In Brief

What is muggle quidditch? The not-so-magical worldwide sport

Twenty-three countries will battle it out in a real-life version of Harry Potter's favourite game

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If you read Harry Potter and dreamed of hurling the quaffle through the hoop, fending off fiendish bludgers or grabbing a golden snitch, that dream can become a reality thanks to muggle quidditch.

Initially cooked up by students at Middlebury College, Vermont, in 2005, the fictional game is now played across the world, mostly on university campuses.

As Potter fans will remember, Quidditch is played by two seven-a-side teams mounted on broomsticks trying to throw a ball – known as the quaffle – through one of three hoops at each end of the pitch. Each team has a seeker who looks out for the golden snitch, a tiny flying ball worth a usually game-winning 150 points.

At this point, you're probably thinking there is something fundamentally missing from a real-life version of Quidditch: magic.

In muggle quidditch, players still ride broomsticks, although in the absence of enchantments they simply straddle them while running. The quaffle is a slightly deflated volleyball and the bludgers are dodgeballs.

As for the golden snitch, the game's creators came up with a novel solution: a designated person runs around the pitch with a sock containing a tennis ball hanging from their shorts. The seekers then attempt to grab this.

It might sound like a somewhat comical alternative to the high-flying magical action described in JK Rowling's bestselling books, but muggle quidditch has grown steadily in popularity.

USQuidditch estimates there are now more than 300 teams worldwide, in countries including Belgium, Uganda and Vietnam.

For the national teams, the ultimate goal is making it to the annual Quidditch World Cup, organised by the sport's own version of Fifa, the International Quidditch Association. Twenty-three countries will compete in this year's tournament, which will be hosted by Frankfurt, Germany, on 23 and 24 July.

In the UK, regional teams can also try their luck in the British Quidditch Cup, organised by governing body QuidditchUK. Sixteen teams from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland competed in the 2016 tournament, which was won by the University of Oxford's Radcliffe Chimeras.

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