Burnaby prepares for quidditch world championships

WEB-quidditch-Mark Burnham

To most, quidditch is a game confined to fiction, played solely in J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series; however, in Burnaby, BC, quidditch is very real and currently thriving.

Not only has SFU managed to field a competitive team in the past year, but the quidditch world championships — the Global Games — are coming to Burnaby this July. Both the SFU and UBC quidditch teams, who played a hard-fought game on Friday, March 28, have players trying out for Team Canada.

Real quidditch — or “muggle quidditch” as it is sometimes called — actually plays like a typical team sport, in the vein of soccer or rugby. There are three chasers on the field for each team who try to score with the quaffle. The two beaters, on the other hand, use balls called bludgers, thrown at the chasers to try to stop them. The keeper tries to prevent the quaffle from going in the hoops, but can also act as a fourth chaser. Each score of the quaffle is worth 10 points.

Quidditch distinguishes itself from other games, however, with the snitch and the seekers. In lieu of the mystical creature in the books, there is a snitch runner, a player unaffiliated with either team who tries to evade both teams’ seekers; the seekers, meanwhile, are trying to steal the snitch attached to the runner’s belt. Whichever seeker captures the snitch earns their team 30 points, and ends the game (this does not guarantee the win, however, depending on the spread).

Muggle quidditch obviously differs from the movie version in several ways. In Harry Potter, brooms enable players to fly, while in muggle quidditch the broom is merely a handicap similar to dribbling in basketball; the player must hold it the entire time. Also, the bludgers in real life are just balls, rather than weapons. To simulate recovery time once hit, the chaser must retreat to their own goal post before going after the quaffle again.

Although most people are confused when they see that SFU has a quidditch team, it is this reaction that draws people to the sport, says SFU quidditch team founder and president Christine Konrad. “It was too funny watching people walk by, and people whose faces were like, ‘What?’,” she explained. “Those were the ones who you’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah, come on over, I’ll tell you all about it.’”

Konrad, who is also a chaser for her team, feels that quidditch provides a unique sense of community because players “all have something a little unusual in common [. . .] You’re all doing quidditch, you’re all doing something different.”

On Friday, March 28, SFU faced UBC, one of the originators of quidditch in the region, with an inspiring force behind their team. Although SFU scored the first 10 points, they lost all three games by scores of 90-30, 50-20, and 60-30. Despite the end results, SFU played better with each game, and only lost the last two because of a snitch catch.

Alexa Rowe, president of UBC’s team and a seeker, applauded SFU’s efforts: “SFU has really improved, I was really impressed with their gameplay as well. They kept it within snitch range for a couple of those games, so it was really exciting probably to watch and to play.”

Now, besides a possible road trip, only the Global Games remain. “The fact that the Global Games are here will [. . .] increase awareness of quidditch in our region,“ stated Rowe, “Quidditch in the States is huge and quidditch in Canada, especially up here in the northwest region, isn’t as well known.”

Konrad agreed, pointing out that she first became interested after watching a game between UBC and UVic. “That’s what made me want to start a team, was watching it in action.” She continued, “ If people from other schools in the area, [such as] Langara, Cap[ilano], if they’re watching games, and they’re like ‘I want this,’ then we [will] have more local teams springing up.”

The Global Games will take place at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West on July 19.