EDSO Members seek Vote of No Confidence at Congress

Ahead of today’s European Deaf Sport Organisation Congress, former General Secretary shared an open letter and vlog to explain the situation about his dismissal and concerns of poor leadership.

VIDEO INTRO:

A brief explanation of this article

Today, Saturday 10 July 2021, at the European Deaf Sport Organisation (EDSO) online Congress, one of its national members, UK Deaf Sport will table a motion of no confidence in the EDSO Board. The reason for this relates to the unexplained reasons for the 2019 abrupt dismissal of Philip Gerrard, a Vice President of UK Deaf Sport who, at the time was the EDSO Secretary General – In 2018, he was overwhelmingly voted in by the EDSO membership on his popular manifesto to help EDSO modernise and reform.

Gerrard has asked Two Big Ears to publish his IS vlog here for the benefit of the whole European Deaf Community as a matter of public interest. The vlog will be uncomfortable viewing for members of the EDSO Board because its is a frank account of concerns:

VIDEO FROM P. GERRARD:

Philip Gerrard Explains reason behind the vote of no confidence. This vlog is in International Sign

During his tenure, Gerrard kept his word to support EDSO by following up on his promises, he identified the following challenges facing the EDSO Board:

  1. Lack of strategic thinking presented and reported on to member countries at meetings and in-between.
  2. Lack of opportunities and encouragement for women to join the EDSO Board.
  3. Lack of robust and transparent financial processes which led to the closure of the EDSO bank account.

After Gerrard was dismissed, UK Deaf Sport and other countries were expecting to see an improvement or changes made to the organisational issues that were raised. But since nothing has happened, the motion to make a vote of no confidence has been submitted.

Considering the amount of time that has passed since his dismissal, Gerrard has written an email and a vlog for the EDSO members to read to ensure that they fully understand the reasons for the vote of no confidence. Gerrard has also asked Two Big Ears to publish both the vlog and the messages here so that the grassroots membership in deaf sports clubs as well as the Deaf community in European nations have full access to what is going on.

As we publish this post, we understand that other nations have pledged their support to vote for this. In addition to explaining the reasons for the vote of no confidence, the motion also puts forwards recommendations that:

  1. All EDSO members deliver a vote of no confidence and ask for an independent review into the reasons for the dismissal of Philip Gerrard as EDSO Secretary General and;
  2. That the EDSO Board engage with its members to ensure that national representatives can fully access future EDSO meetings and events.

When we were approached by Philip Gerrard, we asked him why he wanted to go public. His explanation was straight to the point: “To give members the opportunity to seek reform with EDSO.”

Ahead of todays EDSO congress, UK Deaf Sport has sent in a message of support to Gerrard’s email and expressed their concerns “We are disappointed with the expereince our UK Deaf Sport International Relations ambassador has had, and look forward to seeing steps taken by EDSO to ensure greater commitment towards gender equity and good governance which is something we strongly believe in.

UK Deaf Sport will be represented at the Congress by Gordon Hay, from the UKDS International Relations Group and Valerie Copenhagen, UKDS Executive Director. They will also table a second motion that EDSO meetings (online and face to face) must modernise and be delivered with captions in English alongside International Signs. Readers will ask “Why English?” In line with international protocol, English is the official language of communications for official EDSO business and this is stated in the EDSO constitution.

A Tribute to Professor Margaret Talbot OBE PhD, FRSA

Today at 7:55am, Deaf sport lost one of its greatest supporters, Professor Margaret Talbot.

Margaret Talbot

I am greatly indebted to Margaret, as I, like countless others, can count her as one of my loyal friends and a great professional mentor. She never wanted anything in return, always happy to share her thoughts and offer insight when things were going well or falling apart. I treated her counsel with care because her time and support was something special and valuable, not to be abused.

I first met Margaret when I was 19 years old, working at Friends for Young Deaf people in the early 1980s, she took a great interest in our sport and development work with young deaf and hearing people – at that time, we were pioneering Deaf people’s involvement in the CCPR Community Sports Leaders Award and it was through her inspiration as CEO of the Association of Physical Education UK that contributed towards my decision to get into PE teaching.

Later, when she was CEO at the Central Council for Physical Recreation, she encouraged me to speak publicly at meetings and conferences about Deaf sport and challenge her peers and political decision makers to think about how National Governing Bodies of sport and education could be more inclusive and equitable.

When I came to write “Same Spirit Different Team – The Politicisation of the Deaflympics. Margaret was there to offer guidance, even offering the time to read drafts and suggest changes. It did not matter that she held high office in the world of sport and acted as consultant to the United Nations, she never forgot those of us at the chalk-face, in the classrooms, on the sports fields; we were her equals, no matter what.

I hold a deep sense of gratitude to Professor Talbot and cherish every word she wrote in her Foreword for my book. Those of us, who had the privilege to know her, will remember her as someone who knew how to challenge ignorance and bigotry in a way that allowed people not to lose face, a rare talent indeed.

Happy Travels my Friend.

Celebrating Women in Deaf Sport

The Twittersphere is a crowded place today with every opportunity to tweet the celebration of International Women’s Day.

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Here in the UK, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation has launched its “Say Yes to Success” campaign to drive more commercial and media investment and attention to women’s sport. They plan to achieve this through investment and coverage of as many high quality events and competitions as possible.

According to WSFF, women’s sport only receives 0.4% of the total commercial investment in sport and only gets 7% of sports coverage by the media.

Today I am celebrating women in Deaf sport. I want to do this because I am concerned about the lack of deaf women taking up strategic roles in sport. UK Deaf Sport is currently recruiting for new Board members and we are very impressed with the high calibre of applications that we have attracted and we hope to be making some announcements later in the year. However, we need more women to apply for a place to help us go forwards.

Personally I don’t think we are communicating publicly how important women are to UKDS, perhaps people think we already have this sorted ? Maybe there is a lack of inspiration ? or there is a resignation that it remains a male dominated institution and it will be difficult to make an impact?

UK Deaf Sport has, up until now, always had women on its board of trustees, but both remaining women have tendered their resignations this year and we will not have replacements on the board at our AGM on 26th March.

I cannot stress how important it is that we have women represented at board level. There is so much that needs to be done and we need inspirational leaders to come and help us achieve our ambitions.

Did you know that at the first Deaflympics in Paris, 1924, there was only one woman competing. The pioneer of women was Hendrika Nicoline Van der Heyden (NED) who competed alone in the 100m backstroke swimming. According to Same Spirit Different Team  “Her event is probably, the first and only ‘walkover’ in the history of the Deaflympics.”

IMG_0533In the 2013 Summer Deaflympics, the majority of medal winners in the GB team were women. Athletic’s Melanie Hewitt, Lauren Peffers and the GB Womens Football team. The team was inspired by a charismatic Chef de Mission Fiona Brookes who was at the forefront from the moment she took on the role.

The CISS (Committee International Sports des Sourds) was the first international sports organisation to appoint a women, Maria de Bendeguz (VEN)  onto its Executive Committee in Koln 1981.

Donalda Ammons followed next as CISS Secretary General in 1997 and then succeeded John Lovett as President in 2005 and served until 2009 as she celebrated what was the most successful Deaflympic Games in terms of commercial and media coverage to date when the City of Taipei invested $200m of which $4.34m came from commercial sponsors and vastly increased media coverage which saw attendances rise from 12,00 in Melbourne 2005 to 278,884 in Taipei.

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Emile Sheng, CEO of the Taipei DOC said that the real ‘gold’ in staging the Deaflympics was not in the number of medals generated by the national Chinese Taipei team or the financial profit generated but by the raising of Taiwanese international profile, initiating a regeneration of Taipei City and, for the countries leading businesses, showcasing their products and services. Tony Phoo, an economist with Standard Chartered bank Taiwan PLC, observed:

Taiwan has long been seen primarily as a supplier of electronics components. This will change after the nations socio-economic development is displayed for all to see. (Brisebois 2009, p60 Same Spirit Different Team 2014)

The UK Deaf Table Tennis Association, this week has appointed Sereena Gilmour as its Chairperson. She is the mother of Deaflympian Nick Gilmour and the wife of the late John Gilmour who the UKDTTA owe a great debt to for his dedication and hard work.

IMG_1138Swimmer Danielle Joyce is currently enjoying sporting success breaking 3 world records at the EFDS National Juniors last week and destined to go further.

Like the WSFF, we need more media coverage of the Deaflympics. Same Spirit Different Team explains in detail how in 2001 the IOC contributed US$9m for the promotion of the 2008  Paralympics and US$14m for the 2010 and 2012 events but only 150,000 swiss francs for the Deaflympics to cover 2005-2009. The book suggests a plan of action.