The two candidates for President of Rowing Ireland outlined their policy positions. Here they are in full:
Michael (Mick) O Callaghan, rowing supporter & candidate for President
I joined Shandon Boat Club on the Marina, Cork as a Junior rower in 1963 and was honoured to be elected as a Life Member in 1989. I enjoyed my time as a rower, committee member, Secretary, Captain and coach of this great club. When the Irish Amateur Rowing Union decided to establish the National Rowing and Community Resource Centre in Farran Woods, FISA advised it would be essential to have a local rowing club attached to the centre to ensure the success of the development. As there was no rowing club in the Mid-Cork area, I agreed to take on this task. With the support of the local Community, Lee Valley Rowing Club was established, and the club has indeed proved that FISA were correct.
With the experience gained in the various roles in both clubs and other committees, I have gained a good knowledge of how to lead a successful NGB of Sport. I was honoured to be elected as provincial representative and vice-president on the Rowing Ireland Board. During my term on the Board, I played a significant role in a decision that has had a major impact on the sport, the developing the National Rowing Centre. When the Irish Sports Council was established the Minister for Sport appointed me to the High Performance sub-committee as one of two representatives from HP sports. This committee played a major role in establishing the criteria for funding of High Performance Sport and the Athlete Carding Scheme.
I have coached and managed with success at club and international level and have been Chairperson of the Championships, Home International and Coupe organising committee I have a clear understanding of the supports required to ensure that our sport continues to develop at all levels.
Like all sports rowing has made progress in the recent past with Government support through Sport Ireland. Targeted support for specific programmes like coach education, women in sport, child protection, etc. have been excellent. Rowing Ireland administration and High Performance staff has been professionalised and while this is a welcome development, volunteers have been almost totally excluded. This and the proposals to reduce the influence of the clubs on decision making has resulted in a lowering of morale, a disconnect with the clubs and a reluctance of members to volunteer for rowing events and other committees. This oversight will have an adverse effect on the sport in the future.
For 120 years, Rowing Ireland has been governed excellently by a Board chaired by the President elected by the affiliated rowing clubs. Every President elected was a real rowing person who could relate to the needs of our clubs. This has meant that transparency, accountability and consultation has always been to the fore. If elected as President, I guarantee this long tradition will continue.
Mick O Callaghan
Neville Maxwell – Candidate for President of Rowing Ireland
I am writing to you to ask for your club’s support and vote in the upcoming election for President of Rowing Ireland. In what follows I will outline my background in the sport and present my future strategy as President of Rowing Ireland which will be built on inclusion, collaboration and teamwork.
Born and raised in Galway, rowing has always been in my family, and I have been involved in the world of rowing from a young age.
i competed as a rower for St Joseph’s RC, UCG, and Neptune Rowing Club, winning 23 Irish Championships. I competed internationally for Ireland at Home International, Junior, and Senior World Championship levels, winning 2 silver and 2 bronze medals in the LWT Men’s 2-. Without doubt, the pinnacle of my career was the opportunity to compete at two Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000, while rowing in the LWT men’s 4-. I owe so much to my club coaches, crewmates, and the volunteers who supported us for the successes achieved in my rowing career. Whenever I reflect on these experiences, it is clear our success was built upon a solid foundation of collaboration and teamwork.
Professionally I have worked with New Ireland Assurance for over 20 years in various roles, and now I have responsibility for the distribution of our National Pension Master Trust. I have been a volunteer board member of Rowing Ireland since 2016, when I was co-opted on as an independent director before moving to the role of Connaught representative. I was brought onto the board due to my knowledge of high-performance rowing and my experiences of working in business, to lead the review of our then HP system. I used such experience in business management and my understanding of our sport to create a working group that undertook this review. Through speaking with athletes, coaches, and clubs, we oversaw the creation of a sustainable HP Team structure that is now producing results previously only dreamt of.
Every club and rower across this country has contributed to the success Irish rowing has become in the last few years and long may it continue. The benefits of the structure are something I am immensely proud of, and I hope that same sense of pride is felt in your own club as well. I stepped down as chair in 2021 after four fulfilling years in this role and I believe now is the time to use my experience, knowledge, and passion for our sport to support every single one of our rowing clubs.
Clubs – The Backbone of Rowing in Ireland
The strengths of our clubs are clear to all, but that is not to say there are no more obstacles to overcome. The biggest of these being how to reconnect and support one another in a post–Covid landscape. Clubs are the lifeblood and foundation of our sport. Club membership is growing across flatwater and coastal rowing, junior to senior, and masters to recreational rowing. Our clubs are held together by volunteers who selflessly dedicate their time to creating a safe and fun environment for us all to participate, and I believe it is essential that we as Rowing Ireland work together to provide support and assistance when needed. I will ensure that we are all working collectively and support one another to underpin the great work being done by all our clubs in the North and South, the East and West. The pandemic prevented many of us from getting out onto the water and interacting with our communities, so I believe now is the time to properly reconnect with and rediscover our shared passion for rowing.
I am dedicated to serving you and making your clubs and community strong by leading and creating a forward-looking strategy that is shaped by our clubs, committees, branches, staff, and board. This strategy must take the successful policies and directives currently implemented in some areas of our sport and recreate them in areas previously neglected. This must be done in all spheres of our sport:
- Coaching and Volunteers – Facilitate the sharing of best practice across our clubs and national team
- Income Generation for clubs – Create sustainable business plans for our clubs to thrive.
- Events and Domestic Calendar –Shape it to our needs and create a calendar that suits all the provinces.
- Facilities and Equipment–Ensure Government grants and supports are maintained to assist all our clubs, along with a subsidised equipment purchase scheme for all clubs.
- Safety – Ensuring all our members participate in a safe sporting environment.
To deliver a coherent plan it is key that we work together as a collective to achieve our goals on and off the water. This can only be done through open and honest dialogue that involves all of us.
Commercial and Developmental Relationships
We are currently in the perfect place to attract investment into the sport. This has been created through the recognition of rowing as not only our top performing Olympic sport, but also as a sport that enhances and betters our communities. We have established key relationships with various government and commercial partners, and as President I will build on these relationships initiated by past presidents to ensure that funding goes directly to clubs. Growth and development of rowing at the grassroots level that is pursued with your needs in mind can only benefit the sports overall progression and evolution.
The main thing to know about me for those of you I have not yet met is that I have rowing in my heart. I want to take on the role of president for the single goal of improving the sport that I love. We can only be successful by listening and taking each other’s opinions on board, by remaining open to communication and by keeping connected.
I can assure you that I will work tirelessly with high energy and total commitment to our sport and to you, our clubs. I am running for this position solely to support you and make all levels and areas of our sport great.
I will be a leader for all clubs and provinces.
Yours in rowing,
Neville Maxwell – Neptune Rowing Club