Hamilton Quidditch league on quest for members

By Wintec student, Libby Kissick

Hamilton's Quidditch league is on a membership drive after a wobbly start to the season.

Following the advertising of practice times around both Waikato University and Wintec campuses, three students, two brooms and a tidy pile of leaves fronted up at Steele Park recently.

"We had around 13-14 people last year, maybe it has something to do with the amount of work we've been doused in," Mr Wood said.

Whether the finality of the Warner Brothers Harry Potter movie series is to blame, or something as simple as study pressures - turnout for the second training session of this season was below the  minimum.

While twirling the remains of his 48-inch regulation broom, notably missing its clean sweep head and handle, Mr Wood said Quidditch might sound like a silly sport, but was far from that.

"It is very serious. This is the second broomstick I have snapped, this one I snapped in two places. I don't know my own strength. At nationals I know two players lost eye sockets," he said.

The sport, akin from the fictional world of children's author JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, has been modified for muggles (non-magical folk) to take part.

Waikato University science major Catherine Milson,19, admitted not being mad about Potter but a notice for Quidditch trials last year sparked her interest.

"I'm not a fan but my friend is, so I thought it could be fun. You have to be really fit though. Half of us last year were soccer players and even they get knackered. I go to the gym four times a week and bike 10kms from Rototuna to Uni for classes. Those who play it know it's a tough game," Miss Milson said.

"It takes about five minutes to get used to running with a broom between your legs", she said.

Mr Wood liked to point out the team were not Potter-crazy and did have other interests. (His: eating food stuff, going to music concerts;  Miss Milson's: piano, cello, percussion and music composition).

President of the Waikato Magic circuit Alista Fow explained it best as a combination of rugby, basketball and dodgeball.

"Unlike other sports, there is no gender specific [with Quidditch]. We have to have two of each gender under the International Quidditch Association rules."

Since last year Mr Fow, the well-known inventor of Ork Ball (another sport involving gridiron, a skull for a ball and PVC pipe sword weaponry), has dedicated his time to Quidditch.

That is when he is not tutoring physics at Wintec and the occasional maths class at Waikato University.

"It is not the silly broomsticks that put people off. More the intensity of the game, we go hard for 15 minutes and then have to rest because they [players] are basically sprinting for the whole time. You need at least five subs so players can go off every two-three minutes.

"At the 2010 World champs there were 12 hospitalisations. It's fun, I mean the worst that is going to happen is you break a bone. It's hard to foul each other really," Mr Fow said.

"It's a bit of fun. At best we have had enough to have a proper game with two teams but our goal at the end of the year is to field a team in Auckland.

"Watch this space. Lots of people say they want to play but may get put off with the intense physical activity. It is a lot of fun though, if anyone wants to join us, we need members," Mr Fow said.

The current Quidditch season runs right up to the end of second semester.

If you want to learn more contact Alista Fow at ajf8@waikato.ac.nz

More about Quidditch

For those who have veered awkwardly away from the books and movies and Potter speak, a Quidditch team consists of people straddling flying broomsticks.

There is a keeper (goalie of three hoop stands), three chasers (airborne rugby players who toss a quaffle ( large ball that rattles)  towards their goal end and through one of the hoop stands), two bludgers (enchanted hardballs of iron with the ability to break bones ) hit by beaters (players with baseball bats) who knock chasers off their brooms.

The most desired position is the seeker ( the player who flies around above the field) looking for the golden snitch (golden ball with wings, worth 150 points when caught and winning the game).

Muggle Quidditch is similar but with some non-magical additives.

There is no flying, one hand must be on your broom at all times, the quaffle is a slightly deflated volleyball (easier to grip), there are three bludgers in the form of tennis balls thrown by the beaters. There are no bats involved, but tackling your opponents off their brooms is fair game, and catching the snitch is not decisive as it is worth only 30 points.

Most challenging is the lack of magic since the snitch in the muggle realm is a team member with a tennis ball attached to their back The snitch can leave the pitch during the first 10 minutes of the game, despite being chased by the seeker.

"There has been an incident where the snitch has hopped in a van and gone for a drive around the block a couple of times," Mr Wood said.


- Hamilton News

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