As we approach the end of 2016, I have mixed feelings. The world has become unpredictable and we have to adjust to the ever changing environment whilst the tempo of that change, seems to be continuously accelerating.
On the one hand we had some highlights, including the two great World Championships – the Indoor in February in The Netherlands, and the Outdoor in September in Sweden with the organisers looking after us extremely well with a very high standard of tug of war. Both events attracted a record number of countries participating which augers well for the future of the tug of war sport. Also these events doubled as qualifiers for the 2017 World Games (WG) end of July 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, which added some “spice” to the competition and extra motivation for the top 6 countries in the 3 events on the WG programme.
We also had a constructive annual congress during April in Belfast where a clear direction was given as to the future development of the sport especially in continents where participation on the highest level is lacking. Some very clear opportunities exist, especially in Asia and Africa which will be explored over the next few years. TWIF also continued to participate actively in the various international sporting bodies with its affiliation via the IWGA and ARISF and continued to prove compliance with the requirements of the IOC and WADA.
On the other hand there were also some low points with the passing away of some of our international stalwarts who have become synonymous with our sport over the last 2-3 decades. Similarly we had to greet ex-President Cathal McKeever who retired due to ill-health.
But, we also have also adopted a new policy plan to guide our activities over the next 4 years. Part of this strategy going forward is to modernise the clothing and equipment of our officials. This will be implemented as from the World Games with all judges and recorders officiating at that event being kitted out in the new gear. We have merged the Technical and Athletes Commissions, into a single Commission and we have a new Executive Committee to take TWIF forward.
We will certainly continue to work hard to achieve our ultimate objective of re-admission to the Olympic programme. This process will be renewed once the host city for the Olympics in 2024 is known.
For now, I wish all members and participants in our sport all the best for the Festive season.