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Still-growing Burnaby Boggarts eager to watch Quidditch Global Games
In July, Burnaby will host the Quidditch Global Games – a real-life war of the worlds between the sport's eight top nations, and the closest thing you'll see to the World Cup you watched in the intro to The Goblet of Fire.
But Quidditch isn't necessarily arriving in Burnaby.
The city already has a university team at Simon Fraser, started last September, to go along with college teams at UBC, UVic, and others over-the-border, like at Western Washington in Bellingham.
And there are the Burnaby Boggarts, a brand-new and eager-to-stay club team.
"All of us were new to the sport," says Alyssa Hardy, the Boggarts' manager and co-founder with the team's captain, Selena. "It just sort of came from there."
Hardy says she "discovered" the game – the real version of it, the Muggle version, as Rowling diehards refer to it – with call outs on social media sites and online forums, the sort of hubs where Harry Potter fans would gather.
"I love Quidditch because I love team sports," Hardy says. "I grew up loving Harry Potter, and wanting to be a part of that world."
Hardy goes to SFU and is in the midst of completing her undergrad with a major in English, with the goal of eventually becoming a teacher.
The 20-year-old also played soccer until she was 15, and she was looking for something else active to sink herself into when Quidditch came across her screen.
"This was a good way for me to get more into sports and back into an active lifestyle," she says.
"It's definitely a great sport and it's definitely great to see it growing and getting more recognition."
It took a while for the Boggarts to get off the ground, Hardy says, but they are now practicing routinely at Central Park, and will be this summer in Slocan Park.
The Boggarts are looking for more players – they only have three people who are aggressively out on the field every week now – but there are a few more regulars "who would consider themselves Boggarts," says Hardy.
And Hardy – who plays both Keeper and Chaser – is hoping the Global Games only pushes her sport and her team further into the consciousness of other Burnaby-area athletes, maybe to some who are looking for a new sport, a new challenge the way she was only a few months ago.
"I think it's super exciting," Hardy says of the Global Games. "It'll be nice to have people all over the world here for Quidditch, that's awesome.
"This area doesn't have a lot of exposure for Quidditch... I think it's a growing sport. I know that I got into it because I love Harry Potter, but I know there's a lot of people who have never read about it, but see it, play it, and fall in love with it."
Now, be warned... Quidditch may not seem like the most attractive sport, or the coolest, to everybody.
It looks pretty goofy, with Muggles running around with brooms between their legs, throwing dodge balls back and forth while a Snitch (a real person with a tennis ball in a tube sock attached to his/her belt) aggressively evades everyone.
Even the most devoted Quidditch athlete will admit it's silly. And they can't even fly. Playing Quidditch for a first time is a little like singing in public – the pay-off isn't immediately there and you may wonder who's watching, but it doesn't mean it's not worth it and it doesn't mean you won't enjoy it.
"We get that a lot, because we practice at a public park," Hardy says of some curious gawking by passersby. "A lot of people walk by and don't know what's going on.
"It is very athletically taxing, it's a real sport... if you're into the athletic part of it, there's a place for you. But if you're there to have fun, there's a place for you there, too.
In Quidditch teams across the country, membership is built through diversity. Inclusion is important, especially for the world's only full contact co-ed sport, which Quidditch lovers are proud to brag about.
"It's such a community," Hardy says. "It's very accepting. People are just so willing to take you on and help you out. When we started, we had no idea what we were doing, but UBC and other Quidditch players really embraced (us) and I think that was so awesome to see."
With school teams like those out east – like the ones in Ottawa and at McGill in Montreal – and for Team Canada, current players come from sports of every style. Football players, rugby players and soccer players are there, fusing their skill sets with the serious rec culture of Ultimate, dodgeball, or handball.
But maybe it's unfair to equate every part of Quidditch with each other sport it borrows from.
"It's much more fast-paced than any sport I've played," says Hardy. "The play never really stops. As a soccer player, usually when someone shoots, the game stops for a minute... but with Quidditch, it's a lot of go, go, go, there's a lot more stamina required.
"It's a lot of fun and there's a high physical aspect, too."
The Boggarts are, right now, are Lilliputian in comparison to other global Quidditch communities. But in July, they'll have a front row seat to the rest of their world.
Action goes off at Burnaby's Lake Sports Complex West, on July 19, 2014. The eight teams taking part will be the defending champion United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Italy, France, Belgium, and of course the host nation, Canada.
"I won't be playing for Team Canada," says Hardy. "We, the Boggarts, are a fairly new team, but I'll definitely be out there and supporting them."
Photos: Quidditch practice in Burnaby, via the Boggarts on Facebook...