Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Slovenia is Airborne

By Vid Rotvejn

No, we are not Slovakia, and we are certainly not a part of Russia. With one hand patting the tranquil shores of the Adriatic Sea and with the other proudly supporting the roots of the Eastern Alps, we are the small European country of Slovenia. We boast around two million inhabitants, vast forests, dazzling lakes, and, since October. 2015, a quidditch team. It started as just a handful of ludic friends chasing five poorly inflated balls around an oval field, firmly holding improvised brooms between their legs, but it soon began to attract more and more eager players. We even found ourselves under the spotlight of the media when an article about quidditch was published in the biggest Slovenian newspaper, Delo. That article is how I learned about quidditchs existence outside of Harry Potter.

Quidditch Ljubljana posing for a photo in the snow | Photo by Peter Buźaš

Sadly, my team consists primarily of diligent students, so we can only find time to train twice a week. This may seem inadequate, but everyone exercises on their own, and group trainings occur even when weather conditions are hostile. The latter can be quite a problem, as the meadow on which we sweat is situated outside in Tivoli, Ljubljana`s (the capital of Slovenia) main outdoor park. This means that our equipment is often soaking wet and that our shoes require extremely high maintenance there should be stricter rules against those who refuse to clean up after their dogs! Nevertheless, we are still glad to indulge in the game every Monday and Wednesday, always willing to explain to curious spectators what we are actually doing.

Our greatest aspiration for now is to participate in the World Cup in July. We have recently established a Slovenian national governing body, the Slovenian Quidditch Association. At present, it includes my team from Ljubljana and another team from Novo Mesto, a town in southern Slovenia. There is, however, one small problem. We in Ljubljana have not picked our clubs name yet, which is required if we want to apply for official status as a sports club. It is almost impossible to decide between Ljubljana Gravity Breakers and Proteus Ljubljana Quidditch Club (the proteus is an amphibian indigenous to Slovenias karst caves), but apart from this dispute, our team works as one.

The end of November 2015 was one of the most exciting times for Slovenian quidditch. Along with some of the new Italian teams, we received an invitation to a get-to-know-each-other weekend training session in Milan. It is probably moot to say that we accepted it without a second thought, and with smiles on our faces, we embarked on a journey to the fashion capital. A cornucopia of fresh impressions and a beautiful serene environment greeted us upon our arrival on Saturday, 28 November. Immediately we scattered along Milan’s paved medieval streets, cooling off in the shadow of the astonishing cathedral. The next day, after a relaxing night with our generous Italian hosts, serious quidditch commenced. Along with participants from all around Italy, we were dispersed into mixed teams, and no sooner had we mounted our brooms than the sun dried up the morning dew. This enjoyable weekend not only enhanced our quidditch capabilities but also proved that hard work and sweat certainly do pay off.

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Proteus Ljubljana Quidditch Club warming up before practice | Photo credit: Verena Deutsch

Having our time in Milan in mind, we became voracious for similar experiences. That is why there are some huge plans for quidditch in our area currently in the organizational process, possibly including teams from Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, and probably some others in our vicinity. You can expect them to come to life sometime at the end of March.

Quidditch does indeed have a long way to go before becoming ubiquitous in Slovenia, but the crucial first steps are now behind us, and we are eagerly anticipating what 2016 might hold for Slovenias ambitious quidditch endeavours. We are now airborne!

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