Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hopes dashed for Team Canada discussion at CCA's AGM

Bruce Cameron reports that the topic of team selection for Team Canada was not discussed at this weekend's AGM of the Canadian Curling Association.

While disappointing to those hoping for at least an acknowledgment of the issue, it was not surprising given the administrative hurdles involved in bringing a topic to the floor without months of preparation and due notice.

Athlete empowerment, bringing wheelchair curlers into the decision making process in all areas of the sport, takes organisation and effort, even when there is broad agreement on goals. Wheelchair curling is no more than a pimple on the backside of the sport as a whole, and it will take a lot for the CCA to change present processes that bring reflected glory via podium success.

There has been a very productive discussion in earlier threads about the issues and possible ways forward. For those wanting change, ignore the naysayers who claim nothing can be done; ignore those who call dissatisfaction with the present system mere whining.

Change can come if athletes force it. So, form a wheelchair curling association within your province and affiliate with your provincial association (PA). Set your policy about Team Canada selection. Make your policy known to your PA and find out how to make it provincial policy, at a minimum by making it a topic for their next AGM.

If most wheelchair curlers are represented at the provincial level, a national association might be a next step.

If enough provincial associations have, as policy, a change to the Team Canada selection process, then there will be the support necessary to put it on next year's CCA agenda.

There are delegates to the CCA's AGM who are willing to help. They need the tools, and only action by wheelchair curlers themselves can supply them.

I've added Bruce Cameron's report to the comments, which are open to positive suggestions for ways forward. If your point of view is that nothing can or should be done, this thread is not the place to express it.


Bruce Cameron said...

Katie, Joanna and myself (all wheelchair curlers) attended the CCA AGM. The selection process for Team Canada was not discussed.

Katie and I also attended the session "DISCOVER CURLING! Symposium about curlers with disabilities and non-traditional markets. The session will explore future strategies to develop the sport in new markets in particular, Canadians with disabilities. Special guests will speak to the opportunities available to our sport (Danny Lamoureux)"

That is a quote from the overall National Curling Congress agenda. Although Discover Curling must fall under Danny's responsibility and he was in attendance the symposium was facilitated by Chris Daw. Visually impaired and hearing impaired curlers both addressed the gathering as did Chris Daw. A lady from a Canadian association dealing with all disabled sports also spoke.(please forgive me for not remembering her name and the exact title who she represented). Her parting words were go back to your provinces and consult with the wheelchair basketball associations as they have successful programs. Some wheelchair curlers that I have spoke to that have been involved in both sports by and large think that is a bad thing. I am sure there are lots of opinions on that topic.

My perception prior to the symposium and after was it was aimed at recruiting disabled curlers by sharing ideas on how to do that. There were no earth shattering ideas on how to do that. As a matter of fact there was really nothing new. Perhaps to provinces that have minimal wheelchair curling activity there might have been some info. For established clubs there was no new "bait" to throw out and expand their membership.

I was a bit disappointed in the fact that no one from a successful wheelchair curling club was invited to speak on what they have done to enable their success.

FYI - At the AGM of the CCA it was decided to hold the AGM in the Ottawa area or within a 2 hour drive for at least the next three years.

Anonymous said...

Look, let's get realistic. The Program has a proven level of success. We are in our infancy, and everyone knows it. The Program, and its spin-offs do very well given the numbers we have.

Let's look for some support from Team Canada players and coaches to spread information and experience. Their is no particular advantage, as there was last season, to go trotting off two or three times to Europe, packing more staff than players.
Use some funding to generate Team Canada vs. domestic, hold clinics, etc., and share the information.

Anonymous said...

The forum setup by Chris was a first start. I say hats off to him! He has worked had for funding and to just get the forum at the AGM was a 3 year project. Having to speak to all interest groups is the mandate of the CCA under the discover curling program not just wheelchair curling.

I think Chris has done an excellent job for the last 4 years developing our sport in the background and playing the politics on our behalf. It is not easy to work with the CCA and again I congratulate him on work well done.

We have no idea how much work he has been doing in the background for us.!

Way to go Chris!

Bruce Cameron said...

I would like to clear up or explain how the annual "gathering" of the CCA proceeded. The meeting was called "NATIONAL CURLING CONGRESS" and its theme was "Beyond 2010!".It was held in Gatineau. QC - June 16 - 19 2010. It was made up of many sessions, such as "Meeting of Executive Directors", "Orientation of New Delegates" and "Discover Curling" to name just a few. The AGM was the last item on the agenda of the National Curling Congress. Discover Curling was NOT a topic of discussion at the AGM.

Most but not all of the sessions on the agenda of the National Curling Congress were open to observers/interested people. At this time, I have no idea if the topic of Team Canada selection was discussed at any of the pre AGM sessions.

This is in no way intended to take anything away from the work that Chris Daw has done over the last few years but I wanted to make clear that "Discover Curling" was not an agenda item at the
AGM nor was it discussed at the AGM of the CCA.

Anonymous said...

The headline of this aricle is misleading. Hopes could not be dashesd when there was no real attempt at being on the agenda. Let's work for reform in 2012, to start post 2014. They have a successful program that will not have wholesale changes right now.

Anonymous said...

Come on, people; what did you expect?

A successful program in its neophyte stage, and we expect wholesale change? Beyond unlikely, to say the least. Get our numbers up, using Team Canada as a promoter. I believe CCA will look at domestic alternatives for training Team Canada next season, as we launch a new quadrennial. Let's work together, rather than at odds.

Daniel said...

I tried to find information on the CCA web site for the CCA 2010 AGM meeting but couldn't find anything on it or the NCC for this year. WHY is it not better publicized? Who can attend? Does anybody send out invitations? I am a member of Curling Quebec. Are they the ones who should be sending out this information?

Why don't more people sign their names when they post comments?

Daniel Janidlo
Lennoxville Curling Club
Wheelchair Curling Program
Sherbrooke, QC

Anonymous said...

I think that if the CCA (Peckham) was hit with a bunch of complaints about the existing Program, he would throw up his hands and allow the National winner to go to Worlds

Anonymous said...

Anyone got the guts to start a campaign? Remeber, we would be attempting to dismantle a very successful program.

Eric Eales said...

To the person who keeps describing the present Team Canada program as a success (I suspect it's the same person, or possibly him and a couple of friends) I would say that there are many ways of judging success, and winning medals is just one of them.

I noticed in the self-congratulatory report by Greg Stremlaw to the CCA's annual assembly that podium finishes featured very highly. That's fair enough as far as it goes.

But what the apologists for the present system fail to acknowledge is that on other criteria, the Team Canada program has not succeeded, and will never succeed under present circumstances.

Has it produced an upswell in participation? Has it made Canada's wheelchair curling program respected outside of Canada? Has the national coach advanced the cause of wheelchair curling across Canada? Has the national program increased the skill level of provincial programs?

Those in charge would probably say that's not their job, and I don't think Gerry Peckham, the CCA's High Performance coach, can be convinced to make changes that might weaken immediate medal prospects but be to the long term benefit the sport. That's not his mandate, and that is not the mandate of anyone presently involved in the national program.

If it was up to the CCA they would select teams across the board, not just wheelchair curling. They don't do that because individual curlers, through their provincial associations, insist on a team "win-to-play" system, understanding that while it might not always produce the strongest team for the World Championships, the benefits to the sport as a whole, to the sense if inclusion, outweighs the downside.

So, yes it is a successful program if all you care about is medals, but remember it took a non-wheelchair user taking over at skip to produce success after Torino. And that may or may not continue.

Anonymous said...

So, Eric,

Your position is that the program is no further ahead with a starategy of medals? Where does the money come from, if we are in the same basket as blind curling, etc.?

Wheelchair curling has the profile now which can not be diminished (in Canada, particularly), and bringing it back to a level of, for instance, blind curling, benefits no one in our sport.

Anonymous said...

Blind curling is not a Paralympic Sport so that is a poor analogy. I suspect and agree that present or hopeful beneficiaries of the present system are writing here en masse. I agree with Eric, success is not only measured by medals although I'm confident that if we were to switch to a win to play system we would be just as successful over time if not immediately.

We will never know how well the top provincial teams compare until they are given an opportunity to compete against the faux Canadian Champions (Team Canada).

Anonymous said...

Point taken. So let's do the challenge of Team Canada first, and if competitive, we can lobby for an appropriate change in the program

Anonymous said...

Just a query......How is it that Blind curling, and even deaf curling has been around for decades and has not hit the profile of wheelchair curling, which is so relatively new?

We certainly seem to be the oddity.

Anonymous said...

I think the Team Canada challenge would be a great start. What if they were available for , say a three game exhibition in all provinces? They get tons of games, and each association has a day or two to pick the brains of the Program?

Eric Eales said...

To the person wondering why wheelchair curling has gained a public profile that the longer established hearing and sight impaired programs lack I'd say that those who have spent time around disability politics know there is a hierachy among the various groups when it comes to public interest and funding. Wheelchair sports are the sexiest, the easiest for the public to relate to.

You notice wheelchairs on the street, competing in road races, wheeling for charity. The deaf and sight impaired communities don't have that kind of public profile.

Perhaps if sight impaired curlers had the forceful advocacy of a Kate Caithness at the the WCF, they too would be Paralympians.

Anonymous said...

I think the above blogger has it right. Get Team Canada to play in all regions of Canada this year. Theere is no compelling need to go overseas much for the next year or two, and ket's have everyone get some mileage out of the program.

AND I think it would be more appropriate for the CCA to initiate suc a scheme, rather than having individual provincial bodies beg for the chance to play Team Canada.

Anonymous said...

The CCA will not change a thing, since there is no real motivation to change things, and thjey are getting their precious medals

Daniel said...

Why don't we start with Team Canada playing at the Kathy Kerr in Ottawa next November, another bonspiel on the East Coast in mid-December and a third bonspiel in Sask or Manitoba in mid-January?

It would be nice to be able to cover the travel costs of teams!!!

In Quebec, to be able to play other wheelchair curlers we would have to travel between Montreal and Sherbrooke (170 km), between Sherbrooke and Quebec City ( 250 km) and between Montreal and Quebec City ( 200 km ?). You have travel cost, hotel costs and meals for at least two or three days. How many times a year can a team or teams afford to do this?

How do we overcome Canadian geography? $$$$$$$$$$

Daniel Janidlo
Sherbrooke, Quebec

Anonymous said...

Why not cut the Team Canada apart from the Domestic Program, develop the domestic, calll a spade a spade, and challenge Team Canada to represent Canada.

Anonymous said...

It does seem that a Team Canada challenge will be the first step

Anonymous said...

First step, BUT WHEN?

Anonymous said...

We really should start to push for sme interaction with Team Canada....Exhibition? Bonspiels in Canada? Challenge?

How does one go about it, since I don't believe anyone has formally, or informally asked about it?

sonja gaudet said...

hello to everyone on this blog - and i would like to say it might be an idea for peoples to put names to their comments.....this is just brainstorming and searching for a better process and that's good stuff.

i would also like to get involved and have many comments to make in response to some of the bloggers ideas - but really quickly to start with would be this...

as individual athletes - we need to get into our community clubs and play on able-bodied leagues on a regular basis. this is where new and experiences wc/curlers will get better and better. don't "sit" around waiting for more wc/athletes to appear so that you can form a team - it probably won't happen in the smaller communities.

this was what laura domenicucci from the cpc - paralympic sport develpment - was referring to when comparing our sport to wc/basketball at the agm. it is a way to get individuals involved and develop them to eventually be a part of an entire team of wc/curlers. it is not to say that we should be competing this way provincially or nationally.

i totally agree that there needs to be information and experience sharing amongst one another in order to continue to grow.

that's my thought for now - i have lots though! :)

Corinne Jensen said...

Hi everyone,
I tetally agree with what Sonya has said above.I started this sport just 3 years ago and in the past two seasons I played with the afternoon ladies league which gave me lots of practice (never done before in my club)I have organized as many spiels and demonstraitions as I could. Two Victoria Juan de Fuca WC apiels. I have organized 3 different chanlenges - 2 against mens tems atteding the Bear mtn Curling classic team Joanisse 2008, and in 2009 a gainst Team Scotland David Murdoch we kicked their butts! We also did a demo at the provincial Ladies Scotties playdowns in Parkswille 2009 and then a demo challenge at the 2009 Scotties in Victoria against Team Cheryl Bernard and beat them too! Then I put together our team that went to the Nationals and beyond belief we ccame out as National Champions. As a team "we believed! I fundrised with RHWM and local businesses. I contacted TV, News papers and have done all possible to promote our sport with great sucess. Now I have moved to Nanaimo and look forward to joining a ladies league and my husband Al and I are going to join a mixed league as well. I love this game and I hope everyone
works to grow the sport like I am trying to. We need to be proactive, be involved - put ourselves out there. I will work to put a spiel together here in Nanaimo next.
Who's coming?
Corinne Jensen

Collinda Joseph said...

Thanks for your comments Sonja and you are correct, an excellent way to improve skills and strategy recognition is to play with able bodied leagues and all competitive wheelchair curlers I know play in able bodied leagues and on able bodied teams. But that's not going to make a single bit of difference to opportunities for national team participation by other curlers if there is no change. I agree with Eric's earlier post where he is questioning what is meant by success. To the CCA it is simply medal wins and the same is true for wheelchair basketball. But the difference between wheelchair basketball and wheelchair curling is that there are opportunities for athletes who are interested in playing on a national team to participate in a tryout. And that is how you get into the grassroots level.

Eric asked the following questions about the wheelchair curling program in Canada and its success (or so called success):

>>Has it produced an upswell in participation? Has it made Canada's wheelchair curling program respected outside of Canada? Has the national coach advanced the cause of wheelchair curling across Canada? Has the national program increased the skill level of provincial programs?

I believe that the answer to all of these questions has been no.

Simply saying that wheelchair curlers need to play with able bodied leagues will not increase participation rates, nor will it solve the problem of having a selected team from a very small pool of select players. That pool is very difficult to break into when other athletes are not even given a second look.

I also agree with the blogger who said that if we went to a team win system, things might be slow at first, but I would bet that those athletes who want to get to the next level would work hard to get there because they know there's at least a chance. At this point, and the way things have been developing for wheelchair curling, that will never happen and the sport will lose some potentially excellent athletes and curlers.