Update: EDBF Extraordinary General Assembly in Tallinn
The EDBF held an Extraordinary General Assembly in Tallinn, Estonia over the weekend of 21-23 November. The aims of this meeting were threefold: 1. to elect new officers to the Board, 2. to vote in proposals raised by members in the Annual General Assembly meeting held in conjunction with the European Nations Championship in Racice this past summer, and 3. to discuss issues related to championships.
Representatives from the following countries attended the meeting: Belorussia, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Unfortunately, no representatives were sent from some of the countries which always send paddlers (or officials) to the championships, even though subsidies were made available to assist with transport and lodging costs: Czech Republic, Great Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia among others were not represented. Because there were not enough members present to make voting possible according to the rules of the Federation, we could, very unfortunately, not officially vote in any new policies.
While this is very disappointing since the EDBF is run as a democratic organization made up of dragon boat paddlers, serving dragon boat paddlers, we did not wish to waste this opportunity to meet and move forward with some important issues which have come up time after time as needing attention.
Statutes & By-laws
One of the issues that was very badly in need of addressing was an update to the Statutes and By-laws of the Federation. Running a business or organization is difficult, complex work, but running an organization staffed by volunteers spread throughout Europe is even more complex. While putting down on paper how this organization should run is very time-consuming, bureaucratic work, it is necessary to make sure that the rules that govern how the Federation works are relevant and fair: dragon boat has changed and grown tremendously in Europe (and the world) since the last time the governing rules were updated in 2005 and the EDBF regulations need to be updated to reflect those changes. Claudio Schermi, Senior Vice Chair, has drafted a new version of the Statutes and By-laws based on changes recently made to the IDBF Statutes and By-laws but because this document affects all European dragon boat paddlers it is necessary to get feedback from those paddlers: in other words, is this the way you want the EDBF to do business on your behalf?
A copy of those revisions will soon be sent around to representatives from all dragon boat federations in Europe for them to read and comment on. The deadline for comments will be 15 January. This will give some time for us to revise the proposed new guidelines and prepare a final version of the Statutes and By-Laws to be voted on at the Annual General Assembly in July in Budapest. A few important changes include:
- Re-defining the roles of President and Chairman - in essence the title "Chairman" will disappear to be replaced by the title "President" who will carry out similar duties to the chairman. The old President role will now largely become a ceremonial and advisory position of Honorary President.
- Revising the rules for voting quorums - in the past a certain percentage of full members was required to make voting valid. This was to ensure that the business of the Federation was being done democratically and to ensure that no one nation or voting block put its interests before the best interests of all paddlers. It was a great idea in theory, but in practice it has turned out to make governing the Federation difficult and unworkable. Simply said, many members were not coming to EDBF meetings so we couldn´t vote on changes that other members wanted us to implement. In order to make governing the EDBF simpler, the new Statutes & By-laws call for a simple majority to vote on proposals which are brought to the EDBF Assembly. Instead of having a minimum percentage of members present to vote, a simple majority vote of "yes" or "no" on an issue will suffice to pass rules and policies within the EDBF. The positive effect of this change is that it will make it easier for the EDBF to do business, the negative effect of this change is that even if there are only two representatives out of the 33 nations in the EDBF present, those two representatives will determine how the Federation will be run, so it is very necessary for all nations to send a representative to the EDBF AGA meetings if they want their voice to be heard and to count!
- Definition of a member of the EDBF - this will largely focus on those who pay their membership fee. If a country´s federation wants to be part of the EDBF, they have to notify the EDBF on an annual basis that they want to be a member and pay their EDBF registration in full. Part of this is because the EDBF needs some money to do its business and one of the ways to continue to provide services to its members (such as organizing championships and pursuing IOC membership) is to have its members pay a reasonable fee to the EDBF each year to cover some of its operating costs. So, if your country wants to participate in EDBF championships, for instance, it has to pay a membership fee to join (or stay in) the EDBF each year. The membership fee has recently been reduced from 250 euro per year to 150 euro per year, so you can see that the EDBF is doing everything possible to make it easy and affordable to partake of the Federation´s services.
Since we did not have enough representation to vote on issues, we tried to make the best use of the time and opportunity to discuss some needed improvements to EDBF championships and finances, so we inventoried the problems we wanted to try to solve and broke into working groups to come up with solutions to those problems. Four working groups were formed:
- Finances - which examined membership fees, EDBF paddler registration fees, regatta fees and sponsorship
- Technical - which examined racing classes and changes to the age classes, implications of small & standard boat racing, quality of championships, special continental- rules
- Marketing - which discussed ways to make the sport more attractive to sponsors and spectators such as more regional cooperation in races, having WiFi at races, improving the cooperation with Belief Sport to make accessing specific race videos easier, establishing a "finder´s fee" to make finding sponsors more attractive, establishing new race categories
- Administration - looked at stimulating new race organizers, information bulletin deadlines, deadlines for receiving entry fees and increasing regatta fees
There were some concrete proposals that came from these working groups that will be brought into voting at the upcoming AGA in July. Once the Secretary General has received copies of all the working groups´ proposals she will circulate those for the federations to look at and discuss prior to voting.
Unfortunately, one important item of business could not be taken care of because of the lack of a voting quorum: electing (new) officers to the EDBF Board. For the time being, the current officers will continue in their positions (President: Mike Haslam; Chairman: Alan van Caubergh; Senior Vice Chairman: Claudio Schermi; Second Vice Chairman: vacant; Secretary General: Kim Beckwith; Treasurer: Natalia Kravtsova; Members´ Representative: Sue Menzies). On the one hand, this is unfortunate because it may be that our members would like different representation in the Board but on the other hand, keeping the current Board in place has two advantages: the revisions to the Statutes and By-Laws include some changes to the Board structure, so it would make sense to first approve (or amend) changes to the Statutes and By-Laws before voting on the updated Board positions; and the current Board has a lot of knowledge about the Federation needed to keep it working for now while the membership considers changes to the Statutes and By-laws.
Pay to Play
In addition to these issues, the Treasurer reported on the EDBF Finances and one message was clear - Federations need to pay their annual registration fees! If they don´t pay, their members won´t be allowed to compete in EDBF Championships.
2015 European Club Crew Championship
Although a quorum was required to accept Hungary´s bid for the European Club Crew Championship in 2015, an executive decision was made to confirm that the championship will be granted to Hungary. It was felt that it was in the best interests of the paddlers and the championship organizer that the bid must be confirmed with or without an official quorum and information should go out to paddlers asap. We look forward to seeing you in Budapest in July. The dates are still unconfirmed, but it looks like the championship will take place either the first or second weekend of July. Keep your eyes on the EDBF website and Facebook pages for more updates.
We briefly discussed future championship locations: 2016 Italy in Ravenna or Genoa (Estonia was also interested but the Board felt it was best if Estonia hosts a local championship first to try out the proposed course and correct any shortcomings before hosting a large European championship), 2017 Estonia (Ukraine was interested, but has withdrawn due to the unstable situation in the country), 2018 France. Other bids are being solicited for 2017 and beyond - we would like to have some choices each year so that we can give paddlers the best experience for their money.
We also were treated to a virtual trip to sunny Murcia, Spain when Jose Carillo showed us the facilities and programs available in Spain for early-spring training camps. And of course, since we were in snowy Tallinn, a bit of cold, fresh air was on the menu as well when we toured a future championship location with our host Roman Vernkoff of the Estonian Dragon Boat Federation.
Although it was very regrettable that the EDBF Extraordinary General Assembly could not act on issues submitted for voting, the members who attended did their best to make it a productive and worthwhile meeting. Keep your eyes open for important bulletins regarding the championships, the updates to Statutes and By-Laws, calls for voting and calls for nominations to the Board. While November starts to mark the end of the old year, it was also a kickoff for the upcoming year and the huge amount of business the Federation has to get done.