Quidditch takes off: turning a fictional game into a real sport
University of Leicester students will travel to Keele next month to compete in Muggle Quidditch - the real life version of the fictional sport featured in JK Rowling's famous Harry Potter novels. The game, against rivals Keele University, will be the first inter-university game in the UK played to the official International Quidditch Association (IQA) rulebook.
The University of Leicester's Muggle Quidditch club was formed by Jack Hill, a second year Ancient History and History student, after he read about the sport being played by other UK students.
Muggle Quidditch was invented in the United States, where it is already hugely popular, and the sport is gaining momentum in the UK and Europe. Although casual matches have been played in the UK before, the Leicester vs. Keele encounter represents a step towards the more serious rankings and competitive games played by American universities.
Jack Hill said: "I formed the Quidditch club because Leicester didn't have one, and it's something that's really taking off in Unis around the UK. We've seen a massive interest in it - we've signed up forty people."
"Our deputy chair Harry Wells is friends with someone at Keele University and they got together and arranged the match."
"We decided to play by IQA rules so that we can connect in a way with our American counterparts and truly capture the spirit of Quidditch. One of our long term aims is to compete as the first UK team in the Quidditch World Cup which is held annually. So naturally IQA rules would enable us to achieve this in the long run. "
Magical Quidditch involves flying around on brooms, so to adapt it for Muggle (non-magical) play required some creativity on the part of its American pioneers. Players grasp a broom between their legs and try to score points by shooting volleyballs through hoops.
The snitch - a magical golden ball with wings - is replaced by a person all in yellow with a tennis ball in a sock tucked into their belt. Players chase the snitch around the pitch and surrounding areas to score extra points and end the game.
Leicester students are enthusiastic about the sport's benefits. Maryna Danny, one of the club's founding members, said: "It's really good fun, and you meet all sorts of people. There're lots of girls - we have more girls than boys." Muggle Quidditch is a mixed sport, with male and female players taking to the pitch together.
The University of Leicester Muggle Quidditch club sorts members into houses, inspired by the house system at the fictional school Hogwarts.
"At our first big meeting, we got a sorting hat," said James Bloomfield, a first year Psychology student who joined the club after seeing it on a social media website. "The whole idea of being sorted into houses just adds a nice social element to it. It's great fun."
Holly Roberts, student development officer at the University of Leicester Students' Union, said: "It is great that students are setting up different, unique societies. I hope the Muggle Quidditch Society keeps playing matches and expands into a fully fledged society that has longevity here at the University of Leicester Students’ Union."
The match against Keele University will take place on Saturday 10 March 2012.
Notes for editors:
For more details on the University of Leicester Muggle Quidditch team, please contact the team's founder Jack Hill on firstname.lastname@example.org