In late October 2014 I had the privilege of attending the ISF Executive Meeting in Rome, Italy.
I had the double privilege of being able to arrive a few days prior to the meeting to take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the Eternal City.The sun was shining brightly for almost the time I was in Rome. I walked for miles visiting the sights, museums and galleries, enjoying coffees and pasta. Well- what else would you do?!
The Setting and Arrangements for the Meeting
I was so pleased to discover that Andrea Delpin, the ‘big cuddly Sardinian bear”, the immediate past president of the International School Sport Federation – had led organisation team that facilitated the ISF Executive meeting in Rome. His experience, and leadership manufactured a very successful programme. We ate each night in a different restaurant, we stayed in a new hotel to the south of Travestere. The formal meetings of the Executive were held at the Italian Ministry of Education – a very large and impressive building with huge ornate entrance and staircase. The meeting itself staged in the big committee chamber. On both of the two formal meeting days , we were spoiled by catering and hospitality students of the Emilio Sereni, Istitito Tecnico Agrario. The food and its presentation were outstanding. My only regret was that I could not consume a little more of the excellent wine on offer! The students themselves were very friendly and helpful. Thank you all.
We also had our cultural day with so much history all around in Rome – we enjoyed a full morning of very well guided tours of the Forum and the Colliseum. We enjoyed a small reception given in our honour by the Italian football league (Andrea used his football connections for that one!).
A major facet of the week was that everything ran to time – this success was I believe much down to the professional support of the two lovely ladies of the CWT meeting and events company.
The ISF Executive Meeting
Welcome from Italy
The first formal session of the meeting was welcomed by Giuseppo Perro, Executive Officer of the Italian Education Ministry . He outlined the current efforts to reform and re-establish school sport in Italy. This is to include appointing PE teachers in the primary schools. New school sport championships, increased integration of pupils and including Special Olympics. Giuseppo indicated that Italy wants to be a very active member of the ISF. We were given a very interesting leaflet which shows some of the new PE and school sport initiatives being undertaken in Italy.
The New President and Changes in the ISF
The Committee was very well attended – 36 delegates, with 20 voting countries present at the meeting. The following comments are simply my own personal observations. The formal minutes of the meeting will be issued quite soon.
Laurent Petryanka – the new President of ISF- welcomed the committee to Rome. He outlined the considerable actions since the June meeting in Besançon. These have included, two management committee meetings, preparation towards the convention on a new vision for the ISF to be considered at the Doha convention. Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) signings with Special Olympics and with World Badminton.
Importantly also there is a new ISF website , and a new ISF magazine. Laurent indicated that much of this had become possible with the support of colleagues from the UNSS (France) and in particular with the work of the newly appointed intern Coralie Houters. Over the coming weeks it is hoped that Communications will advance dramatically , the new website, the new Facebook account and its associated content, Youtube, Instagram, a new ISF Brochure (summarising its purposes and structure), Executive Committee membership cards, and a developing relationship with the ISF partner – Ferraro .
Laurent also mentioned the aspiration to stage a special football event at the time of the European football championships – for the countries that had NOT qualified for the Euros! Also the aspiration to stage an ISF 7-aside rugby event in Toulouse, possibly in June 2015.
Various short reports were presented by the various vice presidents. It is significant to note the increase in activity of the Asian countries in school sport events. There had been 4 Asian school sport events over the past year involving four sports.
We noted that David Manattan of Australia has recently retired from his post with the Queensland Government Education Service (Australia). But he will continue his school sport duties throughout 2015.
In South America – currently there are nine member countries, but it is hoped for a further four to join the ISF in the immediate future.
During the discussion concerning the Memos of Understanding – it is suggested that a demo Special Olympics event might be held in Limoges. It was suggested that it would be useful for interested countries to submit a paper on the topic ahead of such event – to assist in planning the detail of an ISF Special Olympics event.
It was also noted that World Badminton had produced lesson plans for badminton for use by schools.
Following the Finance Report, Laurent led a discussion on the future finance of the ISF. The management committee are considering how to raise the funding of the ISF – through sponsorship, through increased subscription increases and through increase in the 44 Euro daily fees rate for participation in ISF events. There was much discussion, but not much agreement on the way forward.
It was agreed to stage an ISF convention – open to all ISF member countries and ISF partners- in Doha, Qatar 17th – 19th March 2015. The Executive would meet on Friday 20th March 2015.
The convention will consider the future direction and processes of the ISF. There will be around 10 workshops in all. Five on each day of the convention. The Executive members were invited to volunteer themselves as workshop chairs. The workshop chair would have to develop guidelines and descriptors for each workshop. Each country would be invited to submit papers on the workshop – ahead of the meeting. Each workshop will be asked to submit 5/6 recommendations for the ISF future operations. It may be that Chairman will be invited to meet in Doha a day before the full convention assembles. It is also hoped that each workshop will have the support of an external adviser/expert.
Laurent also launched the concept of an ISF Foundation. This would be targeted at raising funds to support developing countries. Executive members would be asked to fund raise and seek sponsors from within their own countries. Executive members were also invited to inform Jan Coolen, ISF General Secretary, if they were willing to serve on the Board of the Foundation.
Laurent explained the importance of improving ISF communications. The various new initiatives were designed to assist. But Laurent advised all EC members to contribute to the communications systems – by posting articles, photos, videos et al. All technical Committees should identify individual with communications specialism, particularly with the social media platforms. We cannot expect Jan Coolen, the only full-time ISF employee to do everything himself.
It was noted that applications to join the ISF had been received by the Ivory Coast, and Pakistan.
There was a short presentation from Jose Louis Aquado on Combat Games, to be held near Malaga, Andalusia ( Spain). This might be run as ‘under the aegis’ event.
Ferraro: made a presentation on the work so far as a sponsorship partner. Then continued with the new project “Joy of Moving. The aspiration is to invite schools from member countries to submit presentations of all kinds (drawings/pictures/ blogs/stories) to be on shown at the Milano Expo 2015. There would also be an associated conference. Kinder hopes that ISF event organising committees will include Kinder in their opening ceremonies. Fair Play Awards will be sponsored by Kinder.
Reports of recent ISF events : Handball in Turkey and skiing were heard .
Skiing still seeks a venue for the 2018 event. Tennis also seeking a host for 2018
The Technical Committee chairs reported on the organisation of forthcoming events. Very impressive reports were received with event organisation and excellent facilities being reported by Swimming – Poznan (Poland); Tennis in Doha (Qatar); Football in Guatemala; Orienteering in Kamer (Turkey) and Athletics Wuhan (China). The World Educational School Games in Athens and Olympia (Greece.). Beach Volleyball and Baseball were also mentioned in Brazil and the Dominican Republic respectively.
The hosting of future events was also considered ahead of decisions on awarding events to host cities/countries. These included:
- Swim Cup going to Budapest (Hungary) – agreed.
- Athletics was awarded to Nancy (France) for 2017.
- Basketball to Croatia and Football to Prague in May 2017.
- After some last-minute politics, Tennis was awarded to Brazil – with the possibility of an extra day being required to stage the event.
Time became rather limited – to consider all the remaining agenda items. The idea to include a team sport at each four yearly Gymnasiade was met with a range of views. The ideas surrounding the introduction of a para Gymnasiade did not really have enough time for discussion as was the case of introducing an additional 12 – 14 year old age group in certain ISF events.
Assessor members of the Executive were assigned to various events as Observers. I was asked to be the EC observer at the ISF Educational School Games in Athens in May 2015. I may also be asked to be involved at the inaugural Rugby event in Toulouse in June 2015.
There is to be a European Football Meeting in France in May/June 2015. Countries whose senior team has NOT qualified will be invited to participate in the tournament.
There was not enough time to discuss the ISF anti doping strategy, and so it is hoped to consider this in Qatar. Along with the idea of establishing an ISF Health Advisory Board.
I had the floor for a very short time to put forward my thoughts about the need for the ISF to take the issues of Transparency of Governance. It was agreed that this be one of the workshop topics at the Doha convention. I am hoping that we can invite Arnout Geerart (from Play the Game) to participate as a professional observer.
It was agreed that the September/October 2015 meeting of the Executive would be in Pretoria, South Africa.