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Establishing good governance practices in our sector: We have a small window of opportunity - it's time to take it!

Following the conclusion of the two-year Good Governance in Grassroots Sport project led by ISCA, three of the project’s experts, Darren Bailey from the EU Expert Group on Good Governance in Sport, Sylvia Schenk from Transparency International Germany and Mikkel Larsen from the Sport and Recreation Alliance UK, gave a short and practical summary on implementing and achieving good governance.


Good governance is not something that is new. The private sector has developed and has had regulations imposed on it to ensure it implements and demonstrates good governance. And in many ways the sport for all sector is ‘behind the game’ when it comes to governance practices.


But sports organisations cannot simply follow the path of industry, they need to find their own standards and set their own criteria to ensure that organisations are set up and run in a way which promotes trust, equality and openness.


From this, minimum standards can develop for the sector and can legitimately be bought into and adapted to the needs of each organisation. Mikkel Larsen argues that the best model for the sector was the ‘comply and explain’ model. It is one which gives freedom for organisations to make choices and to explain their rational for including or not. It is a model which builds ownership and a sustainable culture. To support this, there are a number of resources developed to support the development of good governance principles for organisations including training for leaders and downloadable toolkits.


The self-imposed style of governance is something that was supported by both Schenk and Bailey, who were keen to point out what it can’t be: “Good Governance can’t be about putting a bigger burden on sport deliverers, it can be about 400-page rule book and meeting every night. It needs come from within the organisation and be a culture that is lived and breathed on a daily basis.”


But while this is the ideal, the time to act is now. From funding organisations to governments to the EU, there is increasing pressure on demonstrating democracy, transparency and accountability; the key pillars of good governance. There is a short window of time to get it right before it no longer becomes an option and is something that is imposed.


“Good governance is not superfluous to sports organisations just because they are doing ‘good’ for society. If anything is it more important that the money invested in the sector for the benefit of society is spent with accountability. It (good governance) is not complex and it can be achieved step by step. All it takes is a systematic approach,” Schenk said.


For more information on where to get support on good governance click here


By Katie Couchman, ISCA