Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Taiwan's First Taste of Quidditch

By Andrew Kasimir

When a quidditch player travels, they will wonder if where they are going has a quidditch community, hoping to join local teams for a pick-up or two. For Hao-Ting Wang, things were a bit different. Originally from Taiwan, Wang moved to the United Kingdom to further her studies, where she got involved with quidditch.

For somebody such as Wang, who lives and breathes quidditch, returning to Taiwan where quidditch is not widely played was a bitter pill to swallow. No weekly scrimmages, no tournaments to look forward to, and, quite simply, no fun.

Wang was initially unsure about introducing the game of quidditch to Taiwan, but the HogYork Horntails and Leeds Griffins player eventually spearheaded a couple taster sessions in March 2015 and has hosted weekly practices since April.  
Photos Courtesy of Hao-Ting Wang
Quidditch Post: What made you want to start quidditch in Taiwan?
Wang: The reason for starting up quidditch in Taiwan is simple. I want to be able to play no matter, whether I’m in the UK or in Taiwan.
QP: How were you introduced to quidditch?
Wang: I was first introduced to quidditch in the UK by an American student during a welcoming party. She encouraged me to try the sport out and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

However, it was only after my first tournament, the 2014 Northern Cup in Keele, that I started dedicating more of time to quidditch. I loved how intense and exciting every game was and found myself coming back for more.
I especially enjoyed the warm and friendly quidditch community in the UK. As long as you want to play quidditch, they’ll welcome you and show you the ropes. It was the UK community that gave me the courage to introduce quidditch to Taiwan.
QP: So far, what have people’s reaction been to quidditch in Taiwan?
Wang: Like most places, many say quidditch is a unique sport. And of course you have those who say it’s weird, stupid, or it started in the movie The Internship. People here quite like the idea of playing a game based on the Harry Potter series, but I’ve been struggling to find players to play it properly by following the official rulebook. A few of the people I’ve spoken to have only played quidditch casually at university festivals, which have very different rules.
I have been in touch, however, with two universities who host quidditch tournaments for fun and provided them with a simplified version of the rulebook in Mandarin. Hopefully they’ll start playing by the official rules soon.
Overall, it’s been quite tough promoting quidditch here. In Taiwan, full contact sports are considered to be violent, and when potential players find out they tend to get a bit worried.
Besides physicality of the game, a friend of mine mentioned that the complexity of quidditch could be a hurdle in promoting the sport. I don’t agree with him, though, because baseball was once a popular sport here in Taiwan.
QP: How are you running your weekly sessions?
Wang: I start off by introducing the basic rules and positions. After that I move on to throwing drills and a bit of basic gameplay. The regulars have been complaining about the lack of gameplay, but that isn’t possible yet because the turnout is usually fewer than seven people. Once more people start turning up, we can at least play a 5 vs. 5 game.

I’m also planning on organising a small event for us to watch Mudbloods together. I think it’s the perfect film to watch to get people excited about being part of the quidditch community.

QP: What do you hope to see in the next 6 to 12 months?
Wang: I’m not going to be in Taiwan for the next 3 to 4 years, so I’ll be trying to get as many people as possible to try quidditch out and possibly set up a team during my time here. It sounds like quite a big task, but I’m willing to give it a go.

I’ve recently contacted the biggest Potterhead community in Taiwan to get them involved, hopefully to attract more people to the taster sessions. Besides that, I’m thinking of organising small fantasy tournaments because it seems to be quite successful with some universities here, though most fantasy tournaments don’t play by the official rules.

I’ve also noticed many Taiwanese students play quidditch in the United States. If at least a few of them come back during the summer break, we could plan a few events or simply just help get the word out about quidditch in Taiwan.
Lastly, I hope to see Taiwan send a team to the Asian Quidditch Cup next year in 2016. It’s a longshot but a lot can happen in a short amount of time.
QP: What are your thoughts on the quidditch community in Asia?
Wang: As of now, it’s small, cozy, and full of potential. I especially love how everybody is helping each other out, sharing information, and ultimately becoming good friends. It’s so exciting and such a great way to start. I’m really looking forward to seeing more teams and tournaments in Asia!

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