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Quidditch Association Makes Home in Bedford

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The fictional world of Harry Potter is becoming somewhat of a reality for some Bedford residents.

The International Quidditch Association opened its headquarters in Bedford Hills earlier this year and the hope is that the sport will not only grow locally, but gain even more momentum worldwide.

“We opened our first office here because we were given free office space by one of our partners,” said Alex Benepe, president of the IQA. The IQA office is located at 258 Route 117 by Pass Road in Bedford Hills. “It is also close to my home, which is in NYC, but also has more places to play and organize games. We are slowly building up local contacts and we will be gradually creating a local league as more teams form at schools.”

Kathy Storfer, who schedules children’s programs at the Bedford Hills Free Library, said she was excited when she first heard there was a Quidditch headquarters in town.

“Are you kidding me?” Storfer said. “It’s great. It’s only two blocks away from home.”

Quidditch is a sport invented by author J.K. Rowling in her immensely popular Harry Potter series. In the books, the sport involves magic, flying brooms, and other mystical elements.  In 2005, Benepe and a friend, Xander Manshel, developed real life game called muggle Quidditch. Muggle is a term used in the series to denote non-magical folk.

“My classmate, Xander, and I started the sport when we were freshmen at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005,” Benepe said. “Xander is still involved and is on our board of directors. He was the one who came up with the idea of adapting it from the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter books. Rowling had a great idea when she invented the fantasy sport, but Xander added his own brand of brilliance by adapting it to real-life in a successful way that no one else thought of before.”

Benepe said Monday’s exhibition match at Bedford Hills Elementary School marked the first time that a match was played in the town, but the Briarcliff Quidditch team and the Croton-Harmon High School team have been playing locally. Croton-Harmon High School also hosted a tournament in June.

Right now, there isn’t any push to form a professional Quidditch league or to make the sport an Olympic event, Benepe said.

“Right now we are focusing on the Fifth Annual World Cup event, which is our biggest event all year,” Benepe said.” It will be taking place on November 12-13 in NYC and we have 100 college and high school teams coming, over 2,000 players, and expect a turnout of around 30,000 spectators.”

According to Benepe, World Cup games will take place at Randall’s Island on 10 fields and there will be live music, including a major headlining artist.

Benepe said that he isn’t worried that momentum for the new sport will slow down now that Rowling has completed the Potter series.

“I think we grew large enough during the series' peak years that we have now generated enough momentum to not only keep going but also continue to grow and expand,” Benepe said. “We are getting 30 new teams per month and the World Cup has been doubling in size every year since 2007.”

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