On a chilly autumnal afternoon in Hyde Park, magic was in the air as the Leeds University Quidditch and Harry Potter Society met to practise and to prove you don’t have to be a student at Hogwarts to have a go the sport.
A cheerful group of fans of the series met and set up their equipment; with Quaffle-throwing smooth as Butterbeer and a Seeker with reflexes as sharp as Gryffindor’s sword, Leeds’ homegrown Quidditch team looked menacing to any brave opponents.
To anyone who is not familiar with the Harry Potter franchise, the sight of a dozen students charging around in the mud, broomsticks between their legs, hurling netballs through hoops on sticks would have been baffling, so perhaps some explanation is due.
The sport began being played following JK Rowling’s books rose to fame. In its original, fictitious capacity involves seven players on each side, with the intertwining plots of three ‘chasers’ trying to throw a ball through any of three hoops, while two others with bats, ‘beaters, hit bludgers at everyone else. The game however comes down to the ‘seeker’, who chases the elusive golden snitch.
In what fans of the Harry Potter series would refer to as the ‘‘Muggle world’, there are several differences. The game is restricted to the ground, unsurprisingly, with each player holding a broom in one hand between their legs. A netball is passed around with the aim of scoring into the hoops past the keeper.
The beaters throw large tennis balls at their competitors to try and put them off scoring, while the snitch takes on a human guise: one person runs around the area of the game trying to elude capture, with a tennis ball in a sock tucked into their waistband, which the seekers of each team aim to grab.
‘Muggle Quidditch’ was created in 2005 at Middlebury College, Vermont. There is now an International Quidditch Association that holds World Cups every two years, the inaugural tournament played between just two teams in 2007. It now contains over 100 teams composed of colleges and high schools across the USA, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
For anyone interested in getting involved with Quidditch and joining in with their practise sessions and matches, as well as the chance for Harry Potter-themed socials you can follow the Quidditch and Harry Potter Society on Twitter @LeedsUniHP or find them on Facebook.
Author: Freddie Mickshik