Quidditch Takes Off in China

In the fall of 2012, Eric Cheung and a group of fr...

In the fall of 2012, Eric Cheung and a group of friends in Hangzhou, China decided to do a simple search on the internet to see if anyone had tried to adapt quidditch into a real sport. They stumbled upon the International Quidditch Association's website and a week later, the Hangzhou No. 14 Secondary School Quidditch Team was born.

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“Because of the love [for] quidditch, some of us created the idea to combine quidditch lovers together and form a team,” Cheung said. “[Our motivations are] love and interests for quidditch.”

On September 10, 2012, more than 30 people turned out to the first meeting and the team has been growing ever since. The team meets every Sunday for practices and intra-squad scrimmages. Due to the low number of teams in the area, the team has yet to play in any tournaments. “The local team that we have played is just one...Hangzhou Foreign Language School, but we divide our team members into four groups now,” Cheung said. “The number of quidditch teams in China is so small, so we...don't have many chances to play with other [people]...our aim is to set up a Hangzhou Quidditch Association.”

Cheung said he also hopes to set up a tournament similar to the World Cup in China, as so many teams may not be able to afford the cost of traveling to the official World Cup.

According to International Regional Director Karen Kumaki, there are at least three active teams in China, two in Hangzhou and one in Beijing. The first Chinese team formed in Hangzhou in fall 2011 with growing interest in the area ever since. While the region is not growing as fast as some other international regions, Kumaki said the beginnings of quidditch in China are similar to that in other places. “I do think the Chinese program is growing pretty quickly,” Kumaki said. “Not as much as in Europe, but as quickly as in South America and definitely more than in Africa or the Middle East. As for the rest of Asia, there are some teams sprinkled around, though I have not had much contact with them; the place to look for growth right now is Japan, with the first team in Nagasaki starting up this past year. I do think that the interest will only continue to grow in the region.”

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In 2008, quidditch began expanding into non-English speaking countries, beginning with McGill University in Quebec, Canada, where both English and French are spoken. World Cup IV, which was the first held outside of Middlebury College, sparked much international interest with the founding of the Qwertyians in Mexico in 2010, as well as an effort to found a team in Rio de Janeiro. Finland gained its first quidditch team in 2011 following its first games in December 2010. Similarly, a group in Italy formed the nation's first team in 2011, where Kumaki said “it has really exponentially grown...in the past year.” Kumaki has also spoken to interested players in Austria, Croatia, Bangladesh, and Uganda.

“We find interested individuals in countries who are interested in expanding the sport in their own country and honestly, the number of people like this keeps growing,” Kumaki said. “The natural growth of the sport is pretty impressive in itself, and there is a lot to be done to help these individuals expand in their area before even considering proactive expansion in areas where no interest has been expressed yet.”

Once in contact with the individual, Kumaki is available to guide new teams in their efforts to grow and expand into a stable program. Some of the programs the IQA offers to international teams are the mentor and pen pal programs, which put them in touch with teams in the U.S.A. so they can ask teams who have already built themselves up for advice and create bonds with like-minded athletes from different places in the world.

Kumaki advises anyone interested in starting a team to recruit players, whether through publicizing the sport to one's local community or Harry Potter fan groups or by holding local demonstrations. “Once you have an interested group, even if it's a small one, starting to play and get a feel for the game is paramount,” Kumaki said. “Hold an open practice so that anyone, even someone walking past and curious about what you are doing, can join in. Tell people to bring their friends, even the ones who are unconvinced but might have played sports in the past or have nothing else to do that afternoon. The only way to really start a team is to try and get the word out and then encourage people to try it, since that's how many people end up falling in love with quidditch.”