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AMERICA'S BILL BERNE TO ASSUME W.C.F. PRESIDENCY AS CROQUET'S WORLD BODY AUTHORIZES POSTAL VOTING
by Bob Alman


By the end of June, voting members of the World Croquet Federation will have elected four new members of the Management Committee and confirmed the retiring president of the United States Croquet Association - Dr. Bill Berne of Lumberton, North Carolina - as the world body's new chief executive.


For more than year, it has been widely known that Bill Berne, former president of the United States Croquet Association and treasurer of the WCF since 1994, was the only candidate to replace Fred Rogerson of Ireland as president of the World Croquet Federation at the end of Rogerson's four-year service. It has been assumed that the official transition would have to wait for a convenient time, when a sufficient number of voting representatives of the "Full" voting members could be together in one place - at the WCF championship in Bunbury, Australia, in November of this year.

But now, the member organizations have elected unanimously to inaugurate new procedures recommended by the Management Committee to allow voting by postal mail. This means that future decisions can be taken more quickly by a simple postal voting procedure that will enable all voting member organizations to give full weight to their views in all voting matters.

BALLOT RESULTS TO BE ANNOUNCED ON JULY 31

Voting is to be completed by postal balloting by the end of the month, and results are to be announced on July 31st, according to Chris Hudson, WCF Secretary-General.

In addition to the unopposed election of Berne, four seats on the Management Committee are being contested by five candidates. The Management Committee consists of six elected members plus the president. Retiring in rotation are Masaru Ikeda (Japan) and Ashley Heenan (New Zealand); the term of Chris Hudson has also expired, but he is running for re-election. Remaining on the board in their unexpired terms are Antoine Ravez (France) and Ashley Heenan (New Zealand).

HUDSON EXPECTED TO STAY ON AS SECRETARY-GENERAL

Chris Hudson has held the post of Secretary-General of the WCF since the founding of the organization in 1986. For most of that time, he was also the National Development officer of the English CA. More than anyone else, Hudson, as the most active long-time officer of the organization and the man "in the field" making things happen internationally, has shaped the agenda and direction of the organization in its formative years.

After the election, the Management Committee will appoint from among its members a Treasurer and a Secretary-General. At this time, it is assumed that Chris Hudson will be re-appointed to the post.

THE DIFFICULT ISSUES - WORLD TEAMS AND THE MACROBERTSON

The new Management Committee will inherit the major issues of the outgoing group, principal among them the question of whether and how the MacRobertson Shield, held every three years, is to become the official WCF world team event. Opinion is divided, but seems to fall out on the "yes" side.

Even if the consensus says "yes," however, many thorny side issues are yet to be thrashed out between radically opposed points of view. For example: How large is the licensing fee the MacRobertson Shield would have to pay the WCF to get the sanction of the official world body and the government grants and other financial benefits that come with it? And: How many other nations may be allowed to compete in the MacRobertson Shield, and on what conditions?

President Fred Rogerson addressed strongly the licensing issue in a broadside in the WCF's official newsletter last year. [See our report of Rogerson's statement in CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE.]

Some leading figures in croquet would prefer to create a separate world team event that could include many emerging croquet countries and leave the MacRobertson as it is, limited to the "big four" powers of Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. The prospect of "diluting" the MacRobertson or other world championship events is particularly distressing to some top players. [Our "Courtside Chat" with England's Debbie Cornelius includes her views on this issue.]

There are five nominations for four vacancies on the Management Committee, the vacancies being caused by the retirement of three members of the Committee in rotation as defined by WCF Rule 5(E), and by the vacancy caused by Bill Berne's impending unopposed election as President.

THE CANDIDATES - WHO THEY ARE AND WHERE THEY STAND

The five candidates and their proposers are as follows:
Mr. Ahmed Hammrosh The Egyptian Croquet Federation
Mr. Chris Hudson The Australian Croquet Association
Mr. Colin Irwin The English Croquet Association
Mr. John Prince The New Zealand Croquet Council
Mr. Rod Williams The Scottish Croquet Association

Hammrosh, representing Egypt as the newest "Full" voting member of the WCF, states as his specific aims: "to introduce croquet to other Arab countries in the Middle East; to set up coaching schemes; to increase the number of croquet-playing countries in the African continent; and to unify the lawns and develop the playing of Golf Croquet internationally."

In stating his aims, Colin Irwin of England expresses his concern "that opinion seems to be growing more negative towards the WCF. We need the support of the membership," he says, "and not just financially, so we need to be seen to be listening to them and consulting them for their views." Irwin supports the idea of expanding the MacRobertson Shield to make it a world team championship, but acknowledges that the debate is nowhere close to resolution. It is not known, he says, "what we each want to get out of a world team championship. My primary aim in this area if elected would be to find out."

John Prince of New Zealand, who has represented his country seven times in the MacRobertson (five times as captain), states, "I am a strong supporter of the MacRobertson Shield Test Series and would welcome new nations to the competition. I would also support the MacRobertson Shield...being recognized 'officially' as a World Team Event."

Scotland's Rod Williams has stated, "If elected to the WCF Management Committee I would promote representation of all croquet playing countries in world events, regardless of their size or financial status. This seems to me to be the most effective means of promoting croquet on the world stage." He adds, however, "I believe the MacRobertson Shield would not, in its present form, be suitable as a vehicle for a World Teams Championship, though I am confident an acceptable compromise can be found."

HOW THE WORLD CROQUET FEDERATION IS ORGANIZED

The World Croquet Federation has two classes of membership; "Full" members, and "Observer" members. "Observer" membership is open to any national croquet association,. but to qualify for "Full" membership, the croquet association must have a constitution and an independent national representation.

For "Full" membership, there must be clear evidence of a national structure, with at least 5 subsidiary organizations (clubs, etc), and the association must be able to produce audited accounts demonstrating the payment of membership subscriptions to it. In addition, the association must play a version of croquet recognized by the WCF, and there must be clear evidence that the association is involved in promoting croquet and has an effective coaching scheme in place. The association must also have ultimate responsibility for the tournament calendar within its area of jurisdiction, and must have staged at least two national championships. The number of individual participants acknowledging the authority of the association must exceed 50.

At present, there are only nine full voting members of the WCF: Australia, Egypt, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States; another couple of dozen countries have "observer" status and may not vote. The voting entitlement of each full member is determined by the number of individual associates affiliated to it. If the association has less than 500 associates, it has one vote. An association with a number of associates between 500 and 1000 has 2 votes, and associations with more than 1000 associates are given 3 votes.

[This report is based largely on a June 1997 press release of the WCF and E-Mail correspondence with Chris Hudson, Secretary-General.]


 
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