International School Sport Federation Executive Meeting in Johannesburg Winter 2015

Cycle

*Disclaimer – As ever, following my attendance at an ISF meeting, I am writing my own personal recollection of the meeting. The post is not an official report. The minutes will be published in a month or two.

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I am very pleased to include in this post, a copy of the account of the meeting that was posted on the ISF website:-

The 2nd Executive Committee (EC) finished Friday last week after days of insightful discussions and presentations at the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). The official opening was done by Ms Patience Shikwambana, SASCOC General Manager, Mr Les Williams, SASCOC 2nd Vice President, and Mr Laurent Petrynka, ISF President.

One of the items on the agenda the first day was the recommendations from the ISF Convention, which took places in Doha, Qatar earlier this year. Based on the recommendations both Beach Games and Winter Games were approved to be organised in future with the latter one including alpine ski, cross-country, and snowboarding.

Another topic that was discussed at the Convention was the frequency of the Gymnasiade. Having received a bid for the Gymnasiade to be organised already in 2018 (2 years after the Gymnasiade in Turkey), the ISF President and Secretary General will make a preliminary visit to check if the proposal can be submitted to the General Assembly (GA) in May next year. The GA, according to ISF rules, must approve the next Gymnasiade’s place and date.

The EC decided to move the GA meeting 2016 from Trabzon, Turkey in July (linked to the Gymnasiade) to Marmaris, Turkey mid-May in order to be able to focus on the meeting exclusively.

Besides this, the EC also addressed the recommendation concerning the participation of selected teams and schools teams, and they accepted that selected teams, i.e. athletes, can participate in individuals sports; next year’s table tennis, badminton and cross-country, and in 2017 athletics, swimming and orienteering, without entering a school team. Adjusting the mode of entry like this, the hope is to have more countries participating in the WSC.

Along with the approval of selected teams, the EC agreed to create four commissions within the areas of education, health and medical, gender equality, and marketing and communication with the purpose of focusing attention on the development of these matters.

Moving on from the recommendations introduced in Doha, another item on the agenda was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Peace and Sport presented by its Director Laurent Dupont and following approved by the EC. The official signing of the MoU will take place on November 26 during a press conference at the Peace and Sport Forum in Monaco. Following this presentation, the state of affairs for the ISF School Sport Foundation was introduced including the announcement of a solidarity trail that will be organised next year on May 29 for the benefit of the School Sport Foundation.

Some of the highlights from the following days include, among others, the introduction of new statutes and bye-laws, which are all rooted in the purpose of making ISF more transparent and international while assisting the facilitation and acceleration of the decision-making process. Additionally, the EC accepted five new affiliated member countries, which include USA, Cuba, Albania, Republic of Srpska and Azerbaijan, and finally they designated the host countries for the World Schools Championships 2018 except for the WSC Table Tennis and Ski 2018, which are still open for bids until the next EC taking place in May 2016. The countries that were attributed a WSC 2018 during the EC include:

  • India, Pune – Badminton
  • France, Paris – Cross-Country
  • Qatar, Doha – Handball
  • Israel, Ramat Gan – Futsal
  • Czech Republic, Brno – Volleyball
  • Serbia, Belgrade – Basketball 3×3

The EC congratulates all the countries and is looking forward to follow up their preparations towards these future championships.

My own report of this memorable Execitive meeting could be summarised by these bullet points:

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  1. The committee met up over the week in Johannesburg, staying in the Sandton Sun hotel. A really friendly hotel – will we ever forget the fabulous singing and dancing of the hotel staff on our last night?!
  2. We were treated to a truly fabulous night away at the malaria free Game Park at Pilansberg. How lucky we felt to see so many animals, and to be hosted in the fabulous Ivory Lodge hotel.
  3. The meeting was well attended, though we missed Nicos, Peter, David, Martin, Carmen, Ana Maria, and Karl. I worry that in some cases, this might have been the costs associated with attendance?
  4. The Management Committee reported further extension of the various Memos of Understanding (MOU’s). This is of course very good. Though all these things will require constant “maintenance”. In the case of Sport Accord – I worry about how we go forward, as Sport Accord itself seems now to be very fragile. Important to ISF – as it is with and through Sport Accord that we had hoped to develop the anti- drug policy and  procedures. We noted that whilst the IOC seems to be happy to support the ISF in principle there is to be no finance from the IOC to support the ISF.
  5. An important section of the Executive’s meeting was the discussion of the Management Committee to take forward the DOHA 2015 Vision. These papers on the Statutes and Governance Code are drafts – we have until May to come up with amendments. Personally I think the draft papers are a good start – but we do need an independent overview of management committee decisions. This overview needs to be clear and built into the new governance structures. We don’t have to look far just now to see problems that some world sports federations are having. We should consider how to  implement the simple suggestions that Arnout Geeraert made to us at the Doha convention. I also still feel that we should try to set up online topic based policy discussion groups. Perhaps my IT knowledgeable friends can advise?
  6.  Much discussion surrounded the future rules surrounding future ISF events. In particular on the issue of select (national) teams, and school teams. It was argued by a number of members that many countries could not participate unless as select teams. The Executive agreed that school teams will always be central to ISF events. But the EC have now agreed to invite countries to send either or both national/select teams and school teams to ISF World Schools Championships for the  individual sports. 
  7. India is keen to become more involved in the ISF programme. With a potential funding package  to support the ISF – it has come up with an ambitious plan to host a number of ISF events. To start with they have been awarded the ISF cricket in 2016. Then the possibility for wrestling in 2017 and badminton in 2018. India is trying to send athletes to the majority of ISF events.
  8. Various commissions to take forward the work of the ISF are to be established; Education/ Health & Medical/ Gender Equality/ Marketing & Communication.
  9. Technical Commissions – are now each expected to contain  Sports expertise/a member of the International Federation/Communications expert/Education expert and also a Medical Health expert. This will of course be challenging. Some commissions do struggle already with language and sometimes event sports specific expertise.
  10. The Finance issues discussed included –
    A) The increased daily rates and the potential of the Indian sponsorship results in a positive financial outlook. It was agreed to add a third member of staff to the ISF HQ team;
    B) It was also agreed to increase the per diem rate for attendance to 70 Euros for Technical Commission Chairs, and slightly more for the President, Executive Director and Continental Presidents.
  11. The new ISF Foundation (set up to facilitate some activity in the very deprived areas of the world). A first project has been already been delivered in conjunction with the Peace and Sport charity. It is hoped that all member countries will consider new ways of fund-raising for this Foundation.
  12. The various event reports of past/recent ISF events were given. Personally I think these reports should focus on any ideas for improvement for the next event. It was mentioned that the safety and security of the participants should always be central to each event.

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The day after I was the last to leave the hotel, as my plane left at midnight. I was able to speak to one or two Committee colleagues. We all commented on what a memorable a meeting we had had. And how lucky we were to enjoy such hospitality. The ISF is set for a big, bright future, but does have to work hard at the to keep the values of school sport as essential elements of the ways of working.

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