Interval training on a broomstick: Quidditch taking off in the Netherlands

By Lea Bonasera

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.

Quick sprints. Hard tackles. Bruises and cuts. This is Quidditch; a new full contact sport based on rugby, handball, dodgeball and tag. Adding to the difficulty is the broom that players must have between their legs for the entirety of the game.

The number of players per team has no maximum, but is limited to 21 for tournaments. Each team tries to score by throwing one of five balls through one of three goals or by catching the “snitch”, the most valuable ball of the game, worth 30 points. Once the snitch is caught, the game ends and the team with the highest number of points earned wins.

But Quidditch, isn`t that what Harry Potter played at Hogwarts? It is, but in reality, the sport bears little resemblance to the game played by Harry Potter. Quidditch is better described as “a highly intense interval training” according to Thijs Desain, a third-year Science student at AUC. Quidditch players are used to the complete physical exhaustion when playing. It is part of the game to give everything one has, even if it means getting substituted after four to five minutes. But for Desain, those four minutes are enough to turn Quidditch into their (Editor’s note: Thijs Desain is non-binary and prefers to be addressed as “they”) favourite sport.

“I like that there is so much happening at the same time,” Desain said. “You tackle and get tackled, you`re [the] offense and defense and you have to be aware of three different balls.” Desain began playing Quidditch for the North Sea Nargles, the Quidditch team of Amsterdam and Leiden, after a friend took them to a game one year ago.

Desain is not the only university college student who has begun playing the sport. Nick van Klaveren, a geography student at Utrecht University, is the captain of Utrecht`s Dom Tower Dementors. A fan since the first open training he attended, van Klaveren enjoys the leisure aspect of the sport, but appreciates that it is a “very quick, tactical game”.

Quidditch photo 1

Thijs Desain (middle) playing Quidditch with their team North Sea Nargles. Photo by Bruggeling Quidditch Photography

Although comical to watch, realizing Quidditch is more than just running around with brooms is something that happens with each passing game. “The first time I watched Quidditch, I laughed my ass off,” said Annabell Kramme, economics student at the University of Passau (Germany) and regular Quidditch spectator. “The second time, I noticed what a competitive, serious sport Quidditch is”.

Three teams, Amsterdam`s North Sea Nargles, Wageningen`s Werewolves and Utrecht`s Dom Tower Dementors, are officially acknowledged by the Quidditch Nederland League, the governing body for the sport of Quidditch in the Netherlands. Although there are only three registered teams, there are more people playing on unofficial teams throughout the Netherlands.

Quidditch photo 2

Tackling is a big part of Quidditch. Photo by Bruggeling Quidditch Photography

Desain attributes the growth of the sport on its inclusiveness. “Not being a superfast runner is okay,” they said. “In Quidditch you can use your strengths and show the world what you are made of.” Whereas small players are agile, can duck and turn around quickly, taller players can just tackle; both can lead to victory.”

The length of a Quidditch game further demonstrates how demanding the sport is. Most Quidditch games last 20 to 30 minutes. The longest game played in the Netherlands lasted 50 minutes, meaning most professional Quidditch players play no longer than half a football match.  

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