This Midsemester Break I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the inaugural IQA Summer Games: The Quidditch Olympics.
This meant venturing over to Oxford, England to spend 4 days in a whirlwind of introductions, mingling, training, team strategy talks, socialising, friendly smack talk, referee meetings and, of course, intense games of quidditch.
In a twist of good fortune, Team USA and Team Australia, as well as a few players from Team Canada, ended up staying in the same hostel from the 6th of July – making for free t-shirts from the owners and a spontaneous pub crawl run by the hostel. The night was a blur of greetings and photos and smatterings of local knowledge intertwined with serious discussions of where quidditch was heading.
The day of the 7th saw Team Australia kitted up for a training session – heading for a nearby park we got down to learning each others styles and doing some drills to find a rhythm with each other. The evening held jersey presentations(!) and led the four teams who’d arrived (Canada, Australia, USA and the UK) to a nearby pub for a true British dinner and a few impromptu speeches, before everyone headed to bed to rest up for the next day.
The 8th was a day of many surprises – Team France showed up out of nowhere and knocked the wind out of everyone but the USA’s sails, those of us not from the USA or Canada got our first glimpse of an Alivans broom, the Snitch antics really upped the ante, the Americans learnt to be terrified of the Happy Little Vegemites song, everyone *else* learnt to be terrified of the Americans on the pitch, we all learnt to love the Commonwealth (for Lizzie!) and everyone saw the dedication of the volunteers and organising committee.
The day turned out to be a win for the USA, followed by France in 2nd place, Australia in 3rd, Canada in 4th and the UK in 5th.
The medal presentations and thankyous were well received, and highlighted the need for translators to be present at future international tournaments.
The 9th saw the USA and the UK take to the field once again, for a demonstration match at the Official Oxford Olympic Torch Ceremony. I was selected to represent Team Australia there, and also to goal referee the match. When the matches were over we ran some kidditch (quidditch for kids) for the spectators (including Ellie Darcey-Alden, the actress who played Young Lily Evans in the later Harry Potter movies), which went off as a big hit!
The Torch Ceremony was incredible – the free merchandise, odd sculptures/constructions, bars made out of double decker buses and wide range of fun sports to try made for a fun day running around psychotically with the Canadians.
The 10th saw the departure of Team USA, and what was left of Team Australia. Fond goodbyes were exchanged, and promises to meet up at the World Cup were abundant.
The experience was incredible – meeting so many different people, building networks across 3 different continents and connecting with people in a host of different positions is an opportunity that isn’t often available, and the friendships formed will last far longer than the tournament.
Playing quidditch against a team as experienced as Team USA was an honor, and the day was a steep learning curve that has seen a step improvement in my own playing
I’m honoured to have been selected for the team and given this opportunity – next stop is training to qualify for the World Cup team!