Equestrian Australia has a new Board, a new Chair and soon a new CEO. Exciting times ahead!
Last weekend, the 'old' and the 'new' Board met in the last meeting of the 'old' Board and then joined the seven Branch Chairs (or representatives) for the 2009 Annual General Meeting, when the actual change of the Board's composition took place.
Of the 'retiring' Directors, Chair Mary Seefried and Director Kerry Brydon, both of whom had been on the original non-representational skills-based Board established in 2004, were farewelled and recently-elected Directors Paul Cargill, William (Bill) Fell, Mary-Louise (Mary) Ganter, Robynne McTaggart and Graham Sharley were welcomed.
2009 EA Annual General Meeting
The AGM discussed the Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2009, which showed a deficit of $XX because of the Board's decision to increase assistance to event organisers after the Equine Influenza crisis. I presented a report that put last year's figures into the context of the Federation's history in the last eight to nine years. You can download the draft financial report and an extract of the presentation (2.3MB). I say 'draft' as the final version will come next week together with the Auditors' signatures.
After lunch, the new Board met briefly to elect a new Chair. This honour went to Paul Cargill, former Chairman of the NSW Branch. Natalie Nichols was elected Deputy Chair. Please download and read a message to members from Paul Cargill.
Following this short meeting, the new Board met with the Branch Chairs (or representatives) in a 'Joint Session', a twice-yearly event established with the Governance reforms in 2004. A wide range of subject was discussed, to be followed by a planning session in Werribee on Sunday, 06 December 2009, with the aim of better integrating Branch plans with the National strategy. In the evening, most of the Directors and Branch Chairs met privately for dinner, further developing their understanding of each other.
On Sunday, the new Board met. The main aim of the session was to familiarise the five new Directors with National operations and programs and a more detailed explanation of some of the policy issues. High Performance Manager Brett Mace and National Education Manager Nathan Holman gave presentations of their areas of responsibility and fielded the Directors' questions. All sessions generated a lot of interest and National Office staff were congratulated on their work.
Athlete Director - Call for Nominations
Talking about Board matters: In 2008, the Board amended the Membership & Committee By-Laws to allow the formation of an Athletes' Commission consisting of the athlete/rider representatives on the various Sport Committees. One of the Olympic Discipline reps was then to be appointed to the National Board, making Equestrian Australia consistent with AOC, IOC and FEI practice. After that appointment, the Commission was to have its first meeting.
The Olympic Discipline representatives were, due to other commitments, not available for appointment and the By-Laws had to be changed, after gaining agreement from the AOC, to allow for another way of appointing an Athlete Director. You can download the relevant provisions.
Since the review of the EA Constitution was in progress at the time but since it is now approved and uncertainties no longer exist, we can call for nominations for the position of Athlete Director. This person would first be appointed to the Athlestes' Commission and, once a member, be appointed to the Board.
Candidates must be from one of the Olympic Disciplines of Dressage, Eventing or Jumping and fulfill the following criteria:
"Athlete" means a person who:
(a) is an active athlete in that he or she (i) is currently competing, or (ii) within the previous 12 years of being elected or appointed to the Commission, has competed, in the Sport at a national or international level;
(b) is over the age of 18 years; and
(c) has not been sanctioned for an athlete or horse doping offence during their Sport career.
If you fit the criteria and are prepared to take on the responsibilities of a Director of Equestrian Australia, please complete the nomination form and résumé template and send it to the National Office.
Please make sure that apart from the extract of the Membership & Committee By-Laws, you have read a selection of documents relevant to being appointed as a Director, like the Board Charter and the old and the new constitution and the complete Membership and Committee By-Laws.
Ton de Ridder Clinics
Renowned German Dressage Coach Ton de Ridder visited Australia to give a number of closed High Performance clinics, one of these at SIEC. Ton had not been back to the site of the Olympic events since the Sydney 2000 Games, when his wife Alexandra was part of the gold-medal-winning German team. Ton was impressed with the state the Centre is in, with manicured lawns and fully-grown trees.
On this initial visit, Ton was also rather frank with participating riders, giving honest assessments of horse and rider strengths and weaknesses. This is the main reason why these clinics were not open to the public (or the press), a decision supported by the riders.
2012 Olympic Qualification System
The FEI has published drafts of the new qualification systems for the 2012 Olympic Games. We have concerns about the proposals for Dressage and Jumping, for differing reasons, and have written to the FEI making our case. Fellow Group VIII/Olympic Group G member countries have done the same. We hope that the improvements suggested by us will be reflected in these procodures by the time of the General Assembly.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand CEO Jim Ellis (2nd from right) and High Performance Manager Warrick Allan (1st left) had talks in the EA National Office over two days this week. Topics for discussion included a new Trans-Tasman competition schedule, better coordination of the event calendar (sorely needed also at the National level), Olympic qualification systems and a range of other matters of common interest.
I may not have noticed but I hope the two Kiwis were not here on a recruiting mission. Their last acquisition from the EA National Office, Siobhan Lapthorne, is apparently doing great things in the coaching field across the ditch.
This year's Assembly will take place in Copenhagen. It will be the 11th I have attended (5 with SOCOG and 6 as EFA/EA Secretary General) and the first for our new Chairman Paul Cargill, so there will be a lot of introducing to do. With my memory, I hope the ID tags have delegates' names in large writing ....
The order of business will be different on this occasion. The Extraordinary General Assembly dealing with FEI Statutes has been brought forward by two days so that a new Board can be elected if the new Statutes are passed. The revised Statutes were out for comment from the National Federations and I am pleased to see that almost all of my recommendations are reflected in the latest version that will go to the vote.
Maybe 'elected' is the wrong word in relation to the new Board, when the Nominations Committee has put forward 5 names (all male) for 5 vacancies. I had expected a further call for nominations or possibly some nominations from the President, including a female, but this did not happen. On the other hand, doing it this way will ensure that no-one is going to be 'not elected'.
The introduction of a 'Board' will mean a huge change from a Bureau of 17 and its 'representational' membership. The President, HRH Princess Haya, will be chairing the new Board and the Athlete Director Lee Pearson (GBR Paralympic Gold medallist) will make it a Board of seven.
Anti-Doping and Controlled Medications Rules
Apart from the Governance changes in the Statutes, the new horse swabbing rules will be another major topic for the Assembly. It was good to see that most of our suggested changes to the draft have now been incorporated. Our National Medication Control Officer Dr Warwick Vale did the first analysis and our FEI Contact vet Dr. Derek Major (now NSW Chairman) added further comments. We will adopt the new Rules as soon as we can 'adapt' them and convert the wording into more intelligible English. I am used to reading fairly complex documents but found this hard going. I trust the FEI will publish a 'plain English version' AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Otherwise, I am afraid, the majority of participants will not be ale to understand the new Rules.
In brief, the new rules will clearly separate 'doping' offences from 'medication' offences in one rule book with two 'chapters', with separate lists of substances and different levels of sanctions and penalties. Stay tuned for further updates.
As we speak, the Horseland Australian Dressage Championships are in progress, with the first-ever press conference and communications session after the Grand Prix. For details of upcoming events - and there are a few - please check the calendar on the National web or your local Branch web. I should, however, mention the Australian International 3-Day Event in Adelaide, taking place 13-15 November 2009. Please make your way there and experience the only 4-star Three-Day Event in the Southern Hemisphere, this time with the added attraction of the Trans-Tasman competition.
Supporters and Sponsors
Before I close, though, I would like to thank our funding agencies, sponsors and supporters for their continued assistance. The Australian Sports Commission is our Principal Sponsor and we hope that High Performance funding and other grants will continue beyond the next funding cycle.
Many thanks also to the Australian Olympic Committee, who apart from organising the Australian Delegation to go to the Games is also involved in securing more funding to guarantee Australia's medal success at future Games.
We are also looking forward to a continued good working relationship with the Australian Paralympic Committee in the management of the Para-Equestrian high performance program.
We hope our partnerships with our commercial sponsors can be strengthened further in the next Olympiad.
So in summary, we would like to mention
For more news and other information, please visit our 'new' web www.equestrian.org.au or your 'new' State Branch web (www.[state].equestrian.org.au).
Make it a good day!
Chief Executive Officer