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Irish boxing reveals new Strategic Plan 2017- 2020 'Boxing Clever'
by Michael O'Neill
December 17, 2016

(DEC 17)  Following the disappointments of Rio and the subsequent switch to the Pros of Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor, so far and others likely to follow, Ireland's National Federation has been reviewing its plans for the next four years ending with the Tokyo Olympics.

"The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) has published “ Boxing Clever” a Strategic Plan for the Association for the next four years 2017-2020. The Plan sets out the key objectives for Irish boxing with clear deliverable goals supported by defined actions in each area to ensure boxing in Ireland achieves its potential.

The plan was formulated following extensive consultation with stakeholders and members around the country through regional focus groups, one to one meetings, phone calls and an online survey.

Speaking at the launch Friday President Pat Ryan said . “This plan charts the way forward for the Association. It is now time to come together, to listen to each other so we can ensure a very positive future for Irish boxing. Everybody involved in Irish boxing now has a sense of what we are about and what we are working towards.”

Chairman of the IABA Joe Christle stated: “Our members are the lifeblood of the Association and the Strategic Plan recognises the hard work and dedication of all those who contribute to Irish boxing and sets out clear actions to improve how we support all within the boxing family.”

“We are proud of our past but as we look forward we need to continuously improve and operate as a modern day fit for purpose national sporting body. This plan forms the pathway for implementing the changes necessary to deliver on all our goals. “added CEO Fergal Carruth

The plan has five aims

• Increase participation by 15%

• Establish more robust corporate governance

• Communicate more effectively

• Increase and diversify income streams to 25% of overall income

• Strive to be top five in the world rankings and to be in the top 3 countries with boxers qualified for Tokyo 2020.

The strategy sets out the key areas for development and change within Irish boxing under the following headings:

· Bout 1 – In the ring

Develop and support the sport of boxing to ensure growth and success at all levels

· Bout 2 – Outside the ring

Fully support and respect our members and volunteers and provide the right environment to help us grow our sport

· Bout 3 – In the spotlight

Champion Irish boxing, tell our story, build our brand and raise our profile

· Bout 4 – Our Association – Back to basics

Strengthen and improve our Association to ensure we operate as a modern day fit for purpose professional national sporting body

· Bout 5 – Our Finances

Maximise our funding and improve our financial standing by diversifying income streams and becoming more financially self-sufficient.

The strategic recommendations of the 2016 Sport Ireland Post Rio Review have also been embedded in the Strategic Plan.

The 2017-2020 Strategic Plan will be rolled out to IABA members through a nationwide roadshow in 2017".

In the current economic climate prevailing in Ireland this is a welcome and ambitious plan even more so as the new powerhouses of AIBA boxing are in the former Eastern European countries and in Asia. Some would also say that the sport is doing very well in the United States and in France and Italy but like Ireland these countries have lost several of their 'top stars' to teh Pro sport and this is likely to happen more and more in the coming years.

Finance will NOT be easy to come by and even if it is "unthinkable" just now one solution may well be that the existing National Stadium is renovated to a state which makes it an attractive proposition for purchasers, perhaps a shopping centre or maybe a major badly needed housing estate. Unthinkable though that may be just now it may well come to that at the end of this four year cycle as the new Centre of Excellence at the High Performance Unit in Abbotstown has vastly better facilities for athletes and coaches alike and that can never be achieved at the National Stadium.

The plan in full is to be found at the end of this article but clearly has also had some considerable input not only for its external advisers Lisa Clancy and Sarah O'Shea but also from Sport Ireland its 'funding masters' whose own document on the performance of Irish athletes in Rio is soon to be published and will not make happy reading for the IABA. Sponsorship for boxing is always difficult especially in a country like Ireland still dominated by GAA, Soccer and Rugby albeit Boxing brings more medals from major International competitions.

There is much to welcome from a female viewpoint as the strategic plan seeks to recruit up to 100 new female coaches a year and to increase the number of young girls coming into the sport by some 15%. There are already a considerable number of young females of high standard but thus far the funding has not been there and protest though they may that is very much due to the IABA's own failure to fund the youth and junior girls teams to the same extent as their male youth counterparts.

AIBA for their part and their European Confederation EUBC must also look at the possibility of contributing to the funding for if the sport is to remain popular in Western Europe then in countries like Ireland and others AIBA must step in and provide part of the solution rather than leaving the problem to the National Federation.

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