Quidditch! Turns out it’s quite an aggressive and inclusive team sport. 2017 saw the launch of the Quidditch Premier League.
I first met with the director, Jack Lennard, plus some of the key players for our podcast last year.
I caught up with Jack to find out what’s been going on in the world of Quidditch, and do snitches, in fact, get stitches?
For those who don’t yet know, what is the Quidditch Premier League?
The QPL is a summer league for the fast-paced, mixed-gender, full-contact sport of quidditch. I realised that, while the sport was thriving during the academic year between September and May, there wasn’t much at a high level during the summer in the UK. So I set up the QPL to act as a simple, marketable, elite competition for the summer months. We launched in November 2016 with eight teams, each representing a region of England, and had our first season during the summer of 2017.
Tell me more about the inclusivity aspect.
Quidditch is the only full-contact sport with mandatory mixed teams in the world. The rule is essentially that you can only have a maximum of four people of the same gender on your team on the pitch at any one time. Key to this is that we recognise this as ‘gender’, rather than ‘biological sex’. This means that transgender players can play as themselves, rather than subscribing to an arbitrary determination of their biology, and players who don’t identify within the gender binary can identify as who they are, rather than many other sports which exclude those identities. This has led to an incredibly inclusive community.
How did the 2017 league go?
It was a huge success! We gained a lot of praise and attention for what we were trying to do, the fixtures ran well, the players all enjoyed themselves, and we laid a strong foundation for future years. It was the most rewarding summer of my life, if I’m honest.
What were the highlights for you?
Seeing the trophy being lifted in Craven Park Stadium in Hull was pretty incredible – we did it properly, so the teams came out of the tunnel to music, there was champagne being popped, and so on. It was really special and very much stood out in the way I hoped it would. The media interest was fantastic, because I just love telling people about the sport, so having the opportunity to do that on a massive scale (Sky News, BBC Breakfast, the Washington Post) was surreal. Not quite as surreal as my phone going off and seeing JK Rowling herself had tweeted congratulations to the league and the winners after seeing us on the news – it was the first time she’s ever directly acknowledged the sport, let alone supported it, so that was a bit of a ‘wow’ moment.
Who won and how close was it?
The West Midlands Revolution won against the Southeast Knights in a very tight final – it was played under the floodlights after dusk, so was very dramatic to watch!
What’s new for 2018?
The biggest change is the addition of two new teams, the Welsh Dragons and the Scottish Thistles! These are the first ever Welsh or Scottish national quidditch teams, as they usually participate in international events as part of a broader UK team, so we’re really excited to see people back their new local teams! We’ve also brought down the amount of players on each roster, which will add some more intensity to each game and make managers organise their team selections more strategically.
And you’ve secured a great venue for the finals…
Cardiff Arms Park Stadium! Yes, we’re very excited about that, especially as it means that one of our new teams will play host! It’s a fantastic opportunity to play in a historic stadium, so I just can’t wait to see our teams take to the field there.
I understand you have some amazing partners, is that right?
That is right! Firstly, we have you – Coaching for Geeks! As your readers may know, you’ll be seeing the CfG logo on both the West Midlands Revolution and the Welsh Dragons kits this summer. We’ve tried to work with brands that really fit what our players might be interested in, and ones who reflect our values as an organisation. That’s led to a really fun range of partners – including an education organisation working on VR called TREO, a fandom merchandise website, Truffle Shuffle, and a sports glove manufacturer called Friction Gloves. We love them all, and we think our players will too, which is why we partner with them. We also have an official charity for this year, Mind, and we’ll be raising money and awareness for them throughout the season.
How can people get involved?
You don’t need to be an expert, just come along, bring sports clothes, studded boots if you have them, and get ready to have a blast, even if you don’t make a team! I know so many people who went along to a tryout, didn’t make a team, but loved the sport so much that they kept coming back anyway.
What about our worldwide readers?
There’s almost certainly a national governing body with teams wherever you are! Get in touch with them, see what’s on offer. Or, if you just want to dip your toe in the water, we’ll be putting match footage online after each event, so you can cheer on from afar!
Have you got a message for anyone with a thirst for Quidditch glory?
Just go for it. We’re very proud of how inclusive our sport is, but that doesn’t just relate to gender; it’s inclusive of all body types, abilities, and skills. The sport is designed to encompass as broad a possible mix of gameplay elements, so there’s almost certainly something for you – just go and give it a go!
Thanks Jack, I look forward to the 2018 season unfolding and The Welsh Dragons or the West Midlands Revolution winning of course!
Jack Lennard – Director – Quidditch Premier League
Jessica Cornelius – Photography
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