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President’s Blog: One year on

Date: July 1, 2024

Category: General

It has been exactly one year since the current IBSA Board was elected in Fatima, Portugal, on 1 July 2023.

We are 12 months in to a four-year term and so it feels like a good moment to reflect.

As the President, I stood on a platform of reform. I knew that it would not be easy and I could not do it alone, and everything about the last year has proved that to be correct.

But what do I and the other Board members mean by reform?

It has been about beginning to create a completely different spirit in IBSA, one of teamwork and professionalism. Two more important values of transparency and consistency also come to mind.

Let us take a look at what has been done around those values in a bit more detail, and what more needs to be done.

We now have more staff than at any time in IBSA’s history. It has gone from an organisation run by one or two people with the help of volunteers to a growing sport’s body with a team of professionals leading the way in key areas, such as anti-doping, financial management, media and communications and marketing – with more experts being added to complete a long overdue overhaul of IBSA’s approach to classification and governance. This has all been part of the important process of separating governance and management within IBSA.

IBSA President Ilgar Rahimov stands at the lecturn to deliver his speech during the Opening Ceremony of the IBSA World Games in 2023

We held elections to IBSA’s first ever Athletes’ Council, the Chair of which, Iida Kauppila, now sits on the IBSA Executive Board alongside three other former or current athletes – Vice President Joe Walsh and Members at Large Mads Bauland and Zdenek Barlok, further ensuring that the athlete voice is at the heart of decision making.

The Legal and Ethics Committee was revived after a period of inactivity and the Anti-Doping Committee was also refreshed and given an even stronger mandate in ensuring education and compliance are delivered.

As the head of this completely unique organisation, I am not going to say that all of this has been easy, and that we are perfect. It has not and there is still much more work to do. But I believe it has been necessary, and I feel just as strongly that we cannot stop here.

As well as all of these steps, taken to put IBSA on a stronger footing, we are also looking to the future and the potential that this movement has.

An extensive and wide-ranging review that will analyse the fundamentals of what IBSA does and how it operates will begin very soon. This will involve everyone who is part of the current system to ensure we are working in the best possible way for the constituents we serve.

Looking to the IBSA World Games, we have created a pathway to secure hosts into the next decade and have reached out to International Federations to broaden the sport programme.

My hope for the next three years is that Members, athletes, partners, volunteers, colleagues and the wider community have the belief in the mission and continue with us on this journey.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all of those who have helped, given their time and expertise, have been honest and realistic with us about some of the challenges we face, and have been positive that together, we have a bright future.

My door (and inbox) is always open.

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