A guaranteed success story since the Games in Beijing eight years ago, the wheels came off in spectacular fashion in Brazil last summer when a team considered to be this country’s best ever departed South America without a single medal to its name in the ring.
Painful at the time, it has at least acted as a catalyst for potential change with the launch at the National Stadium last night of ‘Boxing Clever’, the Association’s strategic plan for the years 2017-2020.
It consists of a high performance director, head coach and assistant coaches, administration manager, full-time physhiotherapists, medical experts, a high-performance board, and support services.
Joe McCrystal, chairman of the IABA board, spoke about how the organisation had learned its lessons of the past two years and how “change was necessary” in order to bring about a “fit for purpose” body for the betterment of boxing.
The plan aims high: Ireland to be the world’s top boxing nation is the long-term goal and a place in the top three in terms of nations with fighters qualified for Tokyo are the standout goals from the44-page document.
More prosaic, but essential, ambitions are mentioned for outside the ring and include an increase in particpation, a commitment to robust governance, an increase in, and diversity of, revenue streams.
Much of it is basic. Common sense, but common sense that was in sghort supply for too long. One interesting point is the commitment to exploring all optins regarding the National Stadium: redevelopment, sale and naming rights.
Everything on the table.
Implementing all this stuff is always the hard part but the attempt to rejig the HP unit while retaining the culture, personnel and structures that it made it such a powerhouse is a challenge and one that IABA CEO Fergal Carruth accepts won’t be simple.
“We have to be cognisant of that. We weren’t as successful as we were by accident.
“We have recognised that in order for us to achieve the success that we want to reach through the next four years and beyond that we have to consider our structure and how we do things.
“It’s not just because we want to be better, because we do, it is because we are looking at our opposition: Team GB, the French, the Azerbaijans and Kazakhstans and how they are improving.
“We have highlighted where we are weak and where we need to strengthen and it is as simple as that.”
The services of Zaur Antia have already been secured for the totality of this next Olympic cycle.
Central to the next four years will be the new HP Director with the IABA advertising for the desired “qualified and experienced” candidate in the near future.
Much of what was said last night was the type of discussion that should have been held years ago. Still, better late than never.