A Leeds University philosophy student has been chosen to represent the UK at an international quidditch competition.
The unusual sport, created by JK Rowling in her Harry Potter novels and since played out on the Hollywood silver screen in numerous movies, has gone from fiction to reality, being played by teams across the world.
Now, 24-year-old Potter fan Travis Manuel will be playing at the Global Games in Canada, after battling it out with 100 applicants at several intensive ‘tryout’ weekends.
MA student Travis got into quidditch a couple of years ago, after internet research revealed the sport was already big in America and some British teams were catching on.
He and his friends started a society through the university union and haven’t looked back since.
They now practice twice a week with their Leeds Griffins team mates.
“I love quidditch because it’s a perfect mix of serious competition, intense sportsmanship and ridiculous good fun. I also love that it’s so inclusive of all gender identities and that it discourages sexism,” said Travis.
“It’s a really intense, full-contact sport that pushes every part of your body, so having lots of subs is important,” Travis explained.
“As well as broomsticks there are also hoops, chasers, quaffles, beaters, keepers, seekers and a snitch,” he added.
Players wear headbands corresponding to their positions. Teams are mixed, with 21 players on each side, but only seven on the pitch at any one time.
Travis will join a squad of 21 who will be jetting off to Canada for the Global Games tournament, which is taking place on July 19.
Organised by the International Quidditch Association (IQA), the event will play host to national teams from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Belgium, France and Italy.
So what does the future hold for Travis and his ‘cocktail of sports’, which includes elements of rugby, dodgeball and handball?
“I have a lot of friends who play and the ones who don’t have long since accepted the strange quirk. I know they think it’s odd - and frankly I do too - but they also recognise how awesome it is,” he said.
Ashley Cooper, Captain of Team UK, added: “I have great faith in our powerful, dedicated and united team - I know we are more than capable of bringing Quidditch home.”
The pitch is 60x40 yards and has three hoops at either end.
Each team has 7 players on the pitch at any one time, 21 in total.
Players must be riding a broomstick and if they dismount at any time, they must return to their team’s hoops before they can get back in the game.
The positions are: three ‘chasers’, one ‘keeper’, two ‘beaters’ and one ‘seeker’ whose aim is to catch the ‘snitch’.
The snitch is a person dressed in yellow who has a tennis ball attached to their back.
Read the full rulebook at http://iqaquidditch.com/files/IQA_Rulebook_7_web.pdf.