Straight from the grounds of Hogwarts comes Quidditch. A real sport that has picked up quite a following in recent years. So much so, that there is an official Quidditch League! One of London’s most well known Quidditch teams is the London Unspeakables. The following is our Quick Sweat interview with Emma, a proud team member of the London Unspeakables:
Just how tough it is. I've lost a stone and a half since I started training and playing, and I'm the fittest I've ever been. It's really intense cardio - there's no kick-off after your team scores, you have to rush back to defence - and it's also rough. Six foot plus blokes tackle me, because it's mixed gender (male, female and non-binary), and full contact. If you wouldn't play rugby, don't be prepared to play Quidditch.
I think the inclusivity aspect is important to emphasise, too. Being truly mixed gender, and so welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, is wonderful, and probably the aspect I love most about the sport.
I wanted to get fit; I wanted to try a team sport, having previously trained in individual pursuits like martial arts; I wanted to meet new friends; I was simply curious.
Just how professional it is. When I went to my first training session, I thought it'd be full of 18-year-olds, that men wouldn't play, cos they'd think it was too silly, and that it would be more akin to LARPing or cosplaying. I couldn't have been more wrong. Everyone was wearing proper kits, the coaching was impressive, people knew their stuff, they were athletic - and there were more blokes than women! Over the 16 months I've been playing, I've seen efforts within the community to professionalise even more, in terms of coaching, athleticism, structure and organisation. It's an exciting time to be part of this sport.
Our first team, the Unspeakables, came third at the Southern Regional Tournament, and will be pushing to get the club's first ever European spot at the European Qualifying Tournament, taking place in Stratford, London, at the end of January. We can definitely brag about that, because it’s the culmination of a good few seasons of damn hard work. We can also brag about being perhaps the only true community team in UK Quidditch. Most other teams are affiliated to universities, or are made up of graduate quidditch players, who tend to be at the elite end of the sport. At Unspeakables, we aim high, but we want everyone to play, hence why we’re a multi-team club. We have players in their 30s as well as 20s, and people from a wide variety of places and backgrounds. That’s wonderful - you’re hanging out with these people every week, people you might not ordinarily meet, getting fitter, learning new skills, helping one another and travelling to different places (I’ve played in Southampton, Warwick, York, Edinburgh and Kent since I’ve started, and friends have played in the World Cup in Florence, and tournaments in Bratislava and Barcelona). That’s definitely something to brag about.
I think enjoying what you do, and what your body can do, is important. I love how good exercise makes me feel, and I also feel lucky that I can do anything at all - I have friends my age with limited mobility due to certain health conditions, and I feel so grateful that I can run, throw and catch, however badly I do those things! One thing I struggle with and am working on is focusing on my own development, rather than comparing myself to others. It’s hard in a team situation, where your friends are also your rivals, and you can’t help but compare progress. My philosophy, and aim for 2019, is to concentrate more on what I can already do, and what I can do to improve, making sure I create time to be active in my day-to-day schedule.
Quidditch is entirely free to play and the London Unspeakables have a taster session running Saturday 5th January. However, everyone is welcome to attend any of the training sessions to give Quidditch a go! More details can be found at: https://www.gosweat.com/profile/the-london-unspeakables/activity/unspeakables-training-1126716