President's annual report: Happy New Rafting Year
It is with great pleasure that I write to all of you and wish you a wonderful 2019.
2018 is getting to an end and we will all carry with us all the memories of this historical year: a year that saw our birth and our steady growth; a year that, beside all successes, is the first step of a new era for rafting.
In a year (not even a year, actually, as we will celebrate our first birthday at the end of January) many things have been achieved: we overcame several difficulties and, even when we made some mistakes, we always acted in good faith.
In these few months,
- we founded a democratic, operational and legally recognised International Sport Federation, a platform where all members are equally important and to which all can (must) contribute;
- 25 national federations were created and/or structured, so that they could be recognised by their respective National Sport Authority, Government or Olympic Committee (with all the related pros) and consequently enter the WRF as full members;
- the judges’ pool was enlarged and structured, as well as the data collection and management system;
- new competition formats were created: RX, RX mixed, World Cup, biennial World Championships, national competition system, international youth training camps, coaches’ seminars;
- the national/international guides system was structured and made operational in many different nations, helping the national WRF members to create a virtuous circle between competitive and commercial activity;
- a Junior and U23 World Championship was organised and successfully delivered: this event was a first timer for many different reasons. Notably, the first event where canoe slalom and rafting happened together and the first time where so many youngsters (120) were at the start of an international rafting event;
- the first para-rafting event was organised, paving the way for a more inclusive and accessible sport;
- the WRF social media and press department grew under the impulse of young and committed people and we can now enjoy a truly global reach;
- important interventions and initiatives for the protection of rivers all over the world were supported and implemented.
All these achievements gave rafting and the WRF a brand new positioning in the international sport world: thanks to the recognition by the International Canoe Federation (ICF, still maintaining a full autonomy) we are now under the direct observation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding with the ICF was the first important step toward a fruitful and friendly cooperation between two organisations that speak the same language: the language of paddlesports.
In a few words, many goals were achieved; others are about to be achieved or are developing quickly. However, much is still to be done and achieved by all of us: we were born with a great team spirit and we must keep growing operating as a team; this is why proactive discussions and critics will always be welcome, as there is no growth without debate.
Next year will be a very important one: we will need to confirm what was already done and improve and correct what must be improved.
World Rafting Championships, World Para-Rafting Championships, World Cups, National Championships, Youth Training Camps will be the most important events happening in 2019.
In addition, the new WRF Training Centre will soon open in Argentière la Bessée, France, thanks to the cooperation with the French Canoe and Kayak Federation.
Finally, 2019 will also see the opening of continental confederations headquarters.
I want to thank all of you (athletes, coaches, officials) that believed in this project and gave and are giving valuable contributions to it.
Special thanks go to:
- National Federation Presidents: I know that for many of you the last months were not easy, as the fear of the unknown often freezes us and it is hard to change our habits so quickly.
The past is part of our background and we can only look at a bright future if we look at the past with a positive attitude. Passion drove our first steps, and passion must always drive us toward the achievement of positive results. Polemics for the sake of polemics are not part of our DNA: we are proud of what we are achieving with the goal of giving a bright future to our sport and to our athletes.
- “my” Board, that contributed wholeheartedly to the WRF development and always put the collective interest ahead of their personal or national interest.
- the “small” rafting nations, that represent our added value and gave our sport a truly universal dimension and demonstrated that rafting really is a sport for all.
- the heads and the main members of all commissions: Oleksandr, Stefan, Zdeslav, Xavier, Huenchuleo, Francesco F., Francesco C, Nikita, Pavlina, Claudia, Caterina, Misha, Max M., Murat and all others led by a great Secretary General, Matteo, the heart and soul of WRF!
- the ICF, the ICF President, Mr. Javier Perurena Lopez, and the ICF Board and staff. They all welcomed us in Budapest (at the ICF Congress) as if we were life-long partners and are working with us on common projects that will ensure a bright common future.
- Mr. Ivo Ferriani, a great friend of rafting and of sports. He is the one that first believed in our potential and made it possible for us to pursue our goals and dreams.
- all our young rafters that are proving to be the real WRF asset.
I wish you all the best for a great 2019! Your friend,