FEATURE: Quidditch has outgrown its roots in Harry Potter, find out how!
Australia has been blessed with a myriad of World Champion teams down the years, including the hyper-successful cricket and netball teams, but were you aware that we also boast a World Champion Quidditch side? A team that in 2016 broke the USA stranglehold on a game they invented to be crowned global champions in Frankfurt, Germany?
That’s right, Quidditch. The game made famous by the Harry Potter movies has transcended the big screen and is now recognised as a legitimate sport shaking off the shackles of its connections to the Wizarding World to stand alone as a relevant and exciting pastime.
It’s played, watched and administered by a wide, and ever-expanding community, that is becoming more diverse by the day and here, right on the ANU campus, we have a team of our own. A team that’s more than just about the sport they play but are part of a community that spreads across the nation.
Logan Davis, just beginning his PhD after successfully completing a degree in Engineering and Physics, is one of those advocates. As President and Coach of the University side, Davis has seen the sport grow from its humble beginnings and is keen to help spread the word of the sport he loves.
“Everyone initially hears the word Quidditch and makes the connection to Harry Potter,” Davis said. “I was a big Harry Potter fan when I was growing up, but as you actually get into the sport you realise that there is a really nice community around it and the game consists of many things that encourage people into sport and has a diverse participation base.
“There is a lot of stuff around gender inclusivity. It’s a mixed gender, full contact sport which I think is a mix that doesn’t really come up very often, and there are also rules around ensuring gender equality on the field.
“You can never have more than four people on the field at one time that identify as the same gender, so the key things are that it doesn’t limit you to the gender binary. We have players who sit outside that binary, and the rules don’t hold male players above others by enforcing a minimum number of female players, which you often see in your classic sports.”
The sport can seem incredibly complex upon first viewing. If you haven’t yet checked it out its worth doing so, but you’ll need eyes everywhere, there is a lot going on! There’s a reason for the fact that it looks busy and that’s because it is. Essentially there’s a trio games taking place at once as Davis explains.
“The chasers and the keepers are trying to score in the hoops at each end with a volleyball, and stop each other doing so,” he begins. “You then have two beaters on each team, and they have dodgeballs which they can throw at any other player. While they can tackle each other, the beaters can also take anyone out of the game by throwing the dodgeball at them.
“The last position is the seeker. There is also an extra referee, who is the snitch. This differs from the film in which the snitch is a golf ball sized object, here it’s an OzTag tag on the back of the shorts. They can push you around and stop you grabbing it while the seeker needs to be agile to try and get it.”
A combination of different positions and different roles within the team environment means that Quidditch really is a team sport in which everyone is involved and in which each position is equally important.
“It’s a sport for all,” Davis agrees. “There are so many different approaches for how you can play the game. You can have the big people who want to run through everyone and score or make tackles, but similarly we have smaller players who we encourage to have more agility, stepping around and passing at the right time.
“No matter what skill set you bring you can fit in any position and succeed. You don’t need to be 6ft tall to tackle anyone! It’s a very level playing field, allowing different players to achieve different things. You don’t need four big dudes on the pitch and the female players just waiting on the sides.”
The sport at ANU has evolved since it began as an off shoot from the Harry Potter Society, a former ANUSA club from which members started playing the game. Its affiliation with ANU Sport means that these days the players have moved on from casual games on Chifley Meadow to utilising the excellent venues on which more traditional sport is played. However, the community feel remains the same.
“NSW is the main hub and we travel around once a month to play the other teams in Sydney,” Davis said. “There are a fair few community teams starting up and what stands out is that everyone knows each other from the different teams. Everyone is really welcoming.
“One thing I really like about the sport is that while there are pathways to improve and play representatively, it’s a great intermediate for people who may have fallen out of sport for a while, it’s a nice halfway towards a “real sport”.
“Maybe there’s less pressure, and you want to try something completely new. Having space to continuously adapt as we are such a new and growing sport, means that there are new things to try and work through new ideas. A sports club is a great way to introduce yourself to new people and make new friends and Quidditch does just that.”
You don’t need to be Harry Potter fan to enjoy the sport, indeed Davis regales us of a tale of a member in Sydney who had no clue that the sport even originated from the smash-hit film franchise, they just loved the activity for what it was.
“What we like to say is whether the rules seem strange to you, or you are unsure, the best thing to do is come and try it out and you’ll quickly get to realise what makes it special,” Davis concludes.
“There are high-intensity sprint intervals and strategy, and you need to think it through. As soon as I started playing Quidditch I realised it takes a fair bit out of you, from your brain to your muscles. It’s fast-paced, exciting and has something for everyone.”
Got you interested? Get in contact with the Quidditch club to try your hand at the sport or come along and check out the ANU Quidditch Cup which begins on Saturday 14 March. Full event details can be found here.
For more details on Quidditch vist the Club Facebook Page.
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Story: Russ Gibbs