An open letter from Trustee Nicholas Oughtibridge to the IQA's Members

Published: 01 December 2018
Written by IQA Staff

On Dec. 1, 2018, Congress will vote on whether to adopt a new constitution that will completely transform the International Quidditch Association. Ahead of this crucial meeting, Trustee Nicholas Oughtibridge sent a letter to IQA members (National Governing Bodies [NGBs]; President of Congress Brian Gallaway, and the Quidditch Post. Before we release a full article on the new constitution after the Congress meeting, we would like to clarify some points mentioned in Oughtibridge’s letter. The full text of the letter is provided at the end of this article.

As the International Quidditch Association, it is our job to lead and promote the sport of quidditch by holding international sporting events, supporting other quidditch groups, and by sharing quidditch and our values of gender equity and inclusivity with a broader audience. We do this by holding events like IQA World Cup and continental games. We have built a robust membership team that is working with NGBs of all sizes to compile resources to support our members and the quidditch community as a whole. One example of this is our NGB Partnership Program which pairs developed NGBs with less developed NGBs. Our membership team is also working on expanding the sport worldwide by supporting countries that do not yet have any infrastructure for the sport.

Since quidditch was founded it has always been a gender inclusive sport. Quidditch is the world's only mixed-gender, full-contact sport. We embrace players of all genders and sexualities. We are continuously working with our members and volunteers to ensure that our sport continues to be as inclusive as possible. To bring quidditch core values to a broader audience, the International Quidditch Association is planning to join an international sport organization.

Oughtibridge notes in his letter that the constitution would prepare the IQA to join the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF); however, we want to clarify that we have a long way to go before this could happen. There are many rules and regulations that quidditch would be required to meet prior to joining any of these federations, perhaps most significantly a threshold of 40 members (members in this case meaning National Governing Bodies) from three continents and recognition from National Olympic Committees. Currently 109 sports are members of GAISF. Joining GAISF would unlock a number of critical resources for the IQA and perhaps most importantly, enable the IQA to unlock access to prestigious international competitions.

By joining GAISF, the IQA will have more resources to better serve our community. GAISF’s mission encourages knowledge-sharing and an exchange of information between its members. GAISF aims to develop specific services for its members. It also organizes and supports multi-sport events and supports the organization of multi-sports games by its members. Although GAISF membership is a long way away, being part of this organization would help the sport grow, flourish, and perhaps one day become an Olympic sport.

Whether we become an Olympic sport or not, quidditch could not have come so far without the constant support from people building its community. National Governing Bodies are but one of these actors, working endlessly to develop sport at a national or regional level.

Below is the full text of the letter. The original text has not been edited. Nicholas Oughtibridge is not resigning from his position as a trustee but rather indicating that he does not intend to be a trustee of the new IQA organization following incorporation. The IQA does not endorse the opinions presented in this letter and the opinions are solely of Nicholas Oughtibridge.

Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Dear IQA members

Quidditch is about to decide whether to embark on the next step on the journey from a Harry Potter fan game to a full-blown international sport.  It’s a long journey and we’re not far along.

That next step will be a decision by congress to adopt the new constitution.  The board designed the constitution to make the IQA compatible with the world sporting community. This will involve eventual membership of Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF or SportAccord), the umbrella organisation for all Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Joining will be an important step for our future.

Although the constitution is necessary, it is just one step on a long journey. What else do we need to do?

We need a track record of good governance; we need to demonstrate we embrace fair play and manage the risk to competition from doping and we need to grow global participation in our sport.

I’m worried.  I’m not convinced that the members of the IQA are ready. Quidditch has tremendous potential, the potential to change to face of sport, but I now doubt it can achieve this.

There are three reasons for my doubt.

  1. Over the last three years the members (National Governing Bodies) of the IQA have been almost wholly absent from the IQA.  If quidditch is to grow, the members need to act as though they are a part of the federation, actively contributing expertise and manpower to their organisation.  An analogy is buying your club shirt, but never turning up for practice and grumbling when they don’t win.
  2. The board of trustees is now broadly ineffective.  It has for some time been dominated by one nation, the United States of America.  It’s short on numbers and could do with a big injection of high-calibre people representing the diversity of the world.
  3. The IQA is preoccupied by style over substance. It panders to the whims of a vocal minority at the expense of doing the right thing for our sport.  The IQA was established to govern quidditch and coordinate international competition. It’s not doing either well.

So how do we fix it?  

These actions will enable the new board to focus on its job – governing our sport and organising international competition.

So why am I so pessimistic?

I doubt the members will nominate enough high-quality trustees.  The existing trustees will then be duty bound to use their new power to appoint additional trustees from people they already know.

I no longer think I have the leverage to make the difference, so it’s likely I’ll look back and forever be disappointed that quidditch never became a proper sport.  I have therefore decided that its now probably time for me to step away.

If I’m wrong, the IQA is ready for the next step. It will become a worthy international sports federation, made up from National Governing Bodies who drive it to govern our sport and organise competition.  Quidditch will be mainstream, our reach will expand across the globe and mixed gender contact sport will become normal.

Members – prove me wrong!

Nicholas Oughtibridge

IQA Trustee / past chair

CC Board members; IQA President; Quidditch Post