CHASERS, keepers, beaters and seekers are preparing for the sporting event of their year.
University of Portsmouth quidditch team the Horntail Strikers are gearing up for the British Quidditch Cup in Rugeley, Staffordshire.
Quidditch was created by writer JK Rowling for the Harry Potter books before being adapted into a real-world contact sport in 2005.
Unlike the version played at Hogwarts, the muggle – non-magic – version is seen in parks around Portsmouth. An instant hit, it has since proved popular in university campuses globally.
The national competition takes place on March 11 and 12, with 31 matches played before a champion is crowned.
The tournament has become such a sensation that the Strikers had to qualify for the cup, finishing eighth in the regional qualifiers. With training already well under way, the Strikers are eager to make a mark on their first visit to Staffordshire.
Club president and team keeper Scott Brown can’t wait to get started.
He said: ‘Training is stepping up, we’ve gone up to two three-hour training sessions every week, we’re trying to improve our fitness in time for when it matters.’
The BQC is the premier tournament in the country – the FA Cup of Quidditch. This year the favourites are the Velociraptors of Nottingham but Scott, 21, is looking to claim one scalp in particular.
He said: ‘To be honest, I wouldn’t mind going out in the second round as long as we beat Southampton in the first, that would make it a fantastic day. We’re just looking to make a name for ourselves.’
Quidditch has focused on ensuring it is a mixed-gender sport, and UK Quidditch’s PR officer Thomas Ffiske believes that is one reason for its rapid rise. He said: ‘There can only be four people of one gender at any time, but we are sure to be as inclusive as possible.
‘The rules state that you are classed as whichever gender you regard yourself as, which means that trans or non-binary participants are not excluded.
‘Quidditch is a truly 21st century sport, men and women compete together equally at the highest level and we always aim to be as LGBTQ+ friendly as possible.’