There and Back Again – Edinburgh to Doha
I was able to enjoy my weekly Sunday morning walk on the Pentland Hills (immediately to the south of Edinburgh); before heading out on the new tram to Edinburgh airport to join the direct 7 hour flight to Doha with Qatar Airways.
After a comfortable flight, I was met at the airport and driven the short distance to the Doha Marriot. It was a pleasure to learn that 51 countries where to be represented at this, the first ever ISF convention. We were gathered to consider vision 2030; a long term plan for the growth of the ISF.
The essence of the Convention was structured around eight key topics:
- International Relations
- Education/Public Social Responsibility and Ethics
- School Sport
- Girls & Women
- Communications & Digital Tools
- ISF events
- Equality and School sport
- Marketing, Sponsorship & Finance.
The program involved all the delegates participating in plenary sessions on these topics when presentations were made by “outside experts”. Then on each day- delegates chose to participate in specific breakout topic led workshops.
I was very pleased that SportScotland funded the travel of one expert, Dr Arnout Geerart of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He spoke at the convention on the topic of sports governance and its transparency. Arnout gave a very well received presentation including some ideas for the ISF Executive to consider itself and took a very active part in the subsequent workshop.
The aspiration for 9 workshops where that – 5 recommendations to be made for the ISF Executive and 5 recommendations for external organisations.
In my own case (again my participation at the convention and executive meeting funded by SportScotland) I enjoyed co-chairing the education/social responsibilities workshop. It was certainly a very multinational, multilingual workshop. But great fun and I feel, very useful for the ISF. I have submitted the workshop recommendations to the management committee and I have also suggested that a number of online working groups be formed to take forward the recommendations on behalf of the executive. It was obvious we were blessed with the presence of many very experienced delegates and experts whose ideas and experience could be incorporated in the future practices and policies of the ISF.
The Convention and the Executive committee meeting where hosted by the Qatar School Sport Federation and the Qatar Olympic committee. We were all honoured with a marvellous visit to the Aspire Centre – the most extraordinary spectacular Sports Center I have ever seen. The Aspire houses international quality performance venues for so many sports – for example; a full-sized indoor football pitch; two 50 meter swimming pools; a full sized indoor athletics arena; basketball/volleyball/Martial arts/fencing arenas. All of these arenas with marvellous spectator facilities. My own sport of swimming has already stage a world championship event here and I understand will stage FINA World Cup events over the next two years.
The Qatar schools sports Federation staged its Olympic finals – covering a range of sports during the week with 3000 students from 230 different schools participating. I should also mention that as ever this convention gave the opportunity to have ssome really enjoyable discussions, and to meet up with some really impressive people. This time I was fortueate to be in the company of the Brad Allen, (Executive Officer for schoolsport Australia0, and also Garry Carnachan ( Executive Director of New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council Inc.). I was very impressed with the New Zealand school sport participation data and code of conduct.
The new ISF Foundation was also launched during the convention. It is hoped that the foundation through raising friends from the corporate sector will facilitate sports aid to the developing countries of the world. The first project is to develop and assist with teacher and coach education in Sierra Leone.
The ISF Executive Meeting
As ever the agenda for our meeting looked quite daunting so much to consider, so little time.
ISF President – News & Updates
Laurent Petrynka ISF president, reported on his activities, these included meetings with UNESCO, IOC, FIFA , and Sport Accord,
He outlined the plan to produce a “white book” following the convention which would include various workshop recommendations for the ISF’s future. Laurent also outlined his thoughts about enlarging the Gymnasiade as an event staged every four years by adding sports, widening age groups, and by developing the plans in cooperation with the big sports networks and city events structures around the world.
Other News & Updates
In other reports it was exciting to learn of the expansion in the ISF membership in particular in the Americas with Ecuador and Peru joining the ISF and an aspiration for the USA to join ISF.
Asian ISF member countries will stage a track and field championship alongside the ISF athletics in Wuhan China 27th June to 2nd July 2015.
It was encouraging to note the number of memorandums of understanding (MOU’s) that have now been signed with world sports organisations and in particular with world sports federations.
There were presentations made on each of the ISF events being staged in 2015 and 2016. It was significant to note strongly critical reports on certain events for example on accommodation or on the sports venue provision. In each case, it appears that actions are being made to rectify the event planning.
There were also comments made about trying to space out the timing of ISF events. Currently many events overlap or are held very close to each other.
Personally I have been asked to be the ISF delegate to the forthcoming Education School Games being staged in Greece 2nd -7th May 2015. Currently, I am in dialogue with Stelios Daskalis (Greece), discussing their plans and making some small suggestions to be added into the programme. I am really looking forward to meeting up with the young people from around the world and possibly some of the future sports leaders of the world!
Revenue & Sponsorship
There was much discussion about the need to raise revenues for the ISF as it expands its operations. Revenue will depend on identifying sponsors grants from world and Continental government organisations and of course from ISF events. Consequently it was agreed that the daily and ISF rate of €44 per day will require to rise by €2 every two years and that the levy/entry free will rise from €30 to €50. But these plans would commence following the Gymnasiade and General Assembly in 2016.
Rugby – Rugby 7’s
Rugby 7’s are being staged in France at Balma as a trial event 2nd – 6th June 2015. I have to express my great disappointment that despite my best efforts to encourage the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) to send the boys and girls team to this first rugby sevens event, no Scottish school has come forward. Personally I believe Rugby 7’s could be a very useful platform to develop schools rugby amongst the state schools of Scotland.
Football – Schools Euro 2016
Another very interesting event being staged in France is in football. The UNSS (The French School Sport Federation) is staging Schools Euro 2016. This event will encompass a football tournament targeting the European countries that did not qualify for Euro 16 – and a forum to discuss Youth football. This major event will be staged in the cities of Lille and Lens June 2016. There will be both girls and boys teams involved. Could we send Scottish teams to participate?
2016 ISF Gymnasiade – Trabzon, Turkey
In looking forward to the various ISF events being staged around the world I am planning to communicate and discuss these events with the appropriate sports governing bodies in Scotland. I am pleased for example to report that Scottish Schools Swimming hopes to send a team to the 2016 ISF Gymnasiade in Trabzon, Turkey.
The core sports of athletics/ gymnastics ( artistic/rhythmic/aerobic)/ swimming will be staged. In addition the host nation of Turkey has added tennis/ fencing /chess and wrestling. There will also be a volunteer development project being staged as a special event.
ISF Digital Communication Upgrade
The Executive Committee paid tribute to the new setting up of the digital communication tools of ISF Facebook and ISF Twitter accounts and indeed the new ISF website. It was recognised how much interest these new communication tools had encouraged interest from participating teams and athletes. It was also, of course recognised that more work is required to be done to enable and support the administrative functions of the ISF. But of course it was recognised also that such development will require additional finance.
Readers will recognise that this is but a personal summary of events at the ISF Convention and Executive meeting. The formal minutes are likely to be available in a month or more. The nest meeting of the ISF Executive will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in October.
a few pictures from my time in Doha: