Harry Potter is nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon, with over 500 million copies sold globally and an eight-part film series spanning a decade and grossing nearly $8 billion. So, it’s probably no surprise that the muggle adaptation of Quidditch, the chosen sport of the magical world, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world at the moment.
The format borrows largely from J.K Rowling’s creation, with each team comprising seven players – three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and the Seeker. Pitches are rectangular with rounded corners and span roughly 55 metres, with three hoops at each end. As at Hogwarts, the objective of the game is simple – to score more points than the opposition by the time the ‘Golden Snitch’ – a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow – is captured.
Before we get too bogged down in the intricacies of this ingenious take on one of the world’s best-loved games, let’s address the elephant in the room – no, they can’t fly. Broomsticks remain the same, but must remain in contact with the field of play at all times to impede player’s progress. It’s a full contact sport, though luckily the chances of Kenneth Brannagh invading the field to magically remove all the bones from your arm are slim.
Matches begin with every player minus the two Seekers and the Snitch off the field – after 17 minutes the latter is released before the Seekers join the game a minute later. Chasers handle a slightly-deflated volleyball and, as with the magical game, attempt to put it through one of three hoops, guarded by a Keeper. Beaters in this instance carry dodgeballs, and any player hit with one must drop any ball they happen to be carrying, dismount their broom and head back to their own hoops to ‘tap back in’ to the game.
Each goal is still worth a valuable 10 points to each team, but crucially the Snitch is only worth 30 points at the end of the match – presumably everyone just needs to upgrade to a Nimbus 2001 and work on their shooting before it matches the 150 points on offer for swallowing – I mean, catching – the Snitch in the books. Matches tend to last around 30 to 40 minutes depending on the nature of the Snitch catch.
Let’s be real for a moment – we all know on our 11th birthday we waited, with baited breath, for the post to arrive, craving the sight of that striking red wax seal on a letter sending us to Hogwarts, where our lives would be annually put in danger by dark magic and an indifferent approach to safety. Whilst on that occasion we were all disappointed (and if you weren’t, please get in touch with Wessex Scene for an exclusive interview), at least Muggle Quidditch offers us some salvation.
The game might have originated from the US, but luckily for University of Southampton students, the UK’s largest club exists right here on Highfield Campus. The team was founded in 2013 and since then has gone on to become British champions and enjoy success on the European stage, and also have players who represent Britain on the international stage.
So, what are you waiting for? Everyone step up to the left side of their broomstick. Stick your right hand over the broom, and say ‘Up!’.