I first discovered quidditch in Europe in March or April 2014, when I was on the Erasmus Programme in Poland. I had heard some things before on television about the old “World Cups” in the US, but that was all. I met a woman online whose boyfriend was involved in Spanish quidditch and I asked them to get me involved. Then I met the, at the time, developing Spanish quidditch community. It had the Catalonian teams, with Barcelona Eagles being the most well known, but the rest of the Spanish teams were scattered throughout the country. Development in the Catalonian region was growing, with the Nightmare Grims starting to play, but it was not the same for the other regions of Spain.
Then I learnt that, because of the development in the Catalonian region and knowing that teams need a National Governing Body (NGB) to go to European Quidditch Cup (EQC), Catalonia was creating its own NGB: Associació de Quidditch de Catalunya (AQC). There were some contentious arguments after that, because people did not understand why Catalonia was on its own – as one might imagine given the tense emotions across Spain surrounding the Catalonian independence movement. Some agressive and mean-spirited things were said in the Quidditch Europe Facebook group by some of the Spanish players, who saw the existence of a Catalonian NGB as a political move they didn’t agree with, and the image of the Spanish quidditch community (not including Catalonia) as a result was quite bad.
I came back to Bizkaia, Spain in September 2014 and went to my first ever quidditch tournament, the first edition of the Barcelona Moustaches Time tournament. It was there that I met the quidditch community properly, was received as an equal, and felt like I was part of a family, even though we had just met. Of course, I fell in love with the sport almost instantly.
The next step was to create my own team and, at the same time, help create the Spanish NGB, Asociación Quidditch España (AQE). Both things were more difficult than I thought. I gathered some people on Facebook and we started the Bizkaia Boggarts in December 2014. We had only four players for the first month and six players for the next six months, but I was happy because I was able to create a team from scratch.
Setting up the NGB was different. We had the help of our Catalonian siblings from the beginning. We decided to create committees to work on different things (constitution, elections, trying to prepare the first Spanish Cup, and so on). I decided to help with everything I could. I have to say that, from the beginning, the people from Catalonia were willing to have our team as part of their NGB, but I thought that it was better to stay and try to help the AQE grow rather than join the already-established AQC.
We had some issues while we were working on all of this. Some people didn’t agree with decisions that were made, and, instead of saying that directly to the committee, they started working behind our backs to try and make another NGB. But, thanks to the IQA, and especially Karen Kumaki (who has been involved in Europe for the IQA in its various forms for years, and is now the organisation’s Events Manager), we continued working on making a great NGB in our country.
Despite this, it was a great accomplishment for us to be able to take a national team to the first IQA European Games in the summer of 2015. It was not the best team we could have sent, but it was important for quidditch in Spain and for the visibility of the Spanish NGB in European competitive quidditch.
When the first elections for the AQE board were held, many people were hesitant to get involved, so I stepped forward and volunteered myself as president. I had little knowledge of bureaucracy or procedure. I just wanted to make quidditch grow in Spain. My goal was always to get teams involved and for them to be the ones to make decisions, not just a board of five random people. And I asked for help from the beginning, because I knew that my knowledge, outside of playing quidditch itself, was quite limited. Unfortunately, for the past year, the attitude of the community has been to wait and, when decisions/work/anything was done, generally protest, and insult and harass me in particular.
I have been putting up with these kind of things for the last year, and on Oct.. 12, it all exploded. With the second edition of the Spanish Quidditch Cup in preparation, some people did not agree with the fees that we proposed (a €140 team fee, and a €12 player fee, equivalent to most fees for big tournaments and far cheaper than World Cup fees), and the insults and harassment became unbearable. I had decided to resign some days ago and, in a final meeting, the board agreed to resign as a whole.
Now I’m going to step back from the front lines. I will be focused on improving myself as a player and trying to help teams here in the Basque Country region, instead of the entire country of Spain. It’s sad for me that this had to happen. I believed in working together as a whole, but it could not be.
But I have to take some satisfaction in the progress we have made. We have been represented by our national team in two tournaments, we sent two teams to the last EQC, we have had the first Spanish Quidditch Cup, we have risen to more than 20 teams in our NGB… Even with all the problems, I feel that my time as president has been a huge success.
For the future, I hope that we improve as a community now that I am not there to be criticized. I hope that we all work together to make Spain great in the wider quidditch community. We got 10th place in the World Cup – look how far we can come when we work together! The next president will have my full support; I will help them in all I can and with all I know.
For the Spanish community, I hope that all the support you never gave to me is given to my successor. I hope that all the work that could have been done will now be done. And I hope that the image that we have fought to make better in the last year is not thrown into dirt now.
Let’s get back to having fun.
Yeray Espinosa Cuevas