James Mortensen adds Quidditch World Cup to trophy cabinet

CAPTAIN: James Mortensen at the Quidditch World Cup in Frankfurt. PHOTO: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

CAPTAIN: James Mortensen at the Quidditch World Cup in Frankfurt. PHOTO: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

A FIT team of muggles, captained by former Camden Haven lad James Mortensen, brought home the Quidditch World Cup in July.

The Australian team, the Dropbears, snitched victory against the United States 150-130 and in the process, handed the US team their first ever loss.

Twenty-one teams from around the world competed for national pride at the tournament.

The world cup, played in Frankfurt Germany, saw the Dropbears notch up decisive victories against Germany (150-120), France (110-60) and Canada (90-40).

Their win in the final was even sweeter because the USA defeated Australia in the last world cup in 2014.

Quidditch, for those uninitiated to the sport, was played by some of the magical characters in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Players flew on broomsticks, used three balls, bats for defence and tried to score points by getting balls through hoops. One ball, the Golden Snitch, flies around the arena and, if caught, finishes the game and earns that team 150 points.

Back in the real world, players run around with sticks between their legs, mimicking the broomsticks in the fictional game. They sprint, tackle, throw, score and chase that all important golden snitch.

The real-life sport has been played for more than a decade.

James Mortensen’s father, Julien, is proud of his son’s achievements.

“I’m please that James has been able to do with his life what has pleased him rather than others. It’s fantastic for him and the team to be able to take time out of their lives to do something out of the ordinary,” Julien said.

James works and studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. He began playing Quidditch two years ago when living in Newcastle. Julien said James’ involvement was sparked by a woman.

IN ACTION: James Mortensen, right, during a state match of quidditch earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Quidditch Australia.

IN ACTION: James Mortensen, right, during a state match of quidditch earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Quidditch Australia.

“He said a girl he liked played the sport and he started playing to impress her. He’s not even a Harry Potter fan,” Julien said.

“He has always been athletic and studied martial arts.

“I’ve watched him play in Canberra and I liked it. It’s like watching Aussie Rules for the first time; you’re trying to work out what is happening, but it’s a very enjoyable game to watch.

“It’s challenging with a broom, it’s a handicap and brings athletic people and non-athletic people to the same level.

“It’s a sport where different people meet, particularly those who may not have been into sport before, and it’s been a successful social outlet.

“The Australian Institute of Sport is interested in the team and gave them a coach to prepare the team in the lead up to the world cup.”

As captain, Julien said, James has been instrumental in bringing the team together and all players had to fund their own way to the world cup.

”The players came from all over Australia and spent just one week together as a team training, before flying to Frankfurt,” Julien said.

“The team is self-funded and gained some sponsorship for their shirts. They did some fundraising to get there.”

Quidditch is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia. The number of non-Potter fans playing the sport is growing. Active people are drawn to the sport for its athletic quality.

“It’s a sport that awards quick decisions rather than speed,” Julien said.

“It’s a great sport that any skill can make a difference to a team.”

James went to Kendall Central School and Camden Haven High School. He is currently studying philosophy and completing a PhD. 

The next world cup will be played in 2018.

There are 300 quidditch teams world wide. Quidditch is played in Port Macquarie – check out their Facebook page for information if you’re interested in playing.

Alex Benepe, founder and commissioner of the International Quidditch Association said: “There's something very free about putting a cape on, and running around with a broom between your legs. It's this declaration like, I don't care if I look silly, I'm having a great time.”

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