On 13 October, European Athletics organised a Member Federations Workshop in the framework of the annual European Athletics Convention which was organised in Funchal, Madeira. For this year’s Workshop, European Athletics decided to put good governance and more precisely the implementation of good governance by the national federations, at the centre of the discussions. With athletics at various levels going through a reform process, it was a call to their member federations to engage in the topic at national level as well. The Workshop sparked a keen interest among the national athletics federations as over 60 participants from 32 national athletics federations participated.
The keynote speech of the Workshop was provided by Alex McLin, former-CEO of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and CAS Arbitrator. McLin is also part of both the IAAF and the ASOIF Governance Task Force. Especially on the latter, he updated the participants on the recent developments in terms of principles, guidelines and tools for International Federations. His keynote speech was titled “Worthiness” referring to the need to build legitimacy as autonomy and the right of self-government can only be guaranteed when a sport organisation is governed well in line with sound governance principles. In this regard, he stressed the importance of introspection and regular self-evaluation as crucial activities for sport organisations.
Following the keynote speech, Curt Högberg of the Swedish Athletics Federation, provided the example of how one national athletics federation had dealt with the implementation of good governance. He also included a comparison with other Nordic athletics federations. One particular element that sparked an interesting discussion was the use of an election committee that is evaluating suggested candidates for Board positions and subsequently is providing advice to the General Assembly on these candidates.
As the importance of self-evaluation became clear in the presentations of these two speakers, Matthias Van Baelen presented the self-evaluation tool that was developed in the framework of the SIGGS Project and which is targeting national sport organisations (NOCs and national sport federations). Following this introduction, the participants were able to fill in the self-evaluation and consult their own Action Plan. In particular, the ability to get customised guidance and Action Plan, which is generated automatically and tailor-made to the situation of national federations, was highly welcomed by the participants.
To conclude the Workshop, Bill Glad of European Athletics raised the question on “what’s next” for good governance in the national athletics federations and how European Athletics can support the federations. In this regard, several proposals were mentioned including the organisation of similar meetings in the future building on the current results of the SIGGS self-evaluation. Finally, Jean Gracia, interim-CEO of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) and Vice-President of European Athletics, urged all member federations to assess their strengths and weaknesses by using the SIGGS tool. He also stressed that this Workshop is the beginning of a continuous conversation between European athletics and the member federations.