QUID­DITCH CHRON­I­CLES

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

njuries in this sport are bru­tal. I once saw some­one’s skull crack open,” says Michael Bel­sole. The Amer­i­can sports en­thu­si­ast isn’t talk­ing about rugby, Amer­i­can foot­ball or bas­ket­ball but about mug­gle quid­ditch, the game that has moved from the mag­i­cal world of Harry Pot­ter to sports fields across the globe with the ninth world cup sched­uled to be held in Ger­many this July.

Born in JK Rowl­ing’s imag­i­na­tion and find­ing ex­pres­sion in Harry Pot­ter book se­ries, quid­ditch be­came even more pop­u­lar when the au­thor penned Quid­ditch Through The Ages, in which she ex­plained the rules and his­tory of the sport.

Soon, the sport caught on with the mug­gles ( the term for ‘ non- magic peo­ple’ in the Harry Pot­ter realm), who adapted the game from play­ers chas­ing each other on fly­ing broom­sticks into the real world, where con­tes­tants run around with the broom be­tween their legs.

Bel­sole, a food truck en­tre­pre­neur in Mt Ver­non, New York, played in the in­au­gu­ral col­lege sea­son in 2008, but the first quid­ditch match took place in Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont on Oc­to­ber 9, 2005 due to the ini­tia­tive of stu­dents Xan­der Man­shel and his friend Alex Benepe.

“At first, peo­ple ei­ther loved it or hated it. Luck­ily, a lot more loved it, so mug­gle quid­ditch be­gan to grow,” says Benepe in an email in­ter­view. Since the col­lege had just over 2,400 stu­dents, it be­gan as a so­cial ac­tiv­ity. “It was fun and we hosted an­nual tour­na­ments. The events started be­com­ing in­tense and soon, other col­leges be­gan to par­tic­i­pate,” adds Benepe, who is now the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of US Quid­ditch, the or­gan­i­sa­tion that gov­erns the sport of quid­ditch in the US.

Af­ter Benepe grad­u­ated, he and his friends made mug­gle quid­ditch a non- profit league by launch­ing the In­ter­na­tional Quid­ditch As­so­ci­a­tion and host­ing events in other col­leges and cities. “For­tu­nately, so­cial me­dia was on the rise at the time,” he says. That, along with press coverage, spread the word about mug­gle quid­ditch.

The in­au­gu­ral year of the sport saw the first Quid­ditch World Cup. It had 10 teams from Mid­dle­bury Col­lege alone. In the years since, the game has grown ex­po­nen­tially. Benepe says the largest par­tic­i­pa­tion was in the fifth edi­tion, which saw 8,000 at­ten­dees in New York. The ninth edi­tion, which is sched­uled to be held this July in Frank­furt, will have teams from the US, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Ar­gentina, Ger­many, France, Brazil and Canada.

Be­sides the fic­tional plat­form in the Harry Pot­ter se­ries, the 9 ¾ rule – al­low­ing mem­bers of ei­ther gen­der to play in one team – en­cour­ages all gen­ders to par­tic­i­pate and com­pete equally on the pitch. The In­ter­na­tional Quid­ditch As­so­ci­a­tion states: “Quid­ditch takes those ben­e­fits a step fur­ther by pro­mot­ing a sport that is truly free of gen­der- based re­stric­tions.” In some cases, play­ers do not use a broom­stick while play­ing. They carry a long stick in­stead

Is­abella Gong

Mug­gle quid­ditch can be rough, some­times re­sult­ing in player in­juries

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