First Quidditch tournament to get sport off the ground

From left, Enrica Biasi, Ashley Cooper and James Burnett. Picture: OX62775 Ed Nix

From left, Enrica Biasi, Ashley Cooper and James Burnett. Picture: OX62775 Ed Nix Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

IT was created by JK Rowling for a world of wizards on broomsticks. But an Oxford Quidditch team wants the sport to be recognised in its own right. Next month, the city will host the first British Quidditch Cup tournament – the game played by the young wizard in the Harry Potter books.

In the book, players on broomsticks race to catch a ball called a snitch.

The ground-based game is more comparable to a mix between rugby and dodgeball.

The tournament at University Parks on November 9 and 10 is hosted by University team The Radcliffe Chimeras.

Team spokesman Matthew Western said the sport had evolved from the game played in the books.

He said: “We are not the negative stereotype of the Quidditch player trying to re-enact the books. We have adapted it.

He said Quidditch was a contact sport and kept players fit.

Ashley Cooper, 21 and a fourth-year medical student, said the sport was now moving away from the books. He said: “We have members of the Oxford team who aren’t Harry Potter fans. Some have not read the books.”

Next month’s tournament will see 16 teams compete from as far as Scotland and Wales.

Mr Western, a second-year music student, said: “It is a really exciting moment for the development of the sport.”

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And he said he hoped the inaugural event would become more popular, adding: “Once it is sufficiently established, we hope more teams will be able to make it.”

Seven players form a Quidditch team but Oxford University has up to 20 players.

Mr Western, a keeper for the University’s second team, the Quidlings, urged people to come and watch.

There are more than 300 Quidditch teams globally, according to the International Quidditch Association.

Last year, teams from the US and Australia came to Cutteslowe Park as part of the city’s Olympic Torch celebrations.

The tournament, organised by governing body the International Quidditch Association, took place in July.

Mark Lygo, Oxford City Council board member for sport and leisure, yesterday welcomed the tournament.

He said: “After the success of last year’s Quidditch tournament, it is fantastic news to hear that Oxford students are taking part in the British Quidditch Cup.”

FACTFILE

  • In JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Quidditch is played by wizards flying around an arena on broomsticks chasing a fast-moving ball known as the snitch.
  • In Oxford, the game is played by seven players who have to keep a broomstick between their legs at all time. s ‘Chasers’ try to score with the ‘Quaffle’, whilst avoiding dodgeballs and tackles thrown by the opposing team.
  • Meanwhile, two ‘Seekers’ hunt for the “Snitch” – a tennis ball carried and defended by a player.

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