Levelling the playing field - gender inclusivity in quidditch - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Levelling the playing field - gender inclusivity in quidditch

18 Mar 2019

Quidditch – a game imagined from the Harry Potter novels that has gone on to become a widely popular sport across the globe – has always strived to foster a community of gender inclusivity, providing a safe place for males, females, and non-binary people to participate together in a competitive sport.

As a concept, total gender inclusivity on the playing field is still relatively unique – especially when it comes to the acceptance and legitimisation of non-binary genders – even though it should be the norm.

Gender equality in sport has always been hotly debated – women are less active than men in team and club sports, and sport has traditionally excluded non-binary people because they don't strictly identify as either male or female, meaning they are forced to play club sports as a gender that isn’t their own.

Since its inception, the quidditch community has aimed to change this status quo, promoting gender inclusivity in its rulebook. No more than four players of any gender (male, female, or non-binary) may be on the pitch at the same time. The sport of quidditch is, as far as we know, unique in its acceptance and legitimisation of non-binary genders.

Author: Annie Partick

USC Quidditch League President

info@uscquidditch.com

Action speaks louder than words

At the USC Quidditch League, we have always strived to uphold this standard of gender inclusivity. Our club leadership has always been predominantly female, and we’re proud of and grateful for what our women have brought to the league.

Our representative team, the USC Dementors, attended the 2018 Australian Quidditch Championships with a majority-female team, and were one of the only teams who fielded a female keeper. We came ninth overall – our best result ever.

Each year we help to organise an event called Level the Playing Field, which focuses on the development and empowerment of women and non-binary quidditch players in Queensland.

This is an opportunity for these players, particularly those new to the sport who might be less confident in their sporting ability, to train and play together, improving their skills in an environment free from judgement or criticism. We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from this event, and it’s something we plan to continue into the future.

USC Quidditch League players cheering at the Australian Quidditch Championships. Photo: Jane Larkin

Sounds good...but what is quidditch? 

Quidditch was imagined from the mind of J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter novels. But it has grown beyond the books to take on a life of its own.

It is best described as being a full-contact sport - like a combination of rugby, dodgeball, and OzTag.

Chasers use the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball) to score goals through their opponents’ hoops, while the keeper defends them. Beaters throw bludgers (dodgeballs) to knock opponents out of play. Seekers fight to catch the snitch, which is a ball in a sock attached to a neutral player’s pants.

The game is played on plastic broomsticks, which act as a handicap for players. The sport is complex, and can seem chaotic to the uninitiated. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s a fast-paced, adrenaline-filled, rewarding sport to play.

Time to recognise the future

Looking forward, we’d love for quidditch to be recognised as an official sport, in Australia and worldwide.

Growth in the sport would mean more exposure, and more opportunities for women and non-binary people to get involved with quidditch at a level that suits them, socially or competitively.

We’re also looking at creating a dedicated Kidditch league to take to schools in the Sunshine Coast area, so kids can get involved with the sport.

Physical activity, especially team sports, is so important for kids, and we think quidditch is a great way to get kids of all genders and fitness levels to get involved.

And the attraction of the Harry Potter aspect is something that may encourage kids who like books more than sports to participate.

Visit the USC Quidditch League Facebook page or website if you’re interested in playing or learning more about the league.

Players of all levels and backgrounds are welcome.

Players at the Australian Quidditch Championships. Photo: Jane Larkin