by Marysia Wójcik
This article is a part of the Quidditch Post series about an outsider’s perspective on the European Games. In this series, players from Australia, Canada, and the U.S. who went to the games in Sarteano, Italy give their impressions and perspectives on the tournament and compare gameplay to that of their home countries. We hope this will give readers outside of Europe a more tangible perspective on the European Games.
Last month, I had the honour of representing Poland in the IQA's first European Games, which was an especially wonderful opportunity for me as a Canadian of Polish descent.
I was delighted that, just like the quidditch players I know and love, Europe's athletes were simply wonderful people. I was coming to the tournament as an outsider, never having met my own team, much less anyone else involved in European quidditch. It was scary being thrust into what seems to me a very tight-knit community, but many players, staff, and volunteers embraced me with open arms. Cheers of "PO-LAND! PO-LAND!" followed me everywhere I went, and random people would come up to hug me, encourage me, and offer high-fives. As a member of one of the clear underdog teams – Ireland being the other – it was touching to see so many people expressing admiration that we had shown up at all with a team of seven.
|Team Poland | Photo credit: Ondrej Hujnak|
The quality of the refereeing was also fantastic. I've only worked with a handful of referees back home in Western Canada, and it was exciting to see so many individuals taking on the job in Sarteano. They were all extremely competent and aware, and they took their roles seriously. I hope we will continue working on this in Western Canada, as having a wide base of referees will help us continue to develop the sport, and because, as a player, being trained as a referee can never hurt.
In terms of the playing itself, I was very impressed. I expected strong British and French teams, but I was also particularly impressed by Spain, which I had heard to be inexperienced, and Norway. There's still quite a gap between the top few teams and the rest of the pack, but this is to be expected with a sport this new. Each team showed a lot of potential and had very talented players who will help their respective countries and teams develop even further. As a beater, I was most focused on that aspect of the game, and I saw a lot of the same strategies I was familiar with being used in the Games. Compared to my experience in Canada, I felt there was actually less tackling and less aggressive beating at the Games. For example, I was only face-beat once in the entire tournament, which I feel is a much more popular move in Canada. (We're not as nice as they say!) However, many players more than made up for this with other excellent strategies. I was especially impressed by lots of great catching, blocking, and very strong offensive beating.
|Team Spain | Photo credit: Ondrej Hujnak|
Compared to the tournaments I have attended in Western Canada, the European Games stood out in terms of the organizers’ collaboration with the town itself. Sarteano took the idea of quidditch and ran with it, creating contests and events for the whole town to enjoy. For residents of Sarteano and visitors to the area, the tournament itself was just a part of a Harry Potter weekend filled with concerts and markets, in addition to the Harry Potter-themed decorations everywhere. While the quidditch community has been slowly pulling away from the Harry Potter influence, this connection still draws the crowds and gets people excited, and it really worked in Sarteano. Tournament organizers everywhere should take note and see how they can encourage host towns and local businesses to get involved, even if it means highlighting the sport’s roots. The town of Sarteano really pulled off a successful, entertaining weekend, and it set the bar high for future quidditch events. Playing with Poland was a pleasure, and I would be thrilled to participate in more European quidditch events in the future.
About Marysia Wójcik:
Marysia was born and raised in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Both her parents are from Poland, and she therefore has a dual citizenship, which enabled her to play for the Polish national team at the European Games. Marysia first got interested in quidditch after an exhibition game between University of Calgary Mudbloods and Central Alberta Quidditch at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo in April 2013. She now plays for the Edmonton Aurors developmental team and the Alberta Clippers competitive team.