Oslo hosts Quidditch European Games

Norway takes bronze in the high-flying sport inspired by the Harry Potter books

Photo: Ondřej Hujňák
Norway once again took third place in the European Quidditch Games.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

You have likely heard of the magical sport of quidditch featured in J.K. Rowling’s enormously successful Harry Potter series, but did you know that the sport isn’t just for witches and wizards anymore?

Quidditch for muggles—a muggle being someone without magic blood in the Harry Potter universe—was first invented in the early 2000s by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe, students at Vermont’s Middlebury College. They started playing intramural games in 2005 and the International Quidditch Association (IQA) was formed five years later to govern the rules of the quickly growing sport.

With national quidditch teams being formed around the world, it was only natural to introduce an international championship. In 2012, the first IQA World Cup was held in Oxford, England. The event takes place every other year, with the subsequent World Cups taking place in Burnaby, B.C., in 2014 and Frankfurt, Germany, in 2016.

In 2015, Europe decided to launch the IQA European Games in odd-numbered years, with the inaugural games held in Sarteno, Italy. Out of the 12 teams competing, Norway’s national team took an impressive third place. This year, 15 European quidditch teams made their way to Oslo for the 2017 IQA European Games held July 7 to 9.

The Norwegian team was seeded into Group A with the UK, France, Turkey, and Belgium for the group play, where they lost three of their matches but defeated Turkey 140*-80 (asterisk denotes snitch catch).

In the round of 16, Norway crushed the Netherlands 190-60* and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they again faced Turkey and beat them 190*-120. After losing 40-110* against the UK in the semi-finals, Norway moved onto the third-place championship. In their final match, Norway beat Belgium 140*-80 to take their second bronze in the IQA European Games. The UK ended up defeating France in the final, taking their first international gold.

Photo: Ondřej Hujňák
Are we sure that team Norway doesn’t have flying broomsticks?

The rules of the game
If you’ve read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies, you may be wondering how this sport can possibly translate to a world without flying broomsticks or magical snitches. The muggle version of quidditch incorporates elements from many ordinary sports—including rugby, dodge ball, wrestling, and flag football—while integrating the positions, equipment, and overall objectives of Harry Potter’s quidditch.

Each gender-integrated team has at least seven athletes, who wear colored headbands to designate their roles: three chasers (white), two beaters (black), one keeper (green), and one seeker (yellow). All players must keep a broomstick between their legs at all times.

Quidditch på norsk:
quidditch: rumpeldunk
chasers: jagere
beaters: knakkere
seeker : speider
quaffle: sluffen
bludger: klabb
golden snitch: gullsnop

The chasers kick, pass, and run with the quaffle ball (a paneled spherical ball, often an under-inflated volleyball) as they attempt to get it through one of the three hoops of differing heights at the other end of the pill-shaped pitch while the keeper tries to prevent any goals. Each goal is worth 10 points; after a goal is scored, the opposing team takes possession of the quaffle.

Meanwhile, the beaters use the three bludgers (spherical flexible rubber balls, normally dodge balls) to “knock out” other players. When hit by an opponent’s bludger, a player without knockout immunity is out of play until they have completed the knockout procedure—giving up possession of any ball they have, dismounting their broom, touching part of their own hoops, and remounting.

The seekers are allowed to enter the pitch 18 minutes into the match. Their objective is to capture the snitch ball (usually a tennis ball) from the snitch runner, a neutral player dressed in yellow with the snitch ball held within a sock on their waistband. Once one of the seekers makes a clean catch, worth 30 points, the period is over.

Naturally, the team with the most points wins. If the score is tied, however, the teams go into overtime. If there is not a snitch catch within five minutes, the overtime period is over and the team with most points wins. If the score is still tied, the teams enter sudden death overtime and the first team to score either a goal or a snitch catch wins.

While there are certainly fundamental differences from the magical sport dreamed up by J.K. Rowling, muggle quidditch is a true tribute to the love of reading and sports found worldwide.

This article originally appeared in the July 28, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.