Today may just go down in history as one of the greatest days in the history of organised sport – Quidditch has been given its own Premier League.
The game, originally invented by JK Rowling in her Harry Potter novels, is played by characters on flying broomsticks who aim to shoot balls through hoops suspended hundreds of feet in the air.
In its real-world imagining, however, players must hold a broom between their legs as they run, while the hoops are a great deal closer to the ground.
The sport was first codified by two college students in Vermont back in 2005, but has now grown to have an international player base of over 20,000 across 25 countries. The sport is particularly popular in colleges and university across the United Status. There’s even a fiercely contest Quidditch World Cup, which is played biannually. In July, Australia were crowned the victors.
The rules stick as faithfully as possible to those of the Harry Potter universe. Seven players take to the field on each team: a keeper, who protects the hoop-like goals; three chasers, who attempt to throw a ‘quaffle’ (here, a half deflated volleyball) through the hoops; two beaters, who throw dodgeball ‘bludgers’ at the opposing team in an attempt to de-rail them; and one seekere, whose job it is to catch the infamous golden ‘snitch’. In this version, the snitch is a tennis ball inside a sock, attached to the shorts of an agile and cheeky player called the snitch runner.
The new UK Quidditch Premier Leage will begin in May and play through to August. The inaugural season will be made up of eight team from around the country, representing a different region and its history.
“The Quidditch Premier League is such an exciting opportunity and development,” said director Jack Lennard. “It’s an opportunity for the sport to grow and gain prestige. It’s an opportunity for players to compete at the highest level. And, most importantly, it’s an opportunity for more people in more places to find out about this incredible sport.”
According to organisers of the UK’s Quidditch Premier League, it is also the most progressive sport in the world when it comes to gender inclusivity, because there can be a maximum of only four players of the same gender per team on the pitch at any time.
Here’s the league’s full lineup:
The London Monarchs – after the residing Royal Family in the capital
The Southwest Broadside – after the seafaring and piratical history in the area
The Southeast Knights – after the legacy of the Battle of Hastings
The Eastern Mermaids – after the many ‘drowned cities’ off the eastern coast
The Northern Watch – after the iconic Hadrian’s Wall
The Yorkshire Roses – after the region’s famous symbol
The East Midlands Archers – after the legend of Robin Hood
The West Midlands Revolution – after the heritage of the Industrial Revolution