At first, I thought it was a joke! A colleague's stag party or something... It's fashionable to invent concepts.
The clue was brief and enigmatic: "experience immersion through Harry and Hermione's sport". You can imagine the jokes and innuendo from the colleagues...
We met at 5.30pm on Thursday on a large esplanade in the Bois de Vincennes. Jogging suits and trainers were a must. Large hoops segmented a field, covered with balls of various sizes. Dozens of "brooms" (actually sticks) were waiting for us to get on them.
We were about to take part in a Quidditch initiation!
Qui-what? Quidditch, the sport of the famous wizard Harry Potter and developed as a real sport by several clubs throughout Europe.
The principle? 2 teams of 7 players riding broomsticks. The aim is to score as many goals as possible and catch a magic ball, the golden snitch. The goals are made up of rings placed at the top of large posts. There are 3 on each side of the pitch, each of a different height. They are placed in a goal area where only the chaser in possession of the "souafle" (another bright red ball) can enter. If either side manages to steal the "golden snapper", that's the end of the match and victory.
As with any activity, there wassome reluctance in the first few minutes. Fear of too intense an effort... The apprehension of not getting into the game... We could never have imagined such an addiction...
The initiation takes place in 3 stages. A first part during which we are taught the rules. There are so many of them... They are fascinating and really fun. A short jog over a few metres and then we discover the different balloons.
The second part is based on training and first passes. One session particularly entertained our team. A tennis ball in a sock (actually the "golden snitch") was attached to the back of our trousers. In pairs, each of us had to try and snatch the precious ball from the person opposite us. Easy like that. Impossible in real life. Except for our famous Charlène, who managed, after only two attempts, to snatch the coveted object from our HRD, who will never make Quidditch his new passion...
The 3rd part of the activity is the apotheosis: the match! Against theFrench Quidditchteam! Yes, there really is a national team, and they were training right next to us from the start. We didn't pay them any attention, so focused were we on our efforts and progress! Now we're going to beat them! We motivate each other. I come out of my usual reserve to shout the name of our company to everyone, followed by a motivating and invigorating "World Champion! "which is both motivating and invigorating. The slogan is taken up immediately and everyone takes their place on the pitch. Ready for battle.
Did I ever tell you about Zinedine? The team's IT man. Quiet, shy, solitary... During the ' Axe Throwing ' outing(see the debrief here), he distinguished himself by never having hit the target... in 6 attempts. Positioned next to me in the field, he hadn't said a word since the start of the activity. But I notice an unusual look in his eyes. His eyes are fixed on the ball, and you can feel the fury of victory. Astonishing!
The match lasts around twenty minutes. Blow for blow, an almost perfect tie. Of course, the French team is rather lenient despite our over-motivation. But the 23rd minute marked my day and my vision of my little Zinedine, to whom I realised I had spoken far too little.
The game was taking place on the left-hand side of the pitch. I rush over. A shadow almost hits me head-on. I escaped a shock that was going to be violent. It's Zinedine who, in a frenzy for some reason, turns into Usain Bolt. A real sprint towards a lone player at the other end of the pitch.
Then his body leaps into the air like a rugby player flattening a try. His arms reached out and grabbed the back of the player's shorts, and he didn't even have time to understand what had happened. Zinedine had just identified the "Vif d'Or" and, incredibly, managed to snatch it from its owner.
The whole team is stunned by this, which signals the end of the game and our group's victory over the French team... thanks to our colleague, whose presence we almost didn't know we had until 20 minutes ago. Zinedine President! It was like wanting to inscribe him on the Arc de Triomphe... What a pleasure to see him throw his arms up to the sky and shout his victory. It was quite an experience, one we'll remember for a long time...
The group photo is compulsory. We immortalise the moment, brooms between our legs, souafles and vif d'or in our hands. Cheese" is replaced by the new cry of victory that will surely follow us around the office for months to come: "We're world champions! "
When's the next outing, boss?
Let me remind you that they've made me throw axes, ride a broom... next month, I think I'll end up on the moon! From now on, I won't doubt anything.