Ireland Quidditch team aim to make magical memories in Oslo

Fifteen sides enter European cup as sport inspired by ‘Harry Potter’ continues to grow

"Harry mounted his broomstick and kicked off from the ground. What a feeling – he swooped in and out of the goalposts and then sped up and down the pitch. The Nimbus 2000 turned wherever he wanted at his lightest touch."

When JK Rowling first had the idea for a boy called Harry, a school called Hogwarts and a ball game played on broomsticks she never could have imagined that nearly three decades later the magical game of chasers, beaters, bludgers and snitches would evolve into a competitive sport played by young men and women around the world.

Quidditch, the sport made famous through the Harry Potter books and films, started out as a sporting activity for Potter-aficionados in the US eager to recreate the magical broomstick competitions from their childhood books. However over the years, the sport, which consists of athletes running around with a broom between their legs, has become a popular game for athletes and Potter enthusiasts alike.

The International Quidditch Association describes the game as a mixed gender contact sport played by more than 500 teams in more than 26 countries around the world. It says the sport seeks to improve gender education across sport while promoting equality, diversity, leadership and physical activity.


On Friday, Team Ireland set off to Oslo in Norway where they will compete in the European Quidditch Cup this weekend alongside 15 teams from across Europe including Austria, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Germany and the UK. Last year, the team participated for the second time in the Quidditch World Cup where they were beaten by Australia who went on to win the tournament.

‘A little nerdy’

Rebecca O’Connor (23), who is one of the reserve players on the Irish team, says Quidditch attracts young men and women who are “a little nerdy” and might not feel comfortable signing up to their local sports clubs. The game also ensures there are no more than four people of the same gender on the seven-person team.

“I didn’t play much sport growing up but I’ve had really good coaches who have worked with women to give us more confidence,” says O’Connor. “When you’re around people encouraging you, you don’t feel so intimidated about tackling a large, male player.

O'Connor got involved with the sport because of her love of the Harry Potter books but says increasing numbers are signing up to get fit rather than spending hours chatting about all things Gryffindor and Slytherin. She says the age of players ranges from 18 to early 30s and while most participants are students, rising numbers of young professionals are getting involved.

O'Connor used to play in Galway and now plays for the local team in Bristol. However, she still travels home for the Team Ireland training sessions which take place in Dublin and Belfast.

“My favourite aspect is the community element because it’s a bit nerdy and really easy to make friends. Now I can play sport and not feel really out of my depth. It’s a chance to get fit and feel confident about my body.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast