Quidditch isn’t a fantasy game

It has passed from the imagination of JK Rowling into reality… and today is flying higher than a Hogwarts schoolboy on a broomstick.

Broom mates

Quidditch, the game which pitched the rival houses of Harry Potter’s school for wizards against each other in aerial combat, is now a sport with thousands of devotees and global pretensions.

And just eight years after its rules were devised by two bored university room-mates, the sixth Quidditch World Cup has been held in Kissimmee, Florida.

More than 1,600 players took part, bringing together 80 of the hundreds of teams now found across campuses in North America, Europe and Australia. The University of Texas team beat UCLA in Sunday’s final.

The game, devised by Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel in Vermont in 2005, is billed as a mash-up of lacrosse, rugby and dodge ball.

Players, who pay hundreds of pounds for top-of-the-range gear, must, of course, ‘ride’ on a broomstick as they battle to throw quaffles through ringed hoops to score points or chase the snitch to end the game.

University of Ottawa team founder Clare Hutchinson, 22, said: ‘We have people on our team that have never read the books or seen the movies, so it travels the whole spectrum. Quidditch is not necessarily all about Harry Potter any more.

‘We’ve deferred dozens of exams for this trip. We had to make personal and academic sacrifices to make that choice, as well as the financial expense. People are really surprised at the seriousness we take it at.’

Mr Benepe, who runs the International Quidditch Association, said: ’The sport has really changed a lot of people’s lives for the better. People are turning into lifetime friends.’

One thing still remains the stuff of fantasy. Despite the advances in equipment – in the game’s infancy, a dustbin lid would often suffice for a target – no one yet has a broomstick that actually flies.

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