Since quidditch was first practised in the United States of America 12 years ago, the sport has battled its way into the public view and is continuing to win interest from a growing audience. Currently there are 25 competing countries, with 20,000 international players worldwide, and just last year the United Kingdom won bronze in the 2016 World Cup. However quidditch was first introduced by J. K Rowling, and finally the game has returned home. Here at Glasgow’s very own “Hogwarts”, University quidditch team Glasgow Grim Reapers continue to grow, and I went to have a chat with them about the sport.
A rough wind is shaking the orange leaves of the trees and the air is damp. In this weather, being outside does not seem like the most attractive thing to do, however, the weather does not seem to bother the Glasgow Grim Reapers as they play a friendly against Stirling Dumyat Dragons in the middle of Kelvingrove Park. In fact, they do not even seem to notice the mud as they are running around and often pushed into.
After the game, I spoke to Ross Wiseman, team player and spokesperson, to have a chat about why quidditch has gained so much popularity lately. Seeing that the game is originally from the Harry Potter books, one could assume that most people who play quidditch are in fact Harry Potter fans. Regardless, when speaking to Ross, he explains that there is more to the game then just Harry Potter: “Within the whole quidditch community, it is taken seriously as a sport. There are a lot of people who are keen to get it more recognized as a real sport. I think maybe it looks more on the ridiculous side, with the brooms especially, but I think when you are playing it it doesn’t feel silly. It feels competitive and just really fun.”
But how exactly do you play quidditch? There are seven players on the field from each team, each player must at all times carry a broom between their legs. The team has a keeper, three chasers, two beaters, and a seeker. The keeper guards the three goal hoops. The chasers’ aim is to throw a ball called the “quaffle” through the other team’s hoops. A goal by the chasers equals 10 points. It is the beaters’ jobs to distract the chasers by throwing balls called “bludgers” at them. If a player is hit by a bludger, this player has to drop their ball and run back to touch their own hoop before being allowed back in the game. Finally, there is the seeker. The seeker has to catch the snitch. In the non-magic world, the snitch is played by a neutral person in yellow with a Velcro ball attached to their shorts. The ball is the snitch and, if the seeker succeeds in capturing it, the team is awarded 30 points and the game ends.
If this has persuaded you to grab a broom and fly to practice, do not hesitate. “The people in the whole wider quidditch community are so friendly, so inclusive and just generally welcoming of anyone coming into the sport for the first time,” Wiseman says before adding, “we are trying to get as many people as we can to tournaments, because you need a lot of substitutions as well.”
Although there are only four quidditch teams in Scotland at the moment, the Glasgow Grim Reapers have great expectations for the future: “We would love to be entering into more tournaments, and qualifying for the British Quidditch cup would be amazing.”
The Glasgow Grim Reapers lost two games to one at the Highlander Cup in Edinburgh, which took place on 14-15 October.