The first Regional SportAccord concluded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after three days of discussion, debate and high-profile networking. More than 100 leading sports – including FootGolf – officials and executives attended the first ever Regional SportAccord, with the overall theme looking at “A United Approach to the International Sport Landscape in the Americas.”
GAISF played an important part in the panel discussions, with GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli talking about sports governance and the role of International Federations (IFs) adapting to change.
“Over the last 30 years in particular, we have seen a massive change in commercial potential and a massive professionalisation of sport.” President Chiulli said.
“One important thing to understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. After all, GAISF’s membership goes from organisations the size of FIFA all the way to those with only a few full-time employees. But it is very important to constantly ask if it is possible to do more.”
GAISF Director Philippe Gueisbuhler also took to the stage during the panel session on the emergence of esports and spoke about the challenges and opportunities for traditional sport.
“This train is already on the move, it is not a question of stopping esports,” Gueisbuhler said. “It is there and will continue to grow, our kids and young people are on board and all we can do is try to bring it in the right direction.
IF leaders were influential throughout the event, speaking on key subjects such as the social responsibility of sports stakeholders, knowledge transfer, safeguarding athletes, rebranding and transforming host cities.
Olympians Willie Banks and Nadia Comaneci also gave the athletes’ perspective on the subjects of anti-doping and athlete protection.
As well as the conference programme, Regional SportAccord also featured an exhibition and specific networking events. The programme finished with workshop on the needs of Pan American National Olympic Committees and how IFs could reach these nations.
Following the event, President Chiulli said:
“I was very happy to see International Federations and sports stakeholders from completely different backgrounds coming together and sharing ideas here in Florida. This is the very foundation of what SportAccord is, and I believe we have seen many bridges built which will help to further the role of sport here in the Americas and around the world.”
Attending for the Federation for International FootGolf was Laura Balestrini, current member of the FIFG Board and FIFG Global Director of Membership, and was also invited Roberto Balestrini, the 4th President of the FIFG.
During the conference, the opportunity was given to the FIFG representatives to meet with Dr. Raffaele Chiulli, the President of GAISF and Phillippe Gueisbuhler, Director of GAISF. A direct meeting with Director Gueisbuhler was scheduled to review and confirm the requirements for the FIFG and particularly, what is needed from its member countries. He responded to all of the questions, shared ideas and provided a series of recommendations to achieve the goals with GAISF.
FIFG has an observer status at GAISF. To reach full membership, the main task – as member countries under the FIFG – will be to meet the requirements of the highests National Sports Authorities or the top Governing Body of Sports in their countries to gain full recognition and certification as an official sport, nationally.
"We left with overwhelming urgency to start the work that is needed, but feel it is an accomplishment we can do if we work together. Each FIFG member will need to gain recognition by the highest sports authority in their country, either from the government or National Olympic Committee. The FIFG will be there to educate the members and walk with them through the process. We are going to work with the presidents of countries who really want to work with us and get it done properly and on time. Otherwise we will be wasting incredibly valuable time that we can't afford or take a chance to fail. It is not too easy but not too late! Either the leadership of our FIFG member countries are 100 percent "in" and we all succeed, or we don't do what needs to be done and FootGolf will continue its path but just as a fun game, not as an official sport. Our main goal for the next two years is to have 40 FIFG members where FootGolf is recognised as an official sport in their country. We can also work and discuss about competitions and all other topics but, this should be the number one priority in each country and as the Director of Membership of the FIFG, I plan to dedicate my attention and efforts to this task. I invite all the presidents of the FIFG member countries to connect with the Board as soon as possible to review their status at national level and decide if they are going to commit and get it done or not." says Laura Balestrini.
Members of the Board of Directors and also volunteers who are familiar with the process, will start to reach out to each member to help them identify this within their country in order to start the process for recognition. "It may not be easy and certainly an intense task from each of us, but the final result is the reason all of us started with FootGolf. Let's work together and help each other reach the dream of full membership of GAISF where FootGolf is recognized as a global sport and then move towards making FootGolf an Olympic sport!" she added.
For more information on SportAccord, please click HERE.