Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where is British Curling headed?

British Curling is an enigma! In the run up to the Vancouver Olympics it was the key player. The organisation, under the chairmanship of Chris Hildrey, was charged with all aspects of the selection, preparation and performance of the British curling teams. In theory, British Curling is the body recognised by the British Olympic Association/British Paralympic Association and UK Sport as responsible for the preparation, selection and performance of the teams for those events which require the participation of a 'British' curling team i.e. the Olympics, World University Games and the Youth Olympics. But read on!

A new era dawned last year with the appointment of a new board (see here), with Mike Gillespie as Chairman. The Royal Club has a bigger stake in the organisation, Willie Nicoll having a seat on the board and Bruce Crawford being the chief operating officer.

Over recent months it has been apparent that all is not well.

For one thing, the organisation's website (here) has been 'down for maintenance' for a while. Then there is the (unconfirmed) rumour that all the Olympic money from UK Sport - more than £2,200,000 - has gone to the sportscotland Institute of Sport, and preparations for Sochi are already being masterminded by Dave Crosbee and his team there. What role then for British Curling?

Then last month it was announced, see here, that Mike Gillespie had resigned as Chairman of British Curling. I believe he is heading abroad to work.

The British Curling Board met recently to discuss the way forward. Adverts will appear soon for the position of chairman, with interviews scheduled for early August.

In the interim, Hew Chalmers will head up the organisation. Safe hands indeed. However, Hew has indicated that he will not be applying for the BC chairman's post as he is on the Board of the British Olympic Association (see here), and there could be conflict of interests at BOA board level.

I had hoped that with the appointment of the new board back in December that British Curling would no longer be the 'secret society' it had been. Some hope!

Hew has promised that the selection of a new chair will involve 'an open transparent interview process'. That will be a good start. We all will be looking to see what role British Curling will have in the years ahead.