Former Presidents mark IBSA’s 40th anniversary
Date: October 10, 2021
Former Presidents of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and other wellwishers helped celebrate the organisation’s 40th birthday on Sunday (10 October) at the IBSA Conference in Amman, Jordan.
IBSA members are in Amman for the conference and General Assembly, which takes place on Monday (11 October). As part of the year-long anniversary celebrations, a section of Sunday’s agenda was dedicated to previous leaders and reflections on the achievements of the last four decades.
IBSA’s first President, Jens Bromann, who served for eight years, reflected on how perspectives towards people with vision impairments have changed: “We have been able to put these awful attitudes away,” he said, “I congratulate you all, I congratulate IBSA for the 40th anniversary.”
Another former President, Michael Barredo, sent a written message: “Having served as your past president from 2005 to 2013, it is not an easy task to run a world sports organisation such as IBSA, with all the challenges that needs to be dealt with. However, together with the past Presidents and existing leadership, it is fulfilling that we were able to provide a means or venue for visually impaired athletes to showcase their abilities in the field of sports as they participate in the various regional competitions, IBSA World Games, as well as in the Paralympic Games.”
Other luminaries from Para sport also sent messages.
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons spoke via a video message which was played during the conference: “IBSA in an incredible organisation. I have been working with IBSA since my early days in the Paralympic Movement since 1997…it has been incredible to see this long journey of IBSA. It’s not easy to be an International Federation for three big sports (goalball, judo and football-5) and at the same time the specific disability international organisation for the VI [visual impairment] and blind community and being the port of entry for athletes with visual impairments all around the world across many different sports. Not only the Paralympic sports, but also sports like showdown and tenpin bowling. It’s amazing, the growth of the organisation. The best of luck for all of you.”
“Many, congratulations on the 40th anniversary of IBSA,” Tim Reddish, multiple Paralympic Games medallist and IPC Governing Board Member, said also via a video. “You’ve done some amazing things over the years of which I am personally eternally grateful. IBSA gave me my first opportunity when I became a blind person to compete at the international level. I attended a World Games at which I was a very, very successful swimmer. Thanks to you, IBSA, your membership and your great leadership over the years and your leadership of the future. I wish you every success for the next 40 years and beyond.”
Sunday also featured a celebration of 75 years of goalball. Kari Rasanen, Chair of the IBSA Goalball Committee, gave a talk about the sport that looked back and to the future.
Rasanen provided an overview of goalball and how the competition schedule has evolved over the years, before previewing the coming Paralympic cycle in the lead-up to Paris 2024. This includes the 2022 World Championships in Hangzhou, China, in June, as well as regional Championships and the 2023 IBSA World Games, all of which will be qualifiers for the Paralympics. Rasanen also reflected on how the men’s and women’s game has reached equity over the past decade, including amongst referees.
2023 IBSA World Games
British Blind Sport Chief Executive Alaina MacGregor was joined by Yuri Matischen and John Timms as members of the Local Organising Committee for the 2023 IBSA World Games, to give an update to the Membership on planning and delivery.
MacGregor spoke about the “ambitions and passions” for the Games, being held in Birmingham in August 2023. These included making a positive impact on the lives of blind and partially sighted communities, highlighting the impact and sporting excellence of the athletes and creating a Games which will provide excellent experiences and memories for all those who attend and participate.
The organisers also aspire to make the Games “highly visible” by using social and digital media and live broadcast, as well as using the channels of partners to spread the message of Birmingham 2023.
Other updates came from the IBSA Executive Board and staff members on Sunday. These included a presentation on the IBSA Judo classification research project, and the recently released revised draft Classification Rules for the sport. IBSA Vice-President Robert Fenton, who chairs the implementation committee for the new system, reiterated the changes that will be made and encouraged the membership to get involved in introducing it, and giving feedback on the rules.
Monday will feature the IBSA General Assembly, highlighted by elections for a new Executive Board.