President's Message - October 2010
Following my recent visit to IOC Headquarters in mid-September, I believe ICSD should further commit itself to start the long journey towards reform and recognition.
It was a pleasure to have talked with Jacques Rogge, President of IOC, for the first time since I took up the role of President twelve months ago. It was he who acknowledged that ICSD had produced its new strategic plan 2010-2013 which has given a new generation of Deaf Sport work on transforming our organisation whilst making sure that we continue to stand up for the interests of Deaf Sport across the globe.
However, it seems that we still have a lot of ground to make up if we are to rebuild the full recognition and support which initially helped to motivate us to establish the organisation in 1924.
As I have already said previously the journey will be a hard one and will take time. To succeed I believe we will need to do the following things.
We will need to learn the right lessons about our record in International Deaf Sport; we will need to be a responsible organisation with a responsible name, credibility and reputation and we will need to set out a constructive alternative to the age-old constitutions which needed reform if not transformation.
I am extremely proud that we have achieved so much with a rich history within Deaf Sport, however, I am not prepared to be someone who thinks we have to defend every step we take. We may have missed so many opportunities already. We have to acknowledge them if we are to move on and address the challenges of the future because, believe me, we have little time left but to push harder for clear reforms now.
During my first 12 months tenure as President I have managed to meet with a number of delegates, National Deaf Sport Federations, International Sport Federations, Regional Confederations, Deaf Sport leaders, athletes, and members of Deaf Sport Reform Commission. This has enabled me to understand why we are now at a crossroads in our direction and development as an organisation. Somehow we still find ourselves working harder than ever but it becomes no easier to get by. We all want to have better opportunities than we have enjoyed, but we have been stung by the apparent lack of recognition of Deaflympics and the lack of rapport and understanding of Deaf Sport itself by fellow member countries.
We have played by the rules, but probably didn’t feel like our status was being rewarded with responsibility and we are more anxious than ever about recognition.
Deaf Sport Federations wanted an organisation that would stand up for them but I sensed we still have issues about trust.
Therefore, we must look ahead and accept the challenges we faced in the past and we must then show that we have to change. We cannot afford to lose touch with the mainstream opportunities offered by our organisation to Deaf Sport nations battling to gain / re-gain recognition in their countries.
The second task facing us is to be a responsible organisation.
It is essential for our members that this organisation is held to account for its actions.
However, I will do that in a way so that we don’t fall into the trap of opportunism. On the full membership issue we will need to redress the statutes in such a way that they appear reasonable and flexible to Deaf Sport who face economic and recognition decisions; we cannot oppose any potential opportunity for integration via national sovereignty. After years of preservation, our organisation will now need to learn to do more with less.
That does not mean simply swallowing the programme of changes the organisation is setting out without question and justification.
If we aim to set out any approaches that are deemed to be reasonable, we will support it when it is right.
That is the kind of approach I have taken during my first 12 month tenure:
- supporting the organisation’s strategic timetable through Deaf Sport Reform;
- pushing hard for professional standards of performance and financial competency on Slovakia 2011 Winter Deaflympics;
- firming up realistic logistical and financial goals for Greece 2013 Summer Deaflympics;
- pledging to Vancouver for its continued battle to do away with its strategic objectives for 2015 Winter Deaflympics;
- consolidating our policies and procedures such as WADA, etc.
To move on, we will do more than just acknowledge our issues and provide a positive dose of realism.
We will set out our plans for the future so we provide a clear focus to the organisation. This will take time, but is a core part of showing that we are an organisation in waiting of getting a fuller recognition via Deaf Sport Reform.
We will set out a new approach to inspire and boost the availability of Deaflympics, International Sports and with the emergence of Youth sports this will send reverberating messages to Deaf athletes all over.
A new approach to Deaf Sport that protects the things we greatly value in our cultures that Sport itself contributes to; a new approach to equality that will help forge a less divided view of our organisation. But make no mistake I will ensure that I will fight for our future for as long as necessary.
My aim is to show that the organisation is supporting the push for reforms for a better Deaf Sport organisation and for everyone who has worked hard and wants to get on. My aim is to return our organisation to full recognition with partnerships, this is a tough challenge, it will be a long journey.
Twelve months ago member nations already made the first step to change by electing a new President from a new generation, it is now down to me to make the change happen. That is a challenge I relish and expect the ICSD Board, Commissions, Regional Confederations, National Sport federations to follow this example as I believe it is the only way forward for our organisation.
Craig A Crowley MBE