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Published in Sports Management 13 Jun 2016 issue 122
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

Individual NGB board members must be scrutinised

Dr Geoff Walters,

Senior lecturer in Management Director,

Sport Business Centre

Governance and the role of the board of sport organisations is an extremely prominent issue, particularly following the fall-out at FIFA. While media attention is focused on the largest, and richest, federations, many smaller sporting organisations and national governing bodies continue to face scrutiny.

The UK has led the way in promoting the governance agenda. The last five years has seen the launch of various codes of governance, while the Sporting Future strategy document published by the government in December 2015 stated there will be a mandatory code of governance for sports organisations in receipt of public funding.

This comes at a particularly pertinent time. At the end of May the findings from the review of the decision by the European Judo Union to strip the British Judo Association of the right to host the 2015 European Judo Championships were published. The review revealed that a sponsorship deal negotiated by the chair of the BJA had not been agreed to by the EJU and there were conflicts of interest surrounding the details of the deal.

This episode demonstrates that governance is fundamentally about individual board member behaviour. Processes can be put in place to ensure transparency in regard to board size, structure, and recruitment. However, the process around how boards make decisions is complicated and self-serving behaviour is not easy to eradicate.

Therefore, while the new code is a welcome addition to the sport governance landscape, it must not be seen as a panacea for all types of governance failing; it is simply another example of further promoting the importance of governance and the role of the board of sport organisations.

Volunteers crucial to community sports clubs’ health

Carwyn Young,

Volunteering lead,

Sport Wales

It is said that ‘people make the difference’. When this statement is considered in the context of the sport sector it takes on a new level of significance. It makes us realise how dependent we are on an army of people that give up their time for no direct financial gain – our sports volunteers.

So what would happen if we didn’t have sports volunteers? Some sporting activity would still be accessible via private and local authority providers. However, it is probable that community sport would cease to exist, having huge implications for society as a whole, as the core identity of a number of our communities is intrinsically linked to their sports clubs.

Schools may introduce individuals to sporting activity, but it is community clubs that provide the opportunity to participate, receive coaching and compete in sport on a regular basis. It is highly likely that the people running the club and delivering the coaching are volunteers. The phenomenon that is Parkrun is also dependent on volunteers to organise each run.

With local authority investment into sport and leisure under constant attack, the transfer of assets to the community is seen as one option to continued sporting provision. Whether to undertake ‘asset transfer’ is probably one of the biggest decisions that community sports clubs have had to make and the decision is being made by our sporting volunteers and what they decide could change the sporting landscape forever.

Even the biggest sporting events are dependent on volunteers, the recent World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff had 1,200 volunteers active on the day making sure runners had a great experience.

So it’s vital that we as a sport sector ensure that our sports volunteers are valued, developed and supported as I can’t see a future without them.

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