With 20,000 players taking part in the fictional sport from the Harry Potter books, organisers announce a league pitting teams including the London Monarchs and the Yorkshire Roses
Dreamed up by JK Rowling, quidditch is played in the Harry Potter novels by characters who fly through the air on broomsticks. In its real-world equivalent, players hold a broom between their legs as they run around the pitch. Invented by two students in Vermont in 2005, it is now played by 20,000 players in 25 countries, some of which have lively university and college leagues. There is also a biannual Quidditch World Cup, most recently won by Australia in July.
As in the novels, there are seven players per team on the field at a time: a keeper, who guards the hoops, three chasers, who try to throw a “quaffle” (a semi-deflated volleyball) through the hoops to score goals, two beaters, who throw “bludgers” (dodgeballs) at the opposing team, and one seeker, who attempts to catch the “snitch”. In the novels, the snitch is a flying golden ball; in reality, it is a sock with a tennis ball in it, attached to the snitch runner’s shorts.
The UK Quidditch Premier League will run from May to August. Eight teams will compete for the title of national quidditch champion and include the London Monarchs, the Eastern Mermaids, the Yorkshire Roses and the West Midland Shredders.
Tom Newton, one of the organisers, said that each team represents a region of England and is named in reference to an element of the local culture. The lineup is completed by Southwest Broadside, Southeast Knights, Northern Watch and the East Midland Archers.
“The Quidditch Premier League is such an exciting opportunity and development,” said director Jack Lennard. “It’s an opportunity for the sport to grow and gain prestige. It’s an opportunity for players to compete at the highest level. And, most importantly, it’s an opportunity for more people in more places to find out about this incredible sport.”
According to organisers of the UK’s Quidditch Premier League, it is the world’s most progressive sport for gender inclusivity, because there can be a maximum of only four players of the same gender per team on the pitch at any time.
First published on www.theguardian.com, 15 November 2016. Written by Alison Flood