Olympics sweep into Oxford with record-breaking Quidditch event

PHOTO/ Josh-MorganThis week, the largest UK Quidditch event to date was held in Oxford ahead of the Olympic Torch’s arrival in the city.

Around a hundred of players from Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took part in a tournament playing Quidditch- the game on broomsticks made famous by Harry Potter.

The two-day tournament was part of Oxford’s Olympic torch relay celebrations, as the torch tours the country celebrating sport.

There are even some people who think that Quidditch could become an Olympic sport. Alex Benepe of the International Quidditch Association said: “There are a lot more ridiculous sports in the Olympics right now if you ask me.

“I think anyone who doubts it should come out and see Quidditch and see how intense it is, it’s a rough sport, it’s an exciting and dynamic sport and I would encourage anyone who has their doubts to come out and try it for themselves.”

Leah Farrah, also of the International Quidditch Association told the BBC: For obvious reasons we can’t fly but it’s a very physical, intelligent and complex sport.”

Angus Barry is captain of the Oxford University Quidditch team, and was also chosen to play for the UK team. He said of the tournament: “There were quite a few spectators. People seemed to like it. A few people got pretty into it and there was cheering and shouting.”

He added: “I think one of the best things about Quidditch is the community of people who play it – and that was definitely the case last weekend.”

“I think that the broomsticks ensure that even if players get competitive, as many do, they don’t take themselves too seriously. And secondly, because there is such a wide range of positions, there is a space for anyone to fit in.

The rules of play are taken from J.K.Rowling’s descriptions in the Harry Potter books, with seven players playing the sport on flying broomsticks.

Three players from each team, the chasers, score points by throwing a ball through hoops, whilst the keeper from the opposing team attempts to defend the hoops. Two other players, the beaters, then aim to hit the opposing players with two balls called the bludgers to disrupt the game. It is the seeker’s job to catch the elusive golden snitch- which ends the game and wins the points.

The ‘muggle’ version of the game, which was adapted in 2005 in the United States, keeps these elements, although the players obviously cannot fly.

Since 2005, the game has spread to 25 countries and by now there are more than 700 teams.