Tuesday, August 30, 2016

World Cup From Their Perspective: Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel

My name is Matthew Guenzel, and I was the Tournament Director for this summer’s IQA Quidditch World Cup. This was my ninth tournament acting as director-level staff in some capacity, and by far the most challenging yet.

I confess to having been ridiculously arrogant in my application for the position. The email I sent to the IQA hiring staff had the title line Help me run the best event in quidditch history, or something to that effect. It’s a miracle they didn’t just tell me to go away, if we’re being honest. Somehow, they believed I had the capacity to deliver, and they entrusted me with what I felt at the time, and still feel today, was the most important event in quidditch history.

A lot of people have thanked me and said wonderful things to me about the work we put into the event. I’ve got to take a minute and admit that I didn’t really do much. My involvement was essentially limited to coming up with new ideas (expo games, team training slots, referee workshops, the expansion fund, etc.) and then trying to convince the rest of the organising team to help me make it happen. The rest of the team deserves the credit for believing in what I said would work and then making it actually work.

Matthew Guenzel addressing the crowd as Tournament Director at World Cup 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany | Photo credit: Jelmer Lokman

A great deal of my work as Tournament Director revolved around the management of the organising team, and a good portion of that was directly related to keeping the staff happy and motivated. It’s hard to stay motivated as a volunteer giving 10+ hours a week when the online community heavily criticises every announcement, or when news outlets cause excessive controversy, or when the Board of Trustees shuts down your decisions for legal reasons it's very hard. We, as a community, need to make a more conscious effort to support our volunteers. Yes, we should hold organisations to account. But we should also value the hard work of very real people that makes the wheels of those organisations turn.

I’m getting to talking about the tournament, I promise. I had a very clear policy over the event that probably only volunteers and officials heard about, but it basically boiled down to this: if you harassed or made a volunteer feel uncomfortable, you were out. That simple. People who sacrifice their time so you can drink, make merry, and play the sport you love don’t deserve that kind of negativity. 

What can I even say about the weekend? It was incredible, and everything I hoped for. I loved every second of it, especially those precious seconds I got to spend sitting down and eating. The spectators really bought into the idea of the event (potentially without even knowing), and that really made it special. The athletes played their hearts out. The officials were punctual, respectful, and knowledgeable. All the individual cogs that had to turn to make this event work did, and there we are. It was simply fantastic. 

I think we do need to take a second to sit down and think about the current state of international quidditch. I think that conversation should be a polite and respectful one. However, at the same time, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask difficult questions about both what the IQA has or hasn’t done in the past and what it is intending to do in the future. We are at a critical junction that will see our sport either accelerate into the mainstream or dwindle into the shadows. The responsibility for making the right decisions at this crossroads lies with the IQA, and we should be holding them to account over nothing else but the future of our sport.

My time working with the IQA has been special; I’ve been blessed with a great opportunity to serve a community that has given so much to me over the past five years. I’m sure it will continue to give those opportunities to others in my place. This isn’t the end for me I’m still desperate to work with developing countries in establishing their own leagues, and I’m sure there will be plenty of international events in the future. I hope to see you all around at one of them.

Let’s keep making magic happen.


1 comment:

  1. "We, as a community, need to make a more conscious effort to support our volunteers" Every time I hear about someone stepping down, whether it be from a local team, national board or the IQA, I think back on the angry, selfish comments and wonder how they played a part in the decision. Having personal conversations and offering suggestions for the future is much more helpful than commenting "I can't believe they did this" it is encouraging to see a truly international World Cup.