Long-term strategy development in sport was the central theme of a major conference hosted by the International Rugby Board in Dublin last week.
The three-day Sports Federation Management Programme was attended by members of Rugby federations from around the world, as well as other sporting bodies, such as Ontario Alpine and SnowSport England.
The programme aims to provide practical business models that can be used by managers and administrators in their sport-specific job functions on completion of the programme. It is specifically targeted for senior sport administrators and managers of national and international sports federations.
Participants worked on key planning documents that are often essential for funding requirements in order to give them a competitive advantage when in discussion with funding bodies such as international federations and governments, with a focus on strategic planning and governance.
"This year's programme went exceptionally well and the interaction between participants really flourished," said programme lead Steve Griffiths, the IRB's Head of Technical Services.
"We used case studies during presentations and the participants engaged really well, demonstrating learning from the programme. What we've worked on throughout the programme is totally practical for use in the various federations."
The programme was especially beneficial for smaller Member Unions. Juan José Chacón Quirós travelled to Dublin from Costa Rica where he is President of the Costa Rican Rugby Union.
"We learned that our issues are similar to other sports. It's good to see that, because you always tend to think that situations in Rugby are particular just to the Game itself, but in fact a lot of it comes down to management issues that are the same in other sports," said Chacón Quirós.
"We've also benefitted from talking about financial issues. Costa Rica is a small Union and basically we have to do everything ourselves, so the highlight for us has particularly been the knowledge we've gained from learning more about sponsorship and financial management."
"I will definitely tell my colleagues in other sporting federations in Costa Rica that they should think about coming (to the conference) in future years. It's been so helpful to me."
The programme covered topical areas with practical, informative and participative sessions. They focused on:
• Strategic planning for sports organisations
• Managing strategic change
• Financial management
• Risk management
• Human resource management
• Sponsorship and partner relationships
Participants agreed that the programme will help their federations to develop more competitive plans for investment. They also said that knowledge gained will help their future investment plans, will be more professional and fit with their strategic agenda.
The IRB has long recognised the need to provide educational opportunities for stakeholders involved in sport and have found in the World Academy of Sport a delivery partner that meets the needs of sports administrators, managers and leaders. The World Academy of Sport is partner to a number of international federations and works with the IRB through the IRB Administrators' Academy.
The programmes are tailored to the needs of the Unions of the IRB and other sporting federations. The aim is to deliver programmes in a number of key functional areas of sport and major events targeted to provide the necessary business foundation for administrators to be effective.
The programme also helps to facilitate networking and sharing of ideas, among leaders of the rugby community, as well as providing opportunities to work through sport and events-driven case studies with industry experts.
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