IWGA ATHLETES’ COMMITTEE: MAKING THE ATHLETE’S VOICE HEARD
At its board meeting in January, the board of the International World Games Association (IWGA) agreed on the composition of the Interim IWGA Athletes’ Committee. As already announced, the Chair of this committee will be the Spanish karateka Sandra Sanchez.
The six other members of this committee are Cat Phillips from Australia (Flying Disc), Andrés Acuña from Costa Rica (Racquetball), the Swiss Floorball player Matthias Hofbauer, the Indian archer Abhishek Verma, Justyna Możdżonek from Poland (DanceSport) and the Canadian Powerlifter Rhaea Stinn. Board member Jan Fransoo will represent the IWGA Executive Committee on this panel and thus be the counterpart for the athletes. In the IWGA Office the committee will be supported by Guillaume Felli. The decision to form an Athletes’ Committee was communicated to the IWGA members at the Annual General Meeting in 2022.
Jan Fransoo explains the next steps: “The current IWGA Athletes’ Committee has an interim status until September 2025. By that time, an Athletes’ Committee will have been elected by the athletes of the next edition of The World Games. The 12th edition will take place in Chengdu, China. The main task over the next two-and-a-half years will be to prepare for the installation of this Athletes’ Committee, including the process of election, future powers, composition, and associated regulatory changes. The focus of our efforts will be on the regulations for the transformation of the provisional committee into a standard institution of the IWGA.”
Sandra Sanchez, who attended the IWGA board meeting in January in Madrid as a guest at the invitation of IWGA President José Perurena, says that she is aware of the responsibility. “The committee will make the athletes’ voice and assessment heard, and influence the IWGA’s decisions for the benefit of the participants in the Games. I feel very honoured to be able to lead the committee after finishing my active career in sport, and I’m looking forward to this new task,” says the winner at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA and 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland. She was Olympic champion at the 2021 Games in Tokyo.
One of the first tasks will be to convene a first official meeting with all members of the committee before the summer of this year. At this meeting they will also agree on their further course of action. The members will work on the rules of procedure.
José Perurena explained: “One of our basic principles is that we put the athletes and their needs at the centre. The establishment of this Interim Athletes’ Committee is another step on the way to putting this principle into practice. We are thus following the guidelines we set ourselves in the strategy paper ‘Growth Beyond Excellence’.” The 39 IWGA member federations decided to set up this provisional committee at last year’s Annual General Meeting.
Jan Fransoo explains how the current members were nominated: “We communicated with our Federations and asked them to provide us with suitable candidates. Gender equality was important to us in this process. In addition, the athlete representatives should come from all over the world and clearly show the diversity of the sport within The World Games family. Above all we asked for confident and experienced athletes. Their informed opinion carries weight in the further development of our event. We are convinced the current composition meets these expectations. I am very much looking forward to the cooperation that is about to begin.”