Muggle Quidditch has been going for about ten years the other side of the Atlantic but it’s only beginning to pick up as a sport in Ireland. Many will laugh and say “Are you for real? It’s a fictional sport!”. Quidditch, although formally fictional and only existing in the world of Harry Potter, is gaining steady popularity. As anyone who has seen the documentary Mudbloods will discover it’s a highly technical, full contact sport and in many ways, despite the odd nuances of needing to carry a broom and other features, is a highly forward thinking sport as it is mixed gender.
For those new to the sport, it involves three types of balls and five types of players. Chasers, of which there are three a team, pass the Quaffle (in the muggle varient this is a volleyball) between themselves and attempt to get it through one of three hoops belonging to the other team, each worth ten points to their team. The keeper is Quidditch’s goalie and defends their own set of hoops while sometimes participating in the scoring part of the game. If the hoops were not defended enough, there are two beaters per team who throw softer dodgeballs (called Bludgers) at the chasers to stop them scoring. When anyone is hit with the bludger they need to drop the ball and run back to touch their team’s hoop so that they can return to the game. Finally there is the snitch, a tennis ball in a sock which is attached to a player named the snitchrunner who runs around while the player on each team named the seeker has to try to detach the ball from the snitchrunner before the other team’s seeker. Catching the snitch ends the game and awards 30 points to the team of the player who catches it.
There are proper leagues in Europe and in the US but it was only last year that Ireland formed a team. Due to the unfortunate lack of development of the sport here, however, there are still only about three Irish players on the Ireland team and even now they are struggling raising the funding needed to travel to Frankfurt to this year’s world cup in July. If you would like to help and get some cool Irish team gear long the way, the team are fundraising at Indiegogo. You can also find out more about the team on their funding page.
Some teams do exist, mostly in colleges such as UCD, DCU, DIT and NUI Galway but no real community teams existed – until now. For a period of many months a small group of Harry Potter and Quidditch fans have attempted to get the ball rolling, having open meetings in Kennedy’s Pub on Westland Row to discuss what the sport actually involves and to talk recruiting strategies. A lot of help has come from the aforementioned college-based teams and their support and recruitment has been paramount to the success that was experienced on Saturday.
Saturday afternoon last saw the first open training opportunity in the Fairview Park to which enough enthusiastic people arrived to form two teams. There was an opening section in which group founders Stefan and Martina discussed the basic rules of Quidditch and everyone got to know each other. While also being an exercise in learning each others names, passing the ball around got the group, which were mostly new to the sport, used to throwing the ball with one hand while holding their brooms. It is important to point out that this is a group aimed at veterans and newbies alike – this is a team open to all, and is about having casual games of Quidditch. Those who wish to can use the team as a way to train up for the big leagues, but the craic to be had is the most important thing. Following on from the introduction to the sport, there was a short warm-up session and then two eighteen minute games. The snitch was only introduced to the group after these games, in a short session of catch the snitch, as the original games were intended to get players used to working with the Quaffle and the Bludgers to begin with.
For those interested in finding out more about the sport, Mudbloods is on Irish Netflix. The team is still recruiting via their Facebook and MeetUp group and there will be another training opportunity in about two weeks.