a sport written to be played on broomstick hundreds of feet in the air translate to the real world where we , obviously, cannot fly?
The Quidditch Pitch
First things first, Quidditch does indeed have seven players the same as in the book’s version. Also, just like in the fictional sport, in Real World Quidditch you must remain mounted on your broomstick at all times. This means that the broomstick must between your legs and touching you in some way. If you become dismounted at any time (fall off, get hit by a bludger, by Ref order etc) you must run back to your team's hoops and touch them, with your hand, in order to remount and rejoin play. How we differentiate between positions is as follows:
Chasers - Three playerswear a White headband to, of course, pass, shoot and score through any of the three hoops. You can score from the front or the back, and get your team 10 points per goal.
Keeper - One player per team wears a Green headband. Now while the keeper’s job, of course, is to defend the hoops. They have also come to be known as, essentially, a “Chaser with super powers”. What this refers to is that, while Chasers can indeed put their hand through a hoop to score, only a Keeper can put their hand through a hoop to defend. In addition to this handy ability, Keeper’s are also immune from being “beat” by a bludger while behind their Keeper zone line. (see diagram).
Quaffle (1) - The Keeper and the three chaser’s are the only players that can interact directly with the Quaffle (In the real game this looks like a partly deflated volleyball).
Deflection - Fun fact, a Quaffle player may use the Quaffle to deflect an incoming bludger being thrown at them. However, caution must be exercised as if any part of the bludger contacts the player's hand/arm etc holding the Quaffle it is the same as being beat.
Beaters - The next position is comprised of two players wearing Black headbands. The beaters, while they do not carry bat’s, are responsible for handling one of three bludgers. They use the bludgers to attempt to knock opposing players out of the game temporarily.
Bludgers (3) - Now, in Quidditch for real, there are three partly deflated dodgeballs on the field that we call Bludgers. If a player is hit by a bludger, and by hit I mean in any way as your hair, broom, clothing, arm, leg, head etc all counts, they must dismount their broom and run back and touch, with their hand, one of their teams hoops before they may get back into play. Only Beaters may interact with these balls, except in the case of using a quaffle to deflect an incoming bludger.
Beater Immunity - An interesting tidbit, because there are three bludgers and two beaters per team each team will always have at least one bludger. If, for some reason, one team has two bludgers (one per beater, you cannot hold two balls at once) and the other team has none. One beater can put a fist in the air to claim immunity from being beat in order to retrieve the third bludger.
Seeker - Again, One player from each team will play as the seeker. This player wears a Yellow headband and is released at, 18:00 (18 minutes) into the game with the Snitch being released at 17:00 (17 minutes). This player is possibly the most restricted as to who they can contact as there is only one other player playing with the same ball as them. (Brief contact rules below).
Snitch (1) - I know what you are thinking. How exactly was a small, golden ball that flies around at high speeds incorporated into the real version? Well, as there is currently no technology that can replicate this little ball without potential harm to players. The snitch in the real game is a person who wears bright yellow shorts that have a tennis ball in a sock attached to the back of them. The seeker’s goal is to pull the tail, and only the tail, to detach it from the Snitch Runner's Shorts. When caught, the snitch is worth 30 Points (opposed to the exorbitant 150 in the fictional game) and of course ends the game. However, this sounds easier than it is because while the players must remain on their broomstick at all times; the snitch runner does not ride a broom. This “human ball” is also allowed to do almost anything to keep from being caught. They can push the seekers over, pull their broom from between their legs, run away anything. There are of course some handicaps after certain lengths of time out, but we will discuss that in a later article.
As you may have guessed, Quidditch is a full-contact sport, although there are development level teams that play a lower amount of contact where you cannot actually take a player right to the ground. However, in general, being a sport that mixes aspects from several other sports into one (Rugby, dodgeball, flag football and numerous others) it is classified as full contact so playing, you will be tackled and/or one arm wrapped. However, the catch being, you can only contact players playing with the same ball as you; so chasers and keepers with chasers and keepers, beaters to beaters and the seekers against one another - Seekers themselves can basically only stiff arm and shove each other. The only contact they can make on the snitch is to stiff arm and knock arms away in attempt to catch the tail.
Now that you have had a chance to read about how to play quidditch, Here is an amazing video by UBC Quidditch in British Columbia, Canada and from UCLA Quidditch that explains, and shows, just how to play.
I Bet many of you are wondering how you find a team in your area. Well, Here is a list of the various countries websites associated with the IQA (International Quidditch Association). Each of these individual web pages and Facebook pages will either have links directly to teams across the country in question, or the ability to ask someone about the local teams.
United States There are a few events on the horizon that will be talked about in detail in future articles. These include: Canadian (April 2017), Australian (December 2016), and Dutch (January 2017) National cups/Championships. The Summer Games in Brazil in January 2017, the British Northern Cup, as well as a coaching session in December. The German Winter Games (January 2017) where teams will have the opportunity to gain experiance in a tournament style setting. While also determining which teams qualify for the European Games later in the year. Finally the US Quidditch cup in April 2017.