Quidditch in Germany: The nicest opponents in the world
When you hear the word “quidditch”, you might think of flying broomsticks, witches and wizards and a sport that only exists in a fictional world. Only very few people – so far – think of German championships or a group of students running across a meadow.
Yousef from Palestine talks about what’s so special about quidditch and why he never misses a training session with his team.
by Marlene Bauz
Quidditch has existed as a sport since 2005 and was started by students in the United States. Teams have formed in many other countries since then. Most of them are organised by students and belong to a university. The game is characterised by friendliness and mutual respect. Quidditch teams have also existed in Germany for a few years – there is even a national team which participates in international tournaments.
If you don’t know quidditch yet, it might be hard to picture what such a game would look like. As far as possible, the structure of the game follows the “original”, namely the sport which many witches and wizards in the Harry Potter books are so wild about. Just like in the books, male and female participants play together in a team. To make sure the gender distribution is similar in all teams, no more than four people of one gender may play at one time. This means that when four male players in one team are already on the field, the other three players must not be male. What is most unlike the book is certainly the lack of flying broomsticks, since they unfortunately can’t do that in the real world (yet). To replace the brooms, the players carry a stick between their legs during the game.
Just like in the books, a team consists of seven members who play in various positions. Three chasers try to shoot goals with a ball, the so-called quaffle, and get points for their team. The team also has two beaters, who use two balls – called bludgers – to knock out players from the opposing team, who are then eliminated for a short time. Lastly, there is also a keeper who defends the team’s own goal hoops and a seeker who tries to catch the golden snitch. The snitch is played by another person who doesn’t belong to either of the teams, who carries a small ball in a sock attached to the trousers, which the seekers must try to capture. The game is over when the snitch is caught. The team of the seeker who found it receives an additional 30 points. The team with the most points wins the game.
Yousef Almaqadma has played quidditch with the team Munster Marauders for the last year. He comes from Palestine, is 21 years old and studies dentistry at Westphalian Wilhelms University in Munster. By now he’s quite familiar with the reactions of people who have never heard of quidditch – because he can also remember how he himself first heard about the game: “You definitely have to laugh. At first I also laughed and said: ‘Well, this is just a joke! That only exists in Harry Potter!’ But when people tell you that you’re carrying a broomstick, or a pole, between your legs, you can picture it better. Quidditch is really a combination of rugby, dodgeball and volleyball. But because it comes from Harry Potter, you also need another element to it. And what could we have? Broomsticks!”
Since Yousef started playing quidditch, he not only improved his playing skills but also gained self-confidence in dealing with other players and in the German language. Yousef describes his development like this: “When I started playing quidditch, I was the newcomer. We all sat in a circle and everyone talked and I just listened the entire time. Then someone always came and said: ‘Yousef, tell us something!’ or ‘Yousef, join us!’ They always tried to get me involved. And when a new player joins us now, I try to involve him or her. I’m the one in the team who is always talking and joking around.”
However, team spirit is good not just in the Munster Marauders but among all German teams. Yousef talks about an experience during his first game against another German team: “During our first game against the Rheinos from Bonn, I did something wrong. Then a player from the other team – in the game – came over and said: ‘I’ll show you how to do it!’ And then he told me what to do. So we’re really more friends than opponents. Of course everyone wants to do their best on the field, but we’re just nice to each other.”
Quidditch was such a positive influence on Yousef’s life in Germany, that he also encourages his international friends to take it up. He explains why he’s doing this: “Many of my friends have been in Germany for three-and-a-half years already, like me, but they almost never came in contact with Germans. I mean, we’re living here now and are part of this society. That’s why I always tell my friends: ‘You must make contact with Germans’ – and quidditch is one way of doing this. The best German friends I have come from quidditch.” Even if you’ve never heard of quidditch or haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books, you can play the sport without problems. Of course you’ll meet several Harry Potter fans in each team, but you’re still welcome even without prior knowledge. Yousef can confirm this: “Of course, every team has three goal hoops, we also have the bludgers and the quaffle, everything is like in the film [and in the book]. But you don’t have to be a big fan or know everything to understand the sport. It’s just a sport, you can easily learn it when someone shows you how.”
If you’re interested in trying quidditch too, the Website of the German Quidditch Federation offers you a good overview of the teams that are active in Germany. Just contact the team where you would like to check out a training session. You don’t need any background knowledge or particular skills, as Yousef explains: “You definitely have to bring a friendly attitude! You don’t need anything else for quidditch. You don’t have to be fast, you don’t have to be the best athlete, you just have to feel like doing it and have fun with the people there. Winning is cool and all, but the main thing is for us to have fun!”