SHE spends every Friday evening competing with her friends, trying to get a ball into a hoop.
But Jeslin Tay Li Jin, 21, is not a forward for a netball or basketball team – she plays Quidditch.
And she’s among 20 hardcore fans of the Harry Potter books and movies who gather regularly to bring to life the fictitious game of Quidditch, which is played among the young wizards and witches at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in a world where humans without magical talents are called Muggles.
Miss Tay, a third-year life sciences student from the National University of Singapore (NUS), first learnt about the Muggles’ version of the sport while on an overseas exchange programme at Boston University in the United States.
She said: “I was curious about how it felt like to run with a broom and decided to give it a try.
“It was embarrassing at first. But my teammates were really supportive and I grew to like the sport.”
Miss Tay introduced Quidditch to the NUS community when she returned from her exchange programme in December last year.
She created a Facebook page and group for the sport, and the idea spread through word-of-mouth.
The interest group, which consists mainly of NUS students, has been playing regularly at the NUS University Town since February.
According to Miss Tay, the game is similar to the one described in the books – with a few notable Muggles exceptions. Instead of flying around, real-life Quidditch players run around the pitch while “riding” on broomsticks.
While Quidditch players elsewhere in the real world use actual broomsticks, Miss Tay’s group uses sticks made of sponge for safety reasons.
Each team is made up of seven players who try to score goals by putting a volleyball through a hoop, and the team that scores the most goals wins.
No ‘official’ status
Unlike the fictional Hogwarts, where Quidditch is a main sport of the school, at NUS, the sport is not even official yet. Miss Tay intends to change that.
She has applied for Quidditch to become an official sport under the NUS Sports Club.
The team meets to play every Friday evening, and Miss Tay believes that her group is the only one playing Quidditch here regularly.
Mr Calvin Teo, 26, a civil servant, is one of the regular players in the team.
He said: “Quidditch is a pretty exciting and fast sport. I started playing for the adrenaline rush.”
Said Mr Teo, who’s a friend of Miss Tay’s and was invited to play with her team: “When I told my friends that I play Quidditch, they actually asked if they could try it as well.”
But will the game be taken as seriously as other sports?
Miss Ong Yi Ni, 22, an NUS third-year student in life sciences, said she wouldn’t join the Quidditch team even if the game becomes official in NUS.
Said the floorball player with the NUS team, who joined the Quidditch team for a game once: “It (Quidditch) probably won’t be as intense or as competitive as a real sport.
“It’s interesting, but will people be interested for long?”
Still, Miss Wong Xiang Yi, 21, who’s part of the Quidditch team, said she hopes the sport will gain mainstream acceptance and become as popular as it is in the Potter books.
Said the NUS third-year life sciences student: “We hope that even non-Harry Potter fans will try it.”