Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Quidditch Launches in Vietnam

Alex Nguyen, one of the founders of quidditch in Vietnam, told us a bit about the sport’s growth in that country. To see more, check out this video of the team.

Quidditch Post: Where did you first hear about quidditch?
Nguyen: I went to Ohio State University (OSU) back in 2008, and I saw the quidditch team practice in the campus Oval. Just like everyone else, I had a bit of double-take, but I was a huge Harry Potter fan, so I decided to give it a shot. The rest is history.

QP: How did your quidditch team begin?
Nguyen: To be exact, it started from a fun bet between two executive members of our affiliated fan organization, HogwartsVN. One guy challenged another to put together a quidditch team from absolute random strangers online and fight against him, the prize being free lunch or something. Somehow, we actually had eight people turn up the first day, which was a something of a shock. We hadn’t really known what to expect because Vietnam is a very conservative country. Quidditch is a weird sport--I mean, even in the United States, a lot of people consider it bizarre. In Vietnam, the challenge of overcoming that immediate bias is tripled. So to actually have eight people turn up, just because of a bet no less, was really cool. I thought to myself, “Wow, this can actually work!” So I came up with a name and gave our designer an idea of what I wanted for a logo, a mascot, and team colors so we’d be set on a uniform. With that, we recruited more members for frequent practices. That’s how it all started.  

QP: Tell us more about your team name and mascot.
Nguyen: It’s something I’m quite proud of: GiantsQuid. It’s abbreviated from Giants Quidditch. “Giants” sounds like a Muggle mascot. “Quidditch” is self-explanatory. When you put the two together, you get GiantsQuid, which can also be read as “Giant Squid,” that holy animal of the Black Lake, which is also our mascot.

QP: Is everyone on your team a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies?
Nguyen: In the beginning, we all were. Like I said, we originally were pulled from a bigger fan organization, so all of us were hardcore Potterheads. However, as the team grew, we attracted more and more non-fan members.

QP: What is your specific involvement with your quidditch team?
Nguyen: I am the founder, captain/president, and treasurer.

QP: Are there other teams in the area that you play against?
Nguyen: Not at the moment, no. It’s hard enough to have only one team in the most active city of the country. Even in the whole of Southeast Asia, there is only one other team in Malaysia. There are people in the Philippines who are putting together a team, so we’re looking forward to that. For now, we split our own team in two for games and practices. We haven’t participated in tournaments yet.

QP: How often do you practice or have games?
Nguyen: Every Sunday.

QP: Do you play by the official IQA rulebook?  Are there any differences that you know of?
Nguyen: When we first started, there were too few people, so we generally kept the principles of IQA rules, but gave it a few twists to fit with our team. For example, we played with only one keeper, one beater, two chasers each team, and no seeker. And then, because the size of our pitch was too small and because there is no park large enough in the city central, we only played with one hoop on each side. We had to have the players pass the quaffle to their teammates three times before scoring a goal. It was absolutely chaotic and nerve-wracking, but very exciting! Now, because we have enough people and a large enough pitch, we play by the IQA rulebook. However, we still don’t have grass field so we play on concrete!

QP: How big is quidditch (or Harry Potter) in Vietnam?
Nguyen: Harry Potter is a big thing almost everywhere, but I have to say that it’s not nearly as big here in Vietnam as it is in Western countries. Education here doesn’t value physical training at all, so that’s another challenge for a quidditch team in Vietnam. However, now that we’re up and running, the attention we get from the press is absolutely overwhelming. Our practice last week attracted national TV reporters. And up until this point, we have been featured in many youth magazines in the country. I would say we’re growing fast.

QP: Would you consider traveling to other countries or even continents to play quidditch?
Nguyen: In the long run, yes, but I still have no idea how to make that happen. It costs $1000 per player to physically get the team to the United States for World Cup. To give you a big picture: the average income of a Vietnamese person is $1900 a year; it’s a poor country. The only feasible option we have right now is to organize a regional tournament in Asia or Oceania. I talked to the captain of the Malaysian team, and we are looking into founding a Southeast Asian league too, if possible.

Information about our affiliated fan organization, HogwartsVN:
Full name: Vietnam Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Founded: 2012
Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/HogwartsVietnam
Website: http://hogwarts.vn
Number of fans: 44,000 (largest Harry Potter fan organization in Vietnam now)
Main work: fan community about all things Harry Potter, HPA Chapter, charity work, quidditch, etc.

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