by Laurie Rabin | January 25th, 2012
They never said anything about first years borrowing brooms…
Photo by Alex Goldman
This September the Tufts University Tufflepuffs, taking a break from their rigorous World Cup training, participated in their school’s annual Community Day by welcoming local kids of all ages on to their pitch to learn how to play quidditch. While a few team members finished setting up hoops, kids and team members got to know one another by shouting their names as loudly as possible in unison and discussing their favorite Harry Potter books and movies. After going over the basic rules of muggle quidditch, a quick stretch and warm-up, and a lively debate about whether Ginny Weasley played seeker or chaser for Gryffindor (it turns out she played both), the team and their new young friends broke into two teams and got ready for the ref’s “BROOMS UP!”
Despite some children being too tiny (and too adorable) to hold a broom and ball simultaneously, the kids and the team had a wicked time and are hoping to make kidditch a regular site around Tufts’ home cities of Medford and Somerville, MA.
Want to run a kidditch game? Here are the Top 5 Tips to run your very own kidditch event:
Plan in advance, advertise, and fundraise
To plan a kidditch event, you first need the kids!
Finding the right venue at which to organize a game of kidditch is really important. However you organize it, make sure the adults involved understand the nature of the game, and particularly that kidditch is a less physical adaptation of any muggle quidditch they may have seen.
A few ways in which a kidditch match may be set up include:
- through community or service days that your team’s school already holds
- through local libraries, community centers, or children’s book clubs
- through local elementary schools, after-school programs, or camp programs
- in conjunction with college or high school tournaments or matches
- in conjunction with Harry Potter events
Depending on the venue, it may be possible to charge a small fee to the event host to pay for any necessary equipment and as a fundraiser for your team.
At the game is also a prime time for fundraising and advertising. T-shirts or other team merchandise are a big hit with the kids. Additionally, telling both the children and their parents when your matches are going to take place can bring in community fans to your games. And what could be cuter than little fans?
Prepare your team for the event
Before jumping in to the event, make sure your team is prepared. It is important for team members to remember to be friendly and look like they are enjoying themselves at all times (which shouldn’t be too hard because it is quidditch!). Kids will be looking up to you as a high school or college team, and if you think something is cool, they will as well. If this quidditch game is the most fun you have ever had (which it will be), than it will also be the most fun that they’ve ever had and they will want to keep coming back for more. Additionally, ensure that your team understands the age group of children you will be playing with, and what rules have been altered to accommodate their abilities.
When you are teaching the kids what quidditch is, begin with a short demo match played by your team (sans intense physical aggression). As many players already know, understanding how to play quidditch is much easier once you’ve seen a team in action.
The younger the children are, the more help they will need from your team during game play. Have your team spread out across the field directing children about which balls to use and what to do with them, especially during their very first game. If you have enough team members present, you may be able to pair up team members with kids to help them through understanding the roles of each position during their first game. After the first game, older kids may benefit from your players taking a step back into a coaching position.
It is also generally a good idea to have a team member, rather than a child, be the snitch. It is the most fair, and the experienced snitches can really make the games exciting for the kids.
Emphasize safety and sportsmanship
While we often claim that safety is the #1 priority at IQA games, safety is the ultimate end all and be all of kidditch games. Kidditch games, unlike IQA games, should not be played as a full contact sport. It is generally best to enforce that children do not become physical with one another at all to ensure no risk of injury. Stress that brooms are meant only for game play, and must stay between a player’s legs at all times. Hand a child a broom and tell him or her to run free, and the next thing you know birds have been knocked out of the air, and the child has poked another child in the eye in a broom “sword” fight. Teaching children to use sports equipment safely and properly, even if that equipment is a broom, is the responsibility of older and experienced athletes. Additionally, emphasize the differences between muggle quidditch and Harry Potter quidditch—even though Ron is pictured in the movies whacking a ball with his broom, this is not something that is done in muggle quidditch, as it could be potentially dangerous.
Kidditch games are also an ideal environment to foster sportsmanship skills among children. Cheering on teammates and shaking hands with the other team are a must—sometimes the kids have learned so much about sportsmanship, they insist on shaking hands with the other team. As role models, quidditch players should not tolerate teasing or putting down of any kid players—be especially aware of the interactions of boys and girls, as young kids may be likely to tease players of the opposite gender. Kidditch has great potential to create an environment for collaborative play between all children, and demonstrating sportsmanly conduct is the key.
Encourage fun for all ages
Children of different ages will require different adaptation of the IQA rules. When deciding how to teach and run the game for children, consider the following factors:
- Young children (6 years and younger) may have difficulty remembering the differences between positions. They may try to throw bludgers through hoops, or the keeper may decide to try to catch the snitch. With children this young, while it is great to go over the different positions and corresponding balls, allow children to experiment. Remind them what the goals for their positions are, but let the rules a bit loose.
- Elementary age children (7-10) can follow the rules more closely and therefore the rules should be more strictly enforced. Clearly outline why each position is so important, what balls are for which positions, and how to score points or help your team. Children this age are more capable of working together, so really boost the team morale, and make sure everyone is doing their part.
- Middle school children (11-13) are (hopefully) heading towards a future on IQA high school teams. With these children, after they get the hang of game play, discussions about basic strategy could be really interesting and provide for more vibrant game play.
Remember that the goals of kidditch are safety and fun. Make sure to allow kids to try out many different positions. Sometimes everyone wants to be Seeker because that is what Harry plays—discuss the other characters that play other positions—but at the very end, you may want to let everyone play whatever position is their favorite. It is okay if you have 5 beaters and only 2 chasers, as long as the kids are playing safely and having fun. And when you have 20 kids running after the snitch? Well, that snitch better have some fancy tricks up her sleeve!
Kidditch events are the ideal place to fulfill one of the IQA’s major goals: promoting literacy. At the Tufts kidditch event, one young girl clearly felt proud to boast that she had only seen the first three Harry Potter movies—she is in the middle of the forth book and did not want to ruin the endings of the other books. Past kidditch events have featured dramatic readings of Harry’s first snitch catch, lively conversations about what characters played each quidditch position, and perhaps most importantly, how exciting reading (even books other than Harry Potter) can be. As role models to aspiring quidditch players (which is what every kid will be after a day of quidditch), IQA quidditch players have a unique opportunity to inspire future generations to be active, intelligent, and creative—don’t let it fly by.
Special thanks to Sarah Landis and Anna Brisbin of NYU Quidditch, Zachary Cornett and Bridget Siegel of Florida Quidditch, and Katie Stack of BU Quidditch for sharing their kidditch expertise!