Quidditch isn’t just for those at Hogwarts anymore.
And, for the second time, a tournament is coming to Surrey, when the city will play host to the Western Regional Quidditch Championships in 2019 after winning its bid.
The event is set to take place at Hjorth Road Park (10275 148th St.) on Nov. 9 and 10 in 2019, Quidditch Canada announced on Aug. 10.
The sport is becoming more mainstream, if you ask Sachin Kotecha, bidding and league tournament manager for Quidditch Canada.
“It’s definitely more known now, but you still definitely get the looks of surprise and there are still people who are very surprised it’s a sport,” he told the Now-Leader.
“The question you always get is, ‘Do you fly?’ Unfortunately, no,” Kotecha laughed.
What started as a fictional game in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has become a popular sport around the world, with an estimated 600 athletes in Canada alone.
Quidditch involves two teams, made up of at least seven players, who must mount broomsticks at all times during play.
There are four main positions: Chaser, beater, keeper and seeker. The goal of the game is to score more points that the opposing team.
Kotecha said he got involved with Quidditch Canada after playing in his first and second year of university.
“It was just something different, and something I had heard about,” he told the Now-Leader.
“Also, I think the concept that it’s a mixed-gender, full-contact sport was pretty unique and interesting. And I heard it had a great community, so that drew me into the sport.”
Kotecha said the vast majority of teams competing in Quidditch Canada events are from universities, with a few community teams in the mix.
“We’re working, though, to create interest at a younger level,” he said, noting some cities are already working hard to generate that interest.
“So Guelph, (ON) they have one of the most developed programs,” said Kotecha.
“Good partnerships with elementary schools in the region and youth summer camps, so lots of sessions for younger kids to teach them how to play. It’s pretty common in Alberta, too.”
Currently, no teams are registered in Surrey, he noted.
“The UBC team would be the closest,” said Kotecha. “But there could be, because this tournament is two years down the road. If there’s interest, check out our website, quidditchcanada.com. We will always help teams get started.”
Kotecha said hosting these events is becoming “very popular” for cities across the country because “it’s very different” and “gets a younger audience, too.”
“I’ve worked with cities across Canada,” he said. “And this isn’t actually the first time it’s come to Surrey. Surrey hosted this exact same event two years ago.”
That event was the runner-up for the City of Surrey’s inaugural Sport in the City Award.
“So we are definitely getting more recognition,” Kotecha said of Quidditch Canada, which was formed in 2014 to “lead, promote and advance the sport of quidditch in Canada.”
Kotecha noted planning the events two years in advance “brings us in line with other Canadian sport organizations” and “allows our host cities to have more time to help us create memorable events.”
Quidditch Canada says it’s the first quidditch organization in the world to successfully implement a multi-year bidding cycle.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner expressed her excitement about the event in a statement, saying the 2019 tournament will be a “unique opportunity for us to host a growing sport with a dedicated community of players.”
“It is also a chance to showcase the game to those not familiar with it,” she added, “and hopefully inspire a few to take up this fun and inclusive sport.”
Meantime, the University of Victoria will host the 2018/19 Western Regional Championship on Nov. 10 and 11 this year.
McMaster University in Ontario will host the 2019 national championships on March 23 and 24 next year.
And, the University of Alberta will host the following years’ national tournament, on March 28 and 29, 2020.