Oxford cemented its reputation as the Harry Potter capital of the world this week, after it was announced that the inaugural British Quidditch Cup will be held in the city.
The top 16 teams from around Britain and Ireland are set to land in Oxford on the 9th and 10th of November and will battle it out on the permanently marked Quidditch pitch in the University Parks.
Ashley Cooper, President of the Oxford University Quidditch Club, said he was “pretty confident” that the team could win.
He commented: “Our first team, the Radcliffe Chimeras, have won the last two tournaments we’ve been to, and have only been defeated once; so we are very confident.
“However, there are a lot of teams with new players this year, and all the teams have been doing a lot of training over summer to prepare for the competition.”
The decision to bring the tournament to Oxford was made by the sport’s national organisation Quidditch UK. Along with the Chimeras and the Quidlings (Oxford’s second team), other teams in the competition include Keele’s Avada Keeledavra and Edinburgh’s Holyrood Hippogriffs.
Matthew Western, co-captain of the Quidlings, said members of the Oxford club were “proud to be the people to usher in this new phase of competitive Quidditch.
“With 16 teams competing, all with their own rivalries to settle, this promises to be the most thrilling demonstration of Quidditch as a sport yet.”
“Not only will there be exciting on-pitch action, but our troupe of trained Snitches, with all of Uni Parks to roam in and some devious tricks up their sleeve, will bring a new level of off-pitch excitement to the spectacle,” he added.
Oxford is the first club in the country to be able to field two teams in the tournament.
“As their co-captain I know that we’ve had lots of promising new talent arrive this year, and as such we shall be looking to exceed all expectations upon our debut,” Western said.
Whilst in JK Rowling’s best-selling series, the game is played whilst flying on broomsticks, the muggle version of the game sadly does not have the same potential so the real-life incarnation is played on the ground whilst the competitors hold a broomstick in between their legs and is comparable to rugby, lacrosse and dodgeball.
Although it has its origins in Rowling’s fictional world, ‘Muggle Quidditch’ was founded by a group of students in Vermont in 2005.
Oxford snitched the rights to hold the first British tournament out of the hands of fierce competitors, including Keele.
As well as watching the teams play, spectators at the event will be able to try out the sport for themselves. Representatives of Quidditch UK will attend the event to scout out potential players for the national team, which will go forward to play in April’s Quidditch World Cup.
Cooper, who is also Captain of the Chimeras, said the sport was “very misunderstood.
“People still expect us to be extreme Harry Potter fans who have accidentally found themselves on a sports pitch and run around making ‘vroom!’ noises pretending to fly on brooms. Actually that isn’t the case at all.
“Many of the players haven’t even read all the books or seen the films, and come just for the sport. Quidditch is now a sport in its own right, separate from Harry Potter.”
He continued: “It’s a full contact, mixed gender, and massively physically demanding sport. The brooms are our version of the handicap, such as in rugby you can only pass backwards and in hockey you have to hit the ball with a stick.”
But it’s not all serious for Cooper and his Chimeras. “We still acknowledge and embrace the funny origin of the sport. Why not? We all like to have fun.”