If you're still upset that you never got your Hogwarts letter, don't fret - you can capture the magic of Harry Potter by joining the Oxford Quidditch Club. OUQC is open to everyone, no matter your level of fitness, experience of team sports, or magical ability. While they can't promise to teach you how to fly, they will help you learn this new and exciting international sport.
What is Quidditch?
Most people know the term Quidditch from the Harry Potter novels, but the sport has long since escaped the page. 'Muggle Quidditch' is still played on brooms, although the players don't tend to fly - instead, they run around a large pitch, trying to score points or stop the other team doing the same.
Muggle Quidditch positions are the same as their fictional counterparts. Teams have Chasers (who score 10 points each time they get their ball through the opposing team's hoops); Keepers (who defend their team's hoops); Beaters (who throw Bludgers at the other team's players, meaning they have to dismount and go back to their starting points); and Seekers (who chase the player who's standing in for the Golden Snitch - if they catch them, they score an extra 30 points and end the game).
Players have to be astride their brooms at all times, unless they're knocked off by a Beater with a Bludger. The team's page explains that acts as a handicap in a similar way to the backwards pass in rugby. Some players use a traditional-looking broom with bristles, but most, especially the serious players, will use a "broom" that is actually a short pole.
How do I get involved?
Just turn up! OUQC runs two practices every week during the Oxford term, as well as (optional) fitness sessions for players, and regular socials. The club prides itself on being friendly and welcoming, as well as having a detailed and inclusive gender policy.
OUQC has two teams - the Radcliffe Chimeras, an internationally-renowned team who have won the British and European championships, and the club's second team, the Oxford Quidlings. Newbies can join the Quidlings, and may later be selected for the Chimeras if they have the skills and inclination to play at this level.
Is it dangerous?
Quidditch is a contact sport, so there is always an element of risk - however, the rules have been developed to ensure players' safety. Players can tackle each other, but only from the front, with one arm, and above the knees. Beaters can throw Bludgers at other players, but as Bludgers in Muggle Quidditch are slightly softer dodgeballs, there's no risk to life and limb like there is at Hogwarts. The Snitch can essentially do anything to stop itself being caught, including pulling people's brooms away or pushing them over - however, safety rules still apply.
What else is going on in the world of Quidditch?
Oxford hosted the 2018 British Quidditch Cup, which was won by the Velociraptors (Nottingham). This year's Quidditch World Cup will take place in Florence, and Team UK (the UK's national Quidditch team) will be competing. The Oxford team also runs several local events throughout the year, including the Christmas Cup, which is specifically aimed at new players.
Learn more at:
The Oxford Quidditch Club web page.