Thursday, September 3, 2015

The State of South Australian Quidditch

By Stella Naylor

Quidditch is well established in Australia, with significant team presence in New South Wales and Victoria. Western Australia also boasts a strong quidditch community, already a few years in the making. What we’ve seen, however, is a distinct lack of development in South Australia (SA). Geographically, SA is perfectly positioned to reap the rewards of being surrounded by like-minded and motivated quidditch organisations, but progress has been slow. Despite this, the seeds of a new state league have been sown, and the South Australian Quidditch Association (SAQA) is setting itself up to be a contender on the national scale.

It’s a well-known phenomenon that things move slowly in Adelaide, SA. We don’t quite have the manpower of the eastern states or the progressive thinking that drives new initiatives and new behaviours. The first time I heard of quidditch was when my friend was chosen for Team Australia. At that point, the sport was really flying ahead in other parts of the country, but it hadn’t crossed the border to us. For us Adelaidians, quidditch was simply a whisper in the dusty wind.

I had to leave the country to get my first taste of the sport. It was when I was on exchange at the University of British Columbia (UBC); I joined the quidditch team and competed in USQ’s Northwest Region. I didn’t immediately realise how well I had positioned myself for the future by competing with this team. The 2014-15 season was the first for the Northwest, and as a new player I was able to reap the rewards of all the hard work previous players and organisers had put in before to create the structure of a new region. I was able to experience what it meant to be part of a passionate group of athletes fighting to prove themselves in a nationally well-established sport.

But my luck didn’t end there. Upon returning home, I discovered the Adelaide Augureys, a newly established community team in Adelaide, which I initially believed to be the first South Australian team ever. As in the Northwest, I was able to fit right in with a group of people who had already put in the time and effort to establish a team. It felt like the hard work had already been done. As it turned out, the Augureys were not the first South Australian team. Flinders University had attempted to run a university-based team that had been forced to fold soon after its establishment. Most of the former committed members of that university team now make up the Augureys.

Trying to form a team without the support of a state league or governing body is a tough gig. It’s even harder to get locals to take you seriously when you don’t have other teams against whom you can compete. What the Augureys have learned, however, is that you make the most of the skills you have. Denni Mackay (also known as the mother of SA Quidditch) brings a “let’s get things done attitude to the region; she has been responsible for most of the organisational specifics of launching SAQA and progressive growth for the Augureys. I was able to bring a bit of Northwest love to the state, running more focused and high-energy training sessions to convince the newcomers that quidditch was a real sport played by real athletes. With the support of enthusiastic players and a lot of SAQA Vice President Mackenzie James’s handiwork, we are now on track to take the Adelaide Augureys to Quidditch Universities of Australia Federation League (QUAFL) 2015 as a sort of quidditch debut for SA.

Progress may be slow in Adelaide, but we’re still progressing in the right direction. There are now whisperings of a few more community teams in the making, and the Flinders University team is being reformed thanks to Mackay’s relentless persistence. As always, it will take time to get SA to the level of the other Australian regions, but there are a lot of incredibly passionate and enthusiastic people here, ready to tackle big teams around the nation. In the meantime, keep an eye out for us at QUAFL – we’ll be the ones wandering around in green and gold, looking like all our dreams have come true.

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