Monday, September 26, 2016

Unprecedented Access to the IQA: An In-depth Look at the Organisation, the Troubles It’s Faced over the Last Few Years, and What It Needs to Do to Move Forward

By Andy Marmer and Chula Bruggeling

The following people were interviewed for this story:
Chris Daw (IQA Trustee),
Alicia Radford (former IQA Trustee),
Nicole Hammer (IQA Interim Executive Director),
Harrison Homel (former IQA Executive Director),
Sophie Bonifaz (former IQA HR Director),
Ashley Cooper (former IQA Congress Secretary),
Matthew Guenzel (IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Tournament Director, IQA Membership Manager, former IQA President of Congress),  
Bex Alley (European Committee Executive Manager, IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016  Logistics Coordinator),
John Ssentamu (Quidditch Uganda),
Laurens Grinwis Plaat Stultjes (Belgian Quidditch Federation President),
Jonas Zinn (Deutscher Quidditchbund Finance Director),
Alper Erisen (Quidditch Dernegi President),
Mary Kimball (US Quidditch Events Director),
Jill Staniec (Quidditch Canada Membership Director, Chair of the IQA Rules Committee),
Jerona van der Gevel (former Quidditch Nederland President [then Muggle Quidditch Nederland]),
George MacLeod,
Marina Montenegro

The following people did not respond to interview requests or refused to speak with us: Rachael Glynn (former IQA Finance Director), Brian Gallaway (IQA President of Congress)

The following people contributed to reporting: Chula Bruggeling, Aaron Carroll, Jack Lennard, Andy Marmer, Austin Wallace, Abby Whiteley


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Issues
    1. Finance
      1. Bank Account(s)
      2. Membership Fees
      3. Transparency
    2. Governance
      1. Incorporation
      2. Board of Trustees
    3. Uganda
    4. Constitutional Issues
    5. A Fractured Organisation
      1. Volunteering
      2. Communication
      3. Ambitious Trustees
      4. An Understaffed IQA
  3. Is the IQA Irrelevant?
  4. Looking Forward: How can the IQA save itself?
    1. Regaining Trust
    2. The Right People
    3. A Clear Plan


I. Introduction
Would it be an exaggeration to say that most quidditch players don’t know the exact nature of who the IQA is, what it does, or what it is supposed to do? That is a problem. The International Quidditch Association (IQA), quite simply, is the international sports federation that, if it were doing its job properly, would, among other things, host World Cup, write the international rulebook, and generally govern the sport. And while the IQA has mostly worked on attempting these things, there is still an overarching sense that it is not (yet) functioning as it should be. 

We sought to tell the story of first two years of the IQA in a ways that highlights its issues in a fair and constructive way. To do this, we gained unprecedented access to the people at the heart of the organisation, both previously and currently, to create the first complete review of the state of the IQA. 

This was not necessarily easy. Many feared going on the record with the shadow of the IQA’s authority hanging over them. However, the vast majority wanted to see an article that would start an open and honest conversation about accountability and rebuilding. This included IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel who is also the IQA’s Membership Manager and previously served as President of the IQA Congress.

“All the information I provided for this article was under the intention of making the IQA the best it can possibly be,” said Guenzel. “I believe as part of that we have a duty, as volunteers, congress members, and individuals of an international community, to hold the Board of Trustees to account. I have shared this information knowingly and willingly, and am aware that there may be repercussions of my doing so, which may involve my volunteering with the IQA coming to an end. I don’t care. This is worth talking about it, and I’m sharing this information so that we can all have an honest conversation about where our sport is going.”

What we found wasn’t always pretty. There are serious concerns regarding financial management, the constitution, governance, and many other facets of the organisation. Perhaps most concerningly, the IQA appears fragmented, both to those working within it and to the community it serves. Amidst all of this calamity, we next asked whether the IQA itself is necessary, finding that there is still a hope and a need for a well-functioning organisation. Finally, we examined the ways that the IQA could repair itself as an organisation. We believe that all of the IQA’s problems are fixable and absolutely should be fixed. However, these solutions aren’t just magic. They require hard work from the IQA and from the community as a whole.

“What I care about, what I fundamentally at its core feel, is that the IQA is drastically important,” said former IQA Executive Director Harrison Homel. “If anything, there is a rallying call to be made to make this what it should be. The work that it was set up to do is there. Every time someone says why don’t we burn it down and start something else, that’s not how it works. Everyone can be an armchair cynic, but it doesn’t make anything better.”

We understand that this piece is long. We tried to make it shorter. But this is important.


The logo of the IQA

II. Key issues


  1. Financial Mismanagement


Bank Account(s)

One of the first issues we sought to address was the financial state of the IQA. This may not have been a pressing concern for the majority of its existence in its current state (since 2014), but recently has been thrust into the spotlight as the IQA has earned more and more money. Theoretically the IQA should derive money from a number of sources. The most consistent source was expected to be dues paid by National Governing Bodies (NGBs) – more on this later – however, it was also expected that the IQA would earn money through events, such as World Cup, and special dues, such as the money raised by NGBs to finance events like World Cup (though this money would be earned in the short-term and then spent). Recently, the IQA has also come into unexpected money after the proceeds from the successful fundraiser for Team Uganda could not be spent on the intended purpose. 

So how much money does the IQA have? 

IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel confirmed to us that the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 turned a profit, with team and player fees covering the bulk of necessary expenditures from the tournament and online pre-event ticket sales allowing for more generous expenditure to raise the quality of the weekend. All money raised through same-day ticket sales were net income, totalling an estimated 15,000 euros ($16,859). Further, we know that the Team Uganda fundraiser initially raised 10,242 euros ($11,512); Guenzel also informed us that around 50 donors had asked for a refund, leaving the IQA with just under 8,000 euros ($8,912)  from the fundraiser. This should, potentially, leave the IQA with around 23,000 euros ($25,851) from the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016, though this does not account for money lost during currency exchanges. It also does not include money spent from the Team Uganda fundraiser money on perks and Indiegogo fees. The Quidditch Post was unable to independently verify these figures due to a lack of financial accounts released by the IQA.

Disappointingly, as it will become clear, there was seemingly no desire to enlighten us or the community about the full extent of the IQA’s financial dealings, or (perhaps more worryingly) no real knowledge or plan in the higher leadership of the organisation when it comes to accounts – at least not one that the public, nor any sort of body that might hold them accountable, is privy to. We have, however, pieced together the information we could, with the understanding that it may be vague or incomplete.

“We’ve set up a bank account and PayPal for the organization,” former IQA Executive Director Harrison Homel said in a September 2015 IQA Congress meeting. “Which are regrettably privately held at this point by the Financial Director [Rachael Glynn] and myself.” 

Glynn worked and resided as an accountant in Luxembourg, where she established the account. Glynn later quietly resigned from the IQA, presumably leaving the account solely in the control of Homel; it is unclear whether Homel could access the account. Nobody involved was willing or able to confirm or deny this. We reached out to Glynn and received no response. Former IQA Executive Director Harrison Homel declined to comment on this issue, as he felt it was not his place to discuss the matter now that he is no longer part of the IQA leadership. The fate of any money that might have been held in this account is unclear. 

Skip ahead nine months. The IQA has run a wildly successful fundraising campaign to bring Uganda to the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016, raising (at least initially) 10,242 euros ($11,512). World Cup is just over a month away. It is against this backdrop that the IQA Congress received an email from Brian Gallaway, President of the Congress and an IQA Trustee, informing them that he had established a bank account in Canada.

“Our attempts to open an account in the UK as an unincorporated entity were rejected,” Gallaway said.


Brian Gallaway (third from left), alongside other members of the IQA’s leadership, at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Opening Ceremony | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Homel described the choice of Canada as a home for the IQA’s finances as “a decision born of necessity,” since both Gallaway and Trustee Chris Daw were based in the country. According to our sources, this account was opened as a personal account by Gallaway in the name of the IQA; the Quidditch Post was unable to verify this.

The status of the Canadian account is now somewhat unclear. Nicole Hammer confirmed to us that the Board of Trustees has access to it, and that she, as interim executive director, is meant to have access, but this has not happened yet. It is unclear as to whether this is by design or not (given the temporary nature of her position) – Trustee Chris Daw declined to comment on financial matters; however, he did note that the trustees control the bank account. Hammer was also unsure as to exactly how much money was in the Canadian account. It is as yet unclear whether the account will be moved to the UK should the incorporation efforts in the country prove successful. 

Daw also confirmed that financial information would be released at the IQA’s Annual General Meeting, though a date for this was not available, nor was it clear whether this information would make its way to the public eye. 

We reached out to Brian Gallaway concerning the issue of financials and despite initial communications in which he agreed to speak to us on the record, he ultimately refused to provide any information regarding the IQA’s financial situation.

What should be clear from all of this is that few people know the extent of the IQA’s financial situation. Based on our conversations, it seems the full scope of that knowledge may be limited to just three individuals: Chris Daw, Nicholas Oughtibridge, and Brian Gallaway, the three members of the IQA’s Board of Trustees. The lack of clear accounting and the personal ownership has concerned many NGBs.

Membership Fees

The IQA’s main source of income was expected to be membership fees paid by various National Governing Bodies.

“Membership in the Congress is a three-tier system consisting of member National Governing Bodies (NGB), developing NGBs, and emerging areas. Eligibility for each tier is determined by a metric called the Quidditch Development Index (QDI), which is proportional to the number of players in the NGB,” according to the IQA’s membership page.

Emerging Areas are represented by the IQA’s expansion staff, and pay no membership fees. Developing NGBs currently pay 25 euros per season ($28), while Member NGBs pay depending on their number of Congress delegates: either 100 euros ($112), 300 euros ($337), or 500 euros ($562) per year.


Figure representing membership fees to be paid in euros to the IQA by various levels of NGBs

The aforementioned unclear financial situation of the IQA in regards to bank accounts leads to problems for its Member NGBs.

“We can’t officially pay to a personal account for IQA membership fee,” said Alper Erişen, President of Quidditch Derneği (Turkey). “We may have trouble explaining it to authorities here.”

When asked if that means Turkey has never paid any membership fees, the answer was affirmative.

“Yeah. Once the IQA has its own bank account we will pay it; we are not unwilling to pay,” said Erisen. “With the new Canadian bank account [...] we may be able to pay those fees. We need to check whether we need permission from the ministry for cooperating/joining international entities. If the name on the account is the International Quidditch Association, that is better and more accountable on our side. However, before we do pay, as I said, we will contact the Ministry and ask about permissions and such, and if they do check and find out the IQA is not incorporated, then of course we can’t pay it.”

Another member having legal trouble paying is Deutscher Quidditchbund (Germany).

“We couldn’t pay the IQA due to its missing incorporation and clear constitution,” said Jonas Zinn, Deutscher Quidditchbund Finance Director. “Since we are dealing with cross-border money transfers, it is key for us to know in which country the IQA is headquartered.”

Numerous other NGBs we spoke with that preferred to be unnamed confirmed that they too had yet to pay the IQA at least one season’s worth of membership fees because of problems regarding the accounts.

“From emails I have from last summer, other NGBs were very uncomfortable with paying dues into a personal bank account,” One NGB representative explained. 

However, some NGBs have paid their dues.

“Canada has paid all the dues we’ve been billed for,” said Quidditch Canada Membership Director Jill Staniec. “We know that it takes money to do things, and in our opinion, the only ethical thing to do is to pay membership fees. Apparently some countries can’t pay their fees due to their local laws, so it’s not just an ethical issue for them. However, at least a few of those countries are also managing to attend international events which charge team and player fees and somehow pay those. So either their laws are particularly specific about membership dues or there are workarounds that they’re just not interested in using for this purpose.”

One anonymous NGB representative in Congress strongly disagreed with this appraisal.

“When the IQA started requesting dues from NGBs, they were not incorporated,” they said. “While they do appear to have at least bank account in their name now, Congress hasn’t been given specific details about dues or how we should pay them. Having a budget and a clear understanding of how funds will be used is essential for any membership program. Our NGB paid the World Cup fees because we knew exactly what they were going to support, and we could make the payment without any risk on our part. The same does not hold true for IQA NGB dues.”

The IQA makes no pretence as to the significance of the issue. When we spoke to Homel, he acknowledged the problem of paying member dues to an organisation that was not as yet incorporated.

“[Not being incorporated] makes everything harder,” he said. “It makes nothing easy. It’s a difficult problem to solve. It’s one I spent an awful lot of brain power on.”

According to our math, the IQA should have collected about 5,000 euros ($5,620) in dues from various NGBs over the two years of its existence. In 2014-15, many NGBs wrote to the IQA explaining their refusal to pay membership fees at a time where there was some uncertainty around the bank account and financial details were largely unavailable. As can be seen from the quotes above, for some NGBs this refusal and/or inability to pay continued last season, and might even continue this season. 

Exactly which NGBs did or did not pay their membership fees we cannot be certain, since various NGBs did not want to give an official answer when asked. We know of some who did, and some who did not. Combined with the fact that there are no public financial records yet, it’s impossible to say how much of those 5,000 euros ($5,625) were ever actually received.

Transparency

As international quidditch journalists, we follow the IQA more closely than nearly anyone else in the world, yet it was still a surprise to us the extent to which the IQA had not been paid by its NGBs. This is indicative of a larger problem. The IQA does not widely release financial reports of any kind – and therefore lacks any real means by which it can be held accountable.

Trying to get any insight into the financial situation of the IQA at this point seems impossible, with trustees declining to comment, former leaders declining to comment, current directors unable to comment, and the president of the Congress refusing to comment on the matter. Financial reports seem to be non-existent, or at the very least not publicly available on the website. The obvious point of contact would then be the IQA’s Financial Director, but after Rachael Glynn’s resignation, nobody has been appointed to the position.

Quite frankly, were it not for Guenzel supplying us with figures, we would have no idea how much is still sitting in some form of storage for the IQA. We don’t know who has access to this money, we have no official records to peruse, and, most saliently, we have absolutely no idea what this money will be used for or what oversight will be put in place when it comes to investing it. More worrying still, the Congress – to whom the trustees are supposedly accountable – don’t know the current state of the financials either. 

Those that do know? They aren’t talking.


B. Governance


Incorporation

Meeting notes show that the topic of incorporation was discussed at the very first IQA meeting in August 2014, yet the IQA is still not a legally incorporated entity, over two years later.

This is seemingly a failing of both the IQA’s executive management and the Board, since the latter was empaneled in February 2016.

“If I wanted to get an [Employer Identification Number] or create a small business with my address and call it the IQA, I could have,” explained Homel. “There were quick solutions to solve a problem, none of those solutions help the organization in the long-term,” he said. “From my perspective if we incorporated in a country that didn’t make sense for our international business model, or if we incorporated without the business knowledge and business savvy that I wanted for the organization, [that wouldn’t have served the IQA].”

The difficulty was multi-faceted, and while certainly a large share of blame falls on the IQA’s principles, it does also illustrate the difficulties of putting together such a large international organization, particularly with as expansive a mandate as the IQA has. 

In order to incorporate, it was legally necessary for the IQA to have a constitution in place. However, the requirements of the constitution vary based on the location of incorporation, meaning that a constitution could not be put formally into place until that decision was made. The IQA chose not to make that decision until it had a Board of Trustees in place, as they would be legally bound by the constitution as stewards of the business.

At the same time, the creation of a board is itself no easy task. It requires individuals to volunteer a great deal of their time and be legally liable for the organization’s actions. Homel chaired the IQA’s search for trustees. In Daw, Oughtibridge, and Radford, he found a group of trustees with extensive experience in the sports, government, and nonprofit worlds.


Former IQA Executive Director Harrison Homel at the 2013 West Regional Championship | Photo Credit: Placer Valley Tourism

When asked, Homel expressed frustration at the process of finding trustees. He explained that he had posted on Idealist and other sites that can source high-level volunteers. 

“I wanted the people on the board to be qualified, intelligent adults who got quidditch,” Homel said. 

He specified that he was looking for “grownups who had a relevant skill set to what the organization does, which was manage quidditch, which was work with NGBs, which was our very best try to live up to the ideals of the organization on literacy and gender equality.” He also had a stated focus on “business acumen.” 

In his search for trustees, Homel engaged in an extensive process.

“Finding these types of people is difficult,” he said. “I did everything I could think of to do. I asked everyone I knew and everyone I could think of to ask everyone they knew – especially Congress – to help.” 

Still, it is no secret that Homel found the search process frustrating.

“To some degree it’s because that’s a difficult profile to find [for the role] and to some degree it’s because everyone else has different priorities,” Homel said. “For whatever reason there were not very many candidates.” 

Still, one of our sources, who at the time was not involved in quidditch but has subsequently become involved, noted that he emailed Homel shortly after learning about the opening and never received a response.

So how does Homel view the team he ended up with?

“I think it was the best team that was available,” he said. “I’m very happy with all of the people. I think that they all care deeply about the organization and they bring different valuable perspectives.”

Board of Trustees

On Feb. 26, 2016 a news post was published on the IQA website announcing the Board of Trustees.


“The IQA Congress has confirmed three individuals to form an inaugural Board of Trustees. The Board, tasked with ensuring the good governance and long-term financial success of the organization’s business operations, will provide incredibly valuable perspective and insight to the Executive Team as the IQA builds its business.


The appointed trustees, Chris Daw, Nicholas Oughtibridge, and Alicia Radford, come from diverse business backgrounds and bring a variety of skills to the table.”


Chris Daw is a former paralympian based in Canada, and was a professional athlete in multiple sports (adaptive track, wheelchair basketball, volleyball, wheelchair rugby, curling, and marathons) over the years. He has interacted with sports both from the player side, and from an sports management and promotion side with organisations like AthletesCAN and the Canadian Curling Organization. Furthermore, Daw was the executive director of Quidditch Canada from Dec. 7, 2015 until Aug. 23, 2016. 

Nicholas Oughtibridge is the Chair of the Information Standards Delivery Board for the government of the United Kingdom, and is connected to our sport through his daughter, who was recently named the head coach for the UK’s national team, TeamUK. His professional career has brought him significant experience in navigating government bureaucracy, developing international policy, and ensuring good governance as a board member.

Finally, Alicia Radford, whose resignation from the IQA Board of Trustees was announced shortly after the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 concluded, was the trustee most recognisable to the community at large. As acting executive director and COO of US Quidditch from 2010 to 2015 and a founding member of the organisation, she was instrumental in the evolution of the NGB into the most developed and established quidditch organisation in the world. During her tenure, USQ went from a volunteer-run organisation to a fully incorporated nonprofit with an annual budget of around $400,000 (355,888 euros).

“We spent a significant amount of time on recruitment and vetting for these positions because we felt it was incredibly important that we get this right the first time,” Homel said in a statement announcing the new trustees. “I firmly believe that we have done that. I am incredibly excited to learn from and work alongside these business professionals to continue developing our organization and better serve our constituents.”

The rigour of this process is debatable, given that Oughtibridge was perhaps best known to UK members of the community as having launched a very public and personal attack against QuidditchUK (QUK) while attempting to agree to terms to form a Board of Trustees for them.

Although the Facebook threads where this exchange occurred have been deleted, going back through QUK documents, their EMT Minutes Summary March 2015 mentions these attacks as follows: “After recent online comments by Nicholas Oughtibridge and the resulting community response, the President will email Nicholas Oughtibridge to inform him that QUK are no longer willing to work with him in an advisory Board of Trustees position.”

Representatives of QUK declined to comment specifically on the interactions between Oughtibridge and the organisation.


Nicholas Oughtibridge speaking at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Opening Ceremony | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Another trustee has also failed to win over the community; some who have worked closely with Daw have described him as domineering.

“Daw makes it so no one feels they can talk,” said an anonymous source.

While reports that he is difficult to work with behind the scenes emerged in our conversations, few people were interested in going on the record to criticize him for fear of repercussions.

As one volunteer who requested anonymity put it: “I don’t like Chris,” they said. “He’s not pleasant to work with.” 

When pressed on these matters, Daw declined to comment without knowledge of specific instances, though he denied that the IQA acted in a heavy-handed way.

“There have been no heavy-handed actions by the IQA whatsoever,” he said. “All actions have been done in best policy practice based on international law.”

Content Note: Mentions of sexual assault. 

However, Daw did upset a portion of the community with his handling of an alleged rape perpetrated by a member of the World Cup Organising Team. The allegation, made public in a major Facebook group related to quidditch, unsurprisingly drew plenty of attention. A coordinated campaign demanding action from the IQA was born out of the initial social media postings.

Those demanding action emailed all of the IQA email accounts they could find; Daw was the only one to respond.

To many in the community, the responses from Daw were seen as deeply flawed and insensitive.

George MacLeod, whose alleged rape was the catalyst for these events, expressed disappointment in the way things were handled by the IQA and Daw in particular. 

“I didn’t expect them to flat out ignore my requests for a formal investigation, or even flat out ignore my emails entirely, though that not only surprised me but made me feel very unsafe,” MacLeod said. “When Chris Daw forwarded me the email he had already sent to a friend of mine declining to take action, instead of even taking time to write to me individually, I knew that my rapist wouldn’t face any repercussions internationally and I knew I was being dismissed.”

Daw explained in an email to MacLeod, “After consulting with experts to determine what our responsibilities are, we determined that it falls outside the IQA’s scope to investigate criminal matters,” he said. “The complaint does not deal with matters for which the IQA is responsible, therefore the IQA is not in a position to consider the matter any further.”

The Quidditch Post’s Jack Lennard was part of the group unhappy with this response. Lennard called out the IQA and Daw in every way available to him, including email and Twitter.

[Editor’s note: Jack Lennard is a member of the Quidditch Post leadership and contributed to this article. His contributions to the entirety of the piece were vetted by a team of independent Quidditch Post volunteers, including other members of leadership, as well as superiors.]

During an email conversation between Lennard and Daw, Daw wrote, “the matters you raise are not relevant to the IQA or the sport of quidditch.”

Due to Lennard’s outspoken and public criticism, Daw threatened to ban Lennard from World Cup. Daw told us at the time that Lennard was a risk to possibly disrupt the event; however, based on our reading of Lennard’s communications we found general antagonism, but no threat of disrupting the wider event.

[Editor’s Note: Lennard was temporarily suspended from the Quidditch Post for various actions he took related to these events, but the Quidditch Post considers the matter closed.]

“I was threatened with a ban,” Lennard said. “The IQA told me it could take up to 24 hours for the Board to meet and decide my fate. I moved my flight to Frankfurt later, at my expense, to accommodate them. They still hadn’t made a decision, so I did not attend, since I didn’t want to fly all the way out there only to be barred at the gates. They later told me they would have let me into the event so long as I was accompanied by an IQA escort at all times. It was so absurd as to be almost funny.”

Daw has said he is personally working on creating a sexual harassment policy to govern the IQA’s responsibilities going forward.

Until his recent resignation, Daw also served as executive director of Quidditch Canada, where some of his decisions echoed the grandiose vision he has for the IQA. During his tenure, Daw asked all Team Canada players and those affiliated with the team to sign an 18-page player agreement, which included a non-disclosure agreement. The Quidditch Post has obtained a copy of the agreement. While we are linking the full document here for everyone’s review, we think that the clause which has most connotations of heavy-handedness is the one which reads,


“Quidditch Canada defines the following as inappropriate and offensive behaviors concerning participation in online communities which may include depictions or presentations of the following, but is not limited to this list: Photos, videos, comments, or posters showing the personal use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, e.g., no holding cups, cans, shot glasses, etc… Commenting in a negative fashion in a public forum about an Athlete, Staff, Executive, or Board member of Quidditch Canada.”


We read this agreement as preventing any Canadian player from being photographed holding an alcoholic beverage, despite the legal drinking age being as low as 18 or 16 in parts of Canada and Germany (the site of World Cup).

Daw generally mentioned the necessity of policies for the IQA and NGBs, and implied that Canada is working toward taking the sport to the next level, which includes agreements and policies that will be necessary to eventually bring the sport to the Olympic level.


Chris Daw speaking at the Rick Hansen Relay | Photo Credit: Arowyndaw
While many were critical of Daw, some praised the work he has done and the skillset he brings. 

“I think he’s one of the best things to happen to the sport,” said Jill Staniec, membership director of Quidditch Canada. “He brings so much experience with sport organizations, and especially with international sport. Is he perfect? Hell no. But none of us are. What he is is a certified, registered Real Adult and that means that while he may be behind in some of the cool new ways of doing things and he may be behind in some of the cultural zeitgeist that we tend to live in collectively, he does know his stuff. He has great connections, and he’s not afraid to use them, and that can really take the sport far, if we let it.”

Finally, we turn our attention to Gallaway. In contrast to Daw and Oughtibridge, Gallaway was a part of the quidditch community, has experience playing quidditch, and has held leadership roles in other sports before he became a trustee. 

It is unclear how Gallaway serves on the board. He was not elected to his position by the Congress (as is required by the IQA Constitution, section 15.2) nor does the constitution grant the president of the Congress an ex-officio seat on the board. 

The new constitution does mention him as a trustee, and was approved by the Congress. However, this will not take effect until the IQA’s incorporation application is approved. Further, Gallaway is not currently listed as a trustee on the IQA’s website. If Gallaway is not a trustee, the IQA would have only two trustees on its Board, yet the constitution requires a minimum of three. 

Gallaway refused to comment on the matter.

Staniec, who also serves as chair of the IQA Rules Committee, said that because Gallaway was elected as president of Congress, and the role includes a place on the Board of Trustees, that legitimises his place alongside Daw and Oughtibridge. 

Further, though not remembering it being included on the ballot, Staniec sees concerns over this as “irrelevant” because she “wants Congress to have a representative on the Board of Trustees.” However, the fact remains that this guarantee of a place on the Board of Directors for the president of Congress is nowhere to be found in the active constitution.


IMG_2402_JPG.JPG
Brian Gallaway and Nicholas Oughtibridge at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography
The role of the trustees will become even more important under the new constitution passed by the IQA in May, which gives them almost total power. This constitution requires the resignation of all current trustees, according to Clause 13, sub-clause (1): “At the first annual general meeting of the members of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) all the charity trustees shall retire from office.” These first trustees are listed as Chris Daw, Nicholas Oughtibridge, and Brian Gallaway, as well as Alicia Radford (recently resigned). 

Upon the resignation of the entire board, Congress will be tasked with appointing a new board. According to Clause 15.2 of the IQA Constitution: “The Board of Trustees of the Corporation shall consist of no fewer than three and no more than seven members. Trustees shall be elected by the Congress.” Thus, when the IQA is incorporated, its trustees are all required to resign and the IQA Congress will be tasked with appointing three to seven new individuals to serve.

With incorporation upcoming, Congress has the opportunity to reevaluate its trustees. There are perhaps two factors for it to consider. Was Homel’s initial strategy in filling the trustees role proper? And, did he find the right people to fill the role? Of course, any decision that Congress makes must take proper account of the difficulty Homel had in filling the role, though again, this may have been a result of the limitations he put in place himself.

Homel, for his part, endorsed the board even with the value of hindsight.

“I don’t regret the choices that were made in terms of putting the board together,” he said. “They did exactly what they were asked to do, which was provide a perspective, provide insight. This was to help focus the organization on things outside of direct quidditch management.”

Furthermore, Congress isn’t limited to just confirming or replacing the board. The IQA is authorised to have between three and seven trustees, and it currently maintains the minimum of three – it could widen the scope of individuals on the board.

“I hope they continue to expand the group,” said Homel.

Still, the IQA may not know fully the organization’s potential to attract trustees without truly opening the opportunity to everyone. No real information about how to become a Trustee has ever been made available. At the moment, the only real information we have comes from the constitution and says that the trustees are elected by the Congress, though even this seems contradicted by the IQA’s website which discusses a nominations and elections committee: “The Nominations and Elections Committee will oversee the election process for the board of trustees.” 

Chris Daw is listed as the Committee Chair, with Nicholas Oughtibridge and Alicia Radford as the other two members. (One can assume that this information has not been updated after Radford’s resignation earlier this year.) This would imply that the Board of Trustees, having formed an Elections Committee, are responsible for its own potential re-elections. It is thus unclear who in fact is responsible for appointing trustees.


C. Uganda

Perhaps no instance better illustrates the internal dysfunction of the IQA than the saga surrounding Uganda’s proposed attendance at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016. 

As a recap, the World Cup Organising Team knew about Uganda’s potential visa problems and chose not to disclose this to potential donors in order to boost the campaign. When Uganda could not attend, the World Cup Organising Team led by Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel, presumably in conjunction with Executive Director Homel, decided that half of the money would be set aside for quidditch in Uganda, and half would go into a World Cup emergency fund. Later that day, Trustee Daw announced that the Board of Trustees had reversed the earlier decision, stating that a refund would be available and that all money retained would go to a “Special Projects Fund,” a fund with an unclear purpose. The fund should have just under 8,000 euros ($8,912) left of the initial 10,242 euros raised ($11,512) if the figure we received from Guenzel is correct - no figures are available publicly. Throughout this process the IQA Congress was not consulted.


While this decision was certainly a complex one and there are pros and cons to whatever decision would be made, it is unambiguously clear that the various factions within the IQA had not communicated with one another and had no organisational plan for how the money would be used. This led to Guenzel and Homel thinking the decision belonged to them as World Cup tournament director and executive director, and the Board believing otherwise. 

Equally concerning has been the IQA’s treatment of John Ssentamu, leader of Quidditch Uganda.

“I was told that we shall need to get part of the funds sent to us for the development of Quidditch in Uganda but some of Board of Trustees were against that arrangement and disowned Matthew [Guenzel]’s statements and we have not heard any other official communication to that effect,” Ssentamu said. 

Ssentamu has also indicated that despite Uganda taking an extensive role in the fundraising, “We haven’t got any formal communication about the fate of the funds; I can’t surely tell what lies ahead,” he said. The only communication he has apparently received has been an apology from Gallaway for the confusion.


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IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Tournament Director Matthew Guenzel | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

A lack of cohesion is perhaps what best sums up the entire narrative of this issue. Homel describes it as being caused by “internal confusion about where different jobs started and ended,” he said. “It was the kind of thing that, had there been better communication on all sides by all parties, there wouldn’t have been an issue.” 

So despite extensive efforts to raise funds, Quidditch Uganda has not received any money or even information on how it might be able to obtain some of the money. The money has itself been allocated to the aforementioned Special Projects Fund, but specific use of the proceeds is itself unclear. In an email to Congress dated July 19, 2016, Gallaway explained that the IQA’s final decision on the outcome of the fundraising was to ensure “power was in the hands of the donors.” He concluded by saying that “it is hoped that the Special Projects Fund will ultimately be able to provide some benefit to quidditch in Uganda.”

This is more than just a functional problem (though the ugly prospect of the money being misappropriated and disappearing from public view is certainly a troublesome one). The fact is, the Uganda fundraiser represented a burst of optimism, the likes of which the IQA has rarely managed to capitalise on within the quidditch community. It was great internal PR, and even better external PR, hitting major news outlets and giving the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 a sense of ambition that few thought it could attain. To leave the Ugandan NGB high and dry, with no explanation or apology, will only serve to emphasise the growing concern that the IQA has no real connection with the community. Worse, it risks alienating emerging countries that can offer substantial growth to the sport – and it gives credence to the belief that, talk aside, the IQA leadership simply doesn’t care about the collateral damage of its lack of internal and external communication.

The other negative consequence to come from the Uganda situation is that it perhaps damaged the level of trust some in quidditch have in the IQA.

An anonymous member of Congress explained: “I was disappointed that donors to the Uganda crowdfunding campaign weren’t told the whole story from the beginning,” they said. “You have to be upfront with those who give money to your organization. It’s why nonprofits do things like annual reports.”

It is an open question whether this situation has left a sufficiently bad taste in the community’s mouth that people might not be willing to donate to similar future campaigns.


D. Constitutional Issues


It took the IQA over a year to ratify any form of a constitution. However, the IQA recently confirmed that it is seeking incorporation in the United Kingdom and hopes to receive approval of its new constitution at that time. However, there is some confusion in the minutes about the vote to ratify this new constitution in Congress. 

The new constitution was passed at a May 2016 meeting, and approved by a vote of 8-0 with 8 votes abstaining. This constitution primarily serves to set up the IQA as an incorporated charitable organisation in the United Kingdom, featuring numerous clauses standard in any such business document. It is unclear how the new constitution will function with respect to the previously enacted constitution. When asked by the Quidditch Post, Nicole Hammer, the interim Executive Director of the IQA, stated that the two constitutions are designed to operate simultaneously. This may be some surprise to Congress members, many of whom expressed an assumption to us that the new constitution replaced the old constitution. An assumption that appears to be supported by the Congress’ minutes when they adopted the new constitution.

It may cause even more consternation considering the fact that many of the clauses in the two constitutions contradict each other.

One immediate conflict between the two constitutions is that the appointed Chair of the Trustees is the de facto chair of all meetings of the Congress. In accordance with clause 11.4 of the new constitution, the Chair may decline to oversee the Congress and the members of Congress may elect one of their own to oversee the meeting. In the original constitution, the only chair of the Congress was the President of the Congress. This allows for the trustees to have more authority over the Congress than before.

Under the new constitution a new method of determining a quorum of Congress has been implemented. The new constitution declares that a “quorum for general meetings shall be the greater of 5% or three members” – roughly meaning that as long as three member NGBs attend a meeting, a quorum has been reached and may pass motions that are considered passed by the full Congress. However, alongside this, the new constitution also decreases the number of votes to one per member organisation per Clause 11.6.a. Under the old IQA Constitution, the quorum for Congress was considered to be two-thirds of the Congress’ delegates with one to three votes per member organisation.

As we continue to talk about the Congress and how it passes resolutions under the new constitution the next biggest conflict between the two is the right of voting by proxy. The old constitution directly states that “Voting by proxy is not allowed.” However, the new constitution states in Clause 11.7.a that a proxy may be appointed with written notice.

Another contradiction is in the way NGBs vote. Currently – as discussed toward the start of this article – NGBs are allocated votes based on the number of players they have. However, under the new constitution, each NGB is entitled to just one vote.

It would be highly improbable that these two constitutions would work in tandem. The simple solution would be for the Trustees to issue a resolution outlining a set of bylaws to be used within the organisation that provide a more detailed structure. This would also be their way of delegating their authority to various parties. However, this document would not be required when applying for incorporation.

It remains to be seen how these contradictions will be resolved, or whether Hammer was simply incorrect in stating that the two will function concurrently.


E. A Fractured Organisation

Volunteering

The IQA, like nearly all organisations in quidditch, is dependent upon volunteers, yet a common theme from our sources was that the IQA simply does not have enough.

“When you’re understaffed to the point that job title means nothing and it doesn’t feel like that is likely to change because of the nature of the game, when good volunteers go to NGBs...when you’re at the bottom of that list because the international game is not anybody’s priority, when you chronically don’t have enough hands and the pathways to getting more don’t pan out, it makes things harder,” Homel said. 

Some of our sources expressed concern that this article itself would damage the IQA’s reputation and thus its ability to attract these much-needed volunteers.

“IQA work isn’t glory,” Homel said. “If you tell them that it failed, what are you saying? What are you doing to the organization? It excuses, vindicates, and allows everyone who may have volunteered; it lets them off the hook. You don’t have to help. Someone else has messed this up.”

Part of the problem that the IQA faces within its volunteer ranks is a general frustration with its own struggles to perform work.

“When you can see that other people are spinning their wheels and nothing is getting done, it’s easy to feel like it’s not worth spending time on,” Alicia Radford said, who recently retired from the Board of Trustees.


Alicia Radford at the “How Fandom Is Changing The World” panel at LeakyCon 2014 in Orlando | Photo Credit: Isabella Gong Photography
Communication


That the IQA struggles to complete tasks is something upon which our sources widely agreed. In addition to a lack of volunteers, many felt that the IQA’s difficulties with communicating are also a direct cause of this.

“It would be difficult to point the finger at any one person; [it’s] more that the lack of communication early on in the life of the IQA resulted in an early impotence and frustration that spiralled into a lack of trust both internally and externally,” said former IQA Congress Secretary Ashley Cooper. “At the point when no one trusts each other and every action is treated with suspicion and combat, life becomes very hard for everyone involved.”

Cooper continued, noting how these difficulties have affected the IQA’s internal management. 

“No one really discusses anything with each other,” Cooper said. “Decisions and actions made at the top were not passed down, and it seemed that concerns raised at the bottom were not passed up. As such, all the components of the IQA (eg: Congress, executive director, etc.) felt like separate entities. The lack of discussion bred suspicion, frustration, and eventually apathy, to the point where Congress couldn’t be bothered to turn up because nothing ever came from their decisions anyway. That in turn led to the higher powers (e.g. the executive director) feeling Congress was useless because there were never enough NGBs there to make any decisions, and so the higher powers just made their own decision to help get things moving. That would then inflame Congress further who felt they had been bypassed and ignored yet again, leading to yet more suspicion and anger. This just pushed them further away from the IQA.”

Radford, who was involved in setting up the IQA explained: “From the very beginning there wasn’t ever a consensus on what the structure should be.” As a result, the delineation of responsibility is still murky two years into the organization. “No one knows who is supposed to be doing what.”

Homel agreed that communication was a challenge for the IQA. “The different layers of communication of what needs to be communicated and when, was always something we were figuring out in process,” he said. “There were no guidelines when we started, just a rudimentary and very basic constitution that was laid out; they might have created more questions then answers.”

He noted that this problem is ongoing: “There continues to be confusion about who does what and who is responsible for what.”

Many in Congress were frustrated by the lack of communication. Former Quidditch Nederland President Jerona van der Gevel provided an example: “With regards to finances, I remember at the beginning of last season we (the congress members) asked several times to review the budget and it took a very long time before it was made available. And when we did, it was a simplified version. That’s a very specific example, but I felt like it would have very much benefitted the working relationship and the trust between the different IQA organs if there had been more transparency surrounding this topic. The same is true for the matter of the incorporation process.” 

Homel agreed that communication between the administrative side and the Congress wasn’t always ideal, but noted, “I tried my best to provide Congress the information they needed,” he said. “I might not always have done a great job of it. It was understanding the lines of demarcation of powers and having the time and resources necessary to get the information to the people who needed it and having the conversations that needed to be had [that was the problem].”

The lack of communication can prove especially difficult for trustees who may come from a different background and culture, and are not used to the nature of quidditch politics.

“It’s frustrating for an outside trustee to go to a Congress meeting,” said former Trustee Radford. “It’s frustrating enough for an insider, but at least I expect that stuff won’t get done, and won’t get done quickly.” 

On top of their frustration with Congress, the trustees, who started in February 2016, entered an already dysfunctional organisation. “The trustees came in and saw an organization with few volunteers and [internal strife]...it was a tough situation to come into,” said Radford.

“The Board of Trustees [have] probably spent most of their time trying to work out what on earth is going on and troubleshooting, although again the lack of internal (or external) communication means that we cannot be sure exactly what anyone is doing/has done,” said Cooper.


Former IQA Congress Secretary Ashley Cooper | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography
Ambitious Trustees

While Daw and Oughtibridge bring a wealth of external knowledge about sporting organisations and governmental operations, they lack a background within quidditch. However, their skillsets show they have the ability to bring quidditch to a larger stage to help legitimize the sport.

“We, as the governing body, bring a huge amount of resources to the table,” Daw said.

“What I bring to the table is the ability to bring this sport to the next level,” he said. “But if the community – whether locally, nationally, or internationally – isn’t prepared for that, then the sport can’t grow, [it] doesn’t matter who’s in the driver’s seat.”

Still, Daw recognized that the trustees are not the ones making this decision. “The trustees serve the Congress – they bring forward [a vision] to the trustees who act accordingly,” he said. “The staff is then directed by the board to do the day-to-day of the IQA. If any parts don’t communicate well the process fails.”

With the sport still in its infantile stage at the international level, it’s worth questioning whether the trustees currently have the proper focus. If trustees like Daw and Oughtibridge want to use their connections and skills to reach this goal of bringing quidditch to the highest sporting levels, this means that IQA has to ensure they find other trustees and staff who understand not only the business of quidditch, but the community of the sport.


An Understaffed IQA


Many seek to lay blame for the IQA’s dysfunction at the feet of former Executive Director Harrison Homel. One former volunteer described his management style as non-existent. However, that same source also noted that Homel was personally very busy and lacked support from other volunteers, particularly at high levels of the organisation, which meant that most of the difficult work fell onto his shoulders.

Homel largely agreed with this assessment. “There were never enough hands, never enough staff, and never enough time,” he said, although he also acknowledged that he was in part personally at fault. “I was busy in my personal life; I travel...The real life I built for myself wasn’t conducive to [my IQA role].”

Others, though, praised Homel’s work with the IQA.

“Harrison is incredibly passionate about the good quidditch can bring to people’s lives and he always brought that into our meetings and conversations,” said Sophie Bonifaz, who served as HR Director under Homel when he was the IQA’s Executive Director. “He knew the importance of precedent and was an excellent sounding board when we came across issues we had never addressed before. He was very good at helping me look at both the big picture and the minutiae of any issue we came across, which was very important when it came to writing up policy. His faith in my abilities and judgement helped foster independence, and that in turn resulted in work I could take pride in.”

Furthermore, by all accounts Homel was an exceptional volunteer in the early days of the organisation that is now USQ, when it was still called the IQA and NGBs hadn’t formed yet. Radford, who was the COO of USQ at the time and worked very closely with Homel, credited him with numerous innovations, such as the start of regional championships and regional directors. He can largely be credited with kick-starting quidditch in the western United States, an area where it now thrives. Yet Radford, who has significant experience working with Homel, felt that an organisation without similarly committed volunteers and a “slow-moving and feisty Congress” was not the best fit for his skillset.


Harrison Homel (right) at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 | Photo Credit: Quidpic.be
Homel defended himself against claims of fuelling dysfunction within the IQA.

“I will be the first to tell you that there are always areas that I could be doing better in in pretty much all aspects of my life, the IQA included,” he said. “But do I think I did a good job? I do. Do I think I did the very best I could with the time and resources I had? I do.”

Radford agreed with this sentiment. “He was the right choice [to start the IQA].” She praised Homel for his long-term perspective in quidditch, noting his involvement in the early days of the organisation that is now USQ, but also noting that because he was living in Moscow at the time, he had the perspective needed for an international organisation.


III. Is the IQA Irrelevant?


Throughout this article, we have made one consistent assumption – that the IQA is necessary. Perhaps it is time to question this expectation. While it made sense to devolve powers to NGBs in the early days of the new IQA, it has become increasingly obvious that NGBs have lost so much faith in the international governing body that winning back that power will be difficult, if not impossible. 

To some extent, the community got what they asked for: the devolution to National Governing Bodies has allowed some incredibly potent and well-run organisations to emerge, doing more than a micro-managing IQA ever could. However, this also means that the positive benefits of the IQA are devolved to those NGBs, saddling the beleaguered IQA with nothing but a general disdain and lack of faith. 

With NGBs doing their jobs better and better, it is natural to question the role of the IQA. Of course, there are duties that naturally fall more logically to an international overseeing organisation than to regional governing bodies. These include the organisation of international tournaments (such as European Games and World Cup), as well as the administration of a global standard for rules. 

Despite all of its issues, our sources have continued to insist that the IQA is an organisation that can and indeed needs to flourish in order for the sport to thrive. Rebecca Alley, who has volunteered for Quidditch Canada, the World Cup Organising Team, and currently serves as the Executive Manager of the European Committee, perhaps explained it best. 

“As far as I know, every other sport has a similar structure that’s a bit like a pyramid,” said Alley. “At the bottom, you have the grassroots level – this is the adult curling league on the weekends, or the 5-year-olds who are all chasing the soccer ball around in a clump, or the after-work hockey league for students and teachers. This is governed at a local level and implemented by clubs. Next level up, you have the provincial (or state, or regional, whatever iteration is relevant in your context) sport organization. This will start to funnel promising kids into a more high-performance program, as well as organizing larger competitions. Think the level of regional directors in the US in quidditch. After that, we get to the national sport organizations, which will create and implement domestic development strategies, maintain national teams, work with the provincial/state/regional organizations to funnel promising talent up toward the national team, and run a national competition. For us, this is QUK, Quidditch Canada, USQ, etc. At the top level, you have the international organization. This runs the world championship, advocates for the sport at an international level (i.e. Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Jeux de la Francophonie, etc), and sets the rules and standards for international competition at all levels. While they’re at the top of the pyramid, what they do trickles down to the very lowest levels eventually. Think about any sport – every single one will have an International Sport Organisation (ISO), if you search for it, and if quidditch wants to join those ranks and one day be involved in any international games, the African Games or Pan Am Games, or even the Olympics, we need an ISO that is taken seriously by the member NGBs.”


Rebecca Alley speaking at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 Opening Ceremony | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography
Ashley Cooper echoed that sentiment. “If quidditch is to become a long term success it will need a successful IQA to tie us all together,” he said. “We cannot survive as a fractured group of NGBs.”

USQ Events Director Mary Kimball, who is also a member of the Congress, noted benefits, not just for NGBs but for the growth of quidditch.

“The IQA creates a common ground where NGBs can come together to make the sport better,” she said. “From a PR standpoint, the IQA is an easy way for the media to talk about us. It adds a level of normalcy to quidditch.”

Radford, who was involved in the founding of the IQA, concurred. “If quidditch aspires to have the same sort of sporting infrastructure as others, it’ll be necessary….In the long-term, it’s worth saving.”

Homel emphatically agreed with the others.

“There’s a lot of room for us to better serve communities and the only way to do that is with people from those places,” he said. “The untapped potential is what really excites me. I hope and I pray that people view it that way. That people see it as a place of opportunity. It’s not a failed experiment. It’s an experiment that has only just begun.”

The answer is that clearly there is still a place for the IQA in global quidditch. A well-functioning IQA, that is. Groups and committees like the European Committee, while showing regions are able to do quite well by themselves, also show exactly why larger international bodies can be a great thing – they can organise international tournaments, write and implement international policies, and generally make sure our various communities stay aware of the wants and needs of one another.


IV. Looking Forward: How Can the IQA Save Itself?

Regaining Trust

For the IQA to move forward as an organisation, many believe it is necessary to regain the trust of its volunteers and of the community. It seems to be already moving in this direction.

As an anonymous member of Congress put it, “Organizational trust gets rebuilt based on actions, not words,” they said. “The IQA needs to do the things it says it is doing in order to rebuild trust. For example, turning around the rulebook relatively quickly is a great way to start!”

Recently Nicole Hammer, Interim Executive Director, posted in the Facebook group IQA: All the Regions! inviting questions to be sent to her. The positive steps she’s taken have not gone unnoticed.


Nicole Hammer, Interim Executive Director of the IQA | Photo credit: Sebastiam Eyzaguirre
“I feel like the communication has improved in the past few months and especially Brian and Nicole have been doing a great job of that, but there is still a lot of room to improve,” Jerona van der Gevel, the former President of Quidditch Nederland said.

Rebecca Alley, Executive Manager for the IQA’s European Committee, explained how that committee turned itself around, suggesting that it could be a blueprint for the IQA. 

“When I first took over, there was a lot of tension and the European community was less than impressed with the [European Committee],” she said. “It seemed that things were slow, not transparent, and nobody really knew what we did. One of the goals of the first six months after they hired an Executive Manager and a Secretary was to improve communication and transparency, and I know we’ve certainly had fewer complaints about it — it might be that things are rolling smoothly and getting accomplished, so nobody cares, but either way it absolutely is possible to change public opinion of an international sports organization in under a year.”

Hammer has seemingly begun taking these steps. She has indicated plans to work on multiple projects, including a strategic plan in collaboration with IQA staffers, though it  is unclear what this will involve. Given that we’re just weeks into her tenure, it seems too early to reach a conclusion on whether Hammer has discovered the elixir that will repair the IQA’s troubled image; however, she does seem to recognize that there is a problem. 

“I definitely feel that many things have fallen by the wayside due to a major lack of communication by all parties,” she said. “While it seems a mess, I also see a lot of potential for our organization and, with the staff we have now, I am confident that we will be able to pull through.”

Trustee Chris Daw seemed a bit less willing to admit there was a problem with the IQA, and instead focused on the expectations those in quidditch have for the organisation.

Speaking directly to the community, he implored: “Do not let your passion outweigh your patience. Your passion is fantastic, your patience is stretched.”

He even suggested that the first sentence of that mantra was so important, maybe it should be the title of this piece.

Jill Staniec, a member of the Congress and the Quidditch Canada Membership Director, made a similar argument. “People who don’t have a lot of experience in amateur sport don’t understand what the IQA is even supposed to do and are getting frustrated and angry that it’s not doing what they think it should,” she said. “And that can range from frustration at them not serving individual humans as if they were the IQA’s members (they aren’t) to putting on these massive expectations that the organization could not possibly meet given the timelines, numbers of volunteers, and the funding they seem to have.”

Still, while Daw and Oughtibridge are seven months into their tenure and have asked for patience and promised change, it is difficult for many to trust an organisation that they have watched flounder for the past two years. The IQA needs volunteers; but the IQA also needs good faith to attract significant recruitment. It is not for the community, already being drained dry by team leadership recruitment, NGB recruitment, and various other recruitment, to be expected to take a gamble on the IQA becoming better as soon as they join. Indeed, many major critics of the IQA are high-level volunteers themselves, and are more than familiar with the frustrations of quidditch administration. 

An anonymous member of Congress expressed both frustration at the IQA’s past and optimism for the future. “The IQA inherited great social media channels that are used mostly for formal policy announcements (their Facebook page has over 70,000 likes, and their Twitter account has almost 12,000 followers) that don’t really engage the type of fan who likes quidditch and the IQA – though their Twitter account has been used a lot more effectively in the last few months,” an anonymous source said. “I think the new constitution will help, in that it seems to give more freedom to the Executive Director and their staff to actually run the organization. Also, the fact that World Cup happened and was run well can serve as an anchor point and a catalyst for more change.”

Alley seems to agree. “I think that at the moment, there’s a lot of work to be done, starting with rebuilding public trust in the IQA,” she said. “That’s something the organization is going to have to earn, and it’s going to take time. It’s going to take good staff and a lot of projects followed through with, on time and with high standards, and a lot more transparency and better communication than is happening right now.”


The Right People


The IQA has seemingly already taken steps to regain public trust with the appointment of Nicole Hammer. Homel was very complimentary of his interim successor. 

“She’s one of those masochists like me who is comfortable sacrificing job title and free time to do the work that needs to be done,” Homel said. “Given the staffing of the IQA right now, those people are in short supply. Each one of them has been massively influential. Nicole is very good at getting s*** done. She cares. She is willing to sacrifice her time. She’s invested and she gets stuff done. I think she’ll do an excellent job maintaining the organization until they make a permanent hiring decision.” 

However, Trustee Chris Daw was more reserved, and urged people not to expect Hammer to be made a permanent fixture without due process. “Nicole is the temporary Executive Director, until such a time as the hiring process is done,” he said. “It’s important not to obscure the difference between temporary and a permanent hire.”

For Alley, the most important thing the IQA can do to regain trust is to make wise hiring decisions. 

“Looking from the top down, I think it’s going to take a new executive director, CEO, or whatever structure is necessary following incorporation, who has vision and can really get that buy-in from the top people,” Alley said. “If that person can create a team of directors and managers who believe in them, and if that team can then start to deliver on promises and win back the public trust bit by bit, then I think that’ll start to reduce the stigma and get lower-level volunteers more excited about the organization as people see the good that can be done, and as people learn that the organization will listen to them and will serve the community and the sport in useful and reliable ways.”

“If you give a mediocre idea to the right team, they’ll turn it into something amazing,” said former Trustee Alicia Radford. “If you give an amazing idea to the wrong team, it’ll still fail.” 

The IQA is currently without a full-time executive director and has the opportunity to appoint a new Board of Trustees when the new constitution is approved. The organisation hasn’t reached its full potential, but now has a fresh start. The first steps have been taken, with the appointment of Maria Belyaeva as Marketing Manager, Pauline Raes as Referee Development Manager, and Matthew Guenzel as Membership Director. It now needs to continue making sure it has the right people in the right place and make the most of this opportunity. 

A Clear Plan

One underlying problem we’ve found while analysing the issues explored in this article is that there seems to be neither a clear goal nor a clear division of responsibilities. The IQA must determine its strategic goals and member roles if it is to remain relevant and advance the sport.

“If the IQA can be ‘reset’ with clear lines of communication and clear job roles and expectations of everyone involved it could rapidly be a roaring success, as it should be,” said Ashley Cooper. “It just needs to organise itself internally and go on to gain the backing of the NGBs again.” 

“The quidditch community must make a decision, and it’s not an easy one,” Daw said. 

Ultimately, the decision the community makes about the direction of quidditch and of the IQA will impact the sport and its future for years to come. It is therefore absolutely vital that the issues outlined in this piece, the feedback given by major stakeholders in the organisation, and the flaws in transparency and efficiency, are all taken on board by the IQA. Failure to do so will spell disaster for the experiment, and throw the development of our sport into jeopardy. 

Though this is a huge mountain to climb, and there must be patience from the community, the leadership of the IQA are fast running out of chances to regain the goodwill of the people they serve. Changes must be made, before this difficult battle can be won. But the important lesson is that it can be won.

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