NORFOLK’S EASTERN MERMAIDS OF THE QUIDDITCH PREMIER LEAGUE

by Laura Jamieson

Last Saturday, July 15th, saw the Eastern Mermaids travel to Upton-Upon-Severn to compete in the second southern fixture for the Quidditch Premiere League. Quidditch – a real, full contact, mixed gendered sport – has rapidly grown over the last ten years, with over 500 teams across 26 countries, competing in national and international tournaments. Played using ‘brooms’ made of PVC pipe, the players aim to score points by throwing the quaffle through three hoops on opposite ends of the pitch, all whilst avoiding beaters, players armed with dodgeballs aiming to briefly knock their opponents out of the game.

After 20 minutes, the seekers and snitch take the pitch, a player from each team aiming to ‘catch’ a tag rugby style ball in a sock attached to the back of a neutral player’s shorts. Quaffle goals are worth 10 points, with a snitch catch worth 30 points and ending the game. Full contact and competitive, the sport has seen many people otherwise disinterested or alienated from mainstream popular sports become engaged and active, some going from stationary nerds to cardio and protein enthusiasts, other players having previously played sport, joining due to the appeal of a unique, inclusive sport unlike any other.

a unique, inclusive sport unlike any other.

Quidditch recognises non-binary genders and actively welcomes LGBT+ players, with a gender rule of four maximum players of the same identifying gender on pitch at any one time. The result is a fast-paced, aggressive and truly inclusive sport thriving in the world today, community team numbers multiplying as the number of non-university players grow.

The Quidditch Premiere League is a summer league, with players joining one of eight teams according to their regions. The Eastern Mermaids consist of players based around Norfolk and Cambridge, practising weekly and  heading to fixtures every fortnight.

Our first fixture was on June 17th, where we joined together to play competitively against the three other southern teams – London Monarchs, Southwest Broadside, and Southeast Knights – for the first time. With many other teams having internationally-competing, Team UK players, we were marked as underdogs from the start yet surprised all with our standard of play, putting hoops past all other teams. Following three losses, we went to Worcester intent on winning a game, with our eyes focussed against Southwest Broadside, who came third at London.

( Captain Dominic Ayre tackles the Knight’s keeper for the quaffle. Photo Credit: Gio Forino )

Our first match was against Southeast Knights, who came top of the league last fixture. Nevertheless, our hopes rose when we watched Southwest Broadside first play London Monarchs, who first began to struggle to retain control, letting Broadside score 5 times by the end of the game. Seeing a surprise in the end result boosted our confidence, and with a quick recap of our new tactics, as instructed by captain Dominic Ayre, we took to the pitch with faith we could surprise Knights with some refined tactical play.

Beater Aaron Brett-Miller had a notable presence on pitch, frequently beating the opposing players and helping us regain quaffle possession. Scoring 40 quaffle points, Southeast Knights eventually won, 140*-40 ( * denoting the snitch catch). Not to be deterred, we were proud to have improved considerably since the last fixture and we were quick to think ahead to our next match against Southwest Broadside, where we had a higher chance at beating the competition.

( Seeker Michael Holloway catches the snitch to bring the game to overtime, with beater Aaron Brett-Miller approaching.
Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey )

Heading to pitch, we were aware that, like us Broadside, had improved considerably since June, but we were determined to win and prove ourselves as strong a competition – especially as the London Monarchs would be watching ahead of our later game together. With both ourselves and Broadside scoring hoop after hoop, and keeper Katherine Jeffery managing to save an impressive number of goals, we eventually caught the snitch to bring the game to a tie, resulting in overtime. This left the game with 5 minutes of play with snitch on pitch, the highest scoring team winning; the game ending with a snitch catch or the full five minutes being up. Unfortunately, we were just shy of catching the snitch, with Southwest Broadside winning the game 120^-80*.

Heading towards our final match against the London Monarchs, an impressively strong team with strength and synergy, we aimed to play our best and see where tactical play could take us. We managed to regain bludger possession multiple times and score some hoops, giving the overall score of 230*-40. We ended the day feeling proud of our performance and looking towards improving at our next practices, to come back even stronger to our next and final divisional fixture. On July 29th we will be in Southampton, looking to beat Broadside and raise the threats against Monarchs and Knights, before heading to the Championship on August 26th, at Craven Park Stadium in Hull. Both events are free and open to the public, so feel free to come along and support us!

For more information about the Quidditch Premiere League visit Quidditch Premier League. More pictures of the sport can be found here.

Featured image: Rica Biasi

 


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