World Cup from their Perspective: Volunteer Coordinator Bebe Ashley

Bebe Ashley (left) working with her team to distribute volunteer shirts. | Photo Credit: Jelmer Lokman

By Bebe Ashley

My name is Bebe Ashley, and I was volunteer coordinator for the 2016 IQA World Cup. This was my first, but hopefully not last, tournament committee position.

When I was interviewed by Matt Guenzel and an HR representative of the IQA, I’d just come off the back of volunteering for Rugby World Cup and captaining Exeter Patronum to their first attendance at a tournament. My only claim to tournament experience was serving as merchandise manager of European Quidditch Cup a couple of years ago, where I attended wild-eyed but enchanted that large-scale tournaments could be run unpaid by people who donate a couple of hours a week of their spare time and a lot of sleep the week of the tournament. I was determined that I could be volunteer coordinator and that this wasn’t a chance that could be missed. When again would I have enough time, money, and motivation to take part in something so extraordinary?

I think a large part of the success of World Cup was due to the compatibility of the organising committee. We had a weekly standing meeting that included icebreakers even up until our final week. (My favourites include Pokemon Go or Pokemon No?; Favourite dance move; Stranded on an island with which committee member?) For those of you wondering what the organising committee involves pre-tournament, it was a combination of meetings, shared Google Drives, and constantly asking what other members of the committee thought of our various projects.

There was a real variety of experience and time zones, but it was only halfway through Saturday that I realised this was the first time we’d met and worked together in person. Huge credit here must also go to the leadership of Matt Guenzel; he was outstanding, stayed later than anybody else, and understood the politics of the IQA and things that went way over my head. Ultimately, his strive to have the highest-standard tournament drove the rest of us towards excellence, and I hope it is as obvious to players and spectators that Matt deserves all the praise being heaped onto him.

The thing with World Cup is that it happens whether you are ready or not. Did I feel ready? No. Was it happening anyway? Yes. What was I going to do? Try my best and know that that was all I could give. When it got to the Saturday 6 a.m. breakfast meeting, I was no longer sure I could do it. My eyes sunburnt, it looked like I would burst into tears at any given moment. I choked down half a croissant and stumbled down to the pitches. As we arrived at the venue, I saw some of the most dedicated volunteers already moving tents and setting up the pitches. I knew then that I’d selected some of the most selfless and committed people and that they would do their absolute best to make sure this tournament ran correctly. You can prepare as much as you like, but a lot of credit needs to be given to individuals who will go above and beyond to get things done. Some of my volunteers absolutely did. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons, mostly about pre-tournament communication, and whilst there are a lot of things I would like to redo, I’m proud of how well my volunteers ran World Cup.

Bebe Ashley (left) working with her team to distribute volunteer shirts. | Photo Credit: Jelmer Lokman

I do not like running, hence why I wouldn’t stand a chance of making the national team. I’m quite sure, however, that over the four days of the tournament I ran more and certainly lifted more than I ever have. My philosophy was that I could not ask my volunteers to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Therefore, when the bins needed to be emptied, I came along with bin bags; if fences needed replacing, I’d grab the other end. This accumulated in the walk back to the Ibis hotel after the social, abandoning out early from exhaustion. Slightly numb from alcohol, I needed to stop several times and ended up crawling through the doorframe into the bedroom. So despite the fact as a committee member you don’t play over the weekend, you certainly feel a tournament physically, and I welcomed the buzz of endorphins come Monday morning.

What would I say to other vastly inexperienced members of the community who want to give tournament committee a go? Go for it. Everyone in quidditch comes from somewhere, and we each have different skills. Someone will always be ready to give you a pep talk, and you’ll always be ready to help someone else out when the time comes. Before writing this article, I rewrote my CV, and the role that I’m sure is going to get me an interview and takes pride of place at the top of the relevant experience is volunteer coordinator for IQA 2016 Quidditch World Cup.