Sharing good governance experiences
At a seminar in Flanders, democracy, board competences and experiences with sports governance were discussed as a part of the NSGO project.
Lately, a number of national sports federations in Flanders, Belgium, have had their governance structures thouroughly examined as part of the on-going National Sports Governance Observer (NSGO) project. The NSGO is an Erasmus+ Project led by Play the Game and involving eight European countries aiming at creating a benchmarking tool that can measure the state of governance in national sports federations.
On 3 May, the Belgian partners of the project, the Vlaamse Sportfederatie, the umbrella organisation of sports federations in Flanders (Belgium) and KU Leuven, hosted the first in a line of national seminars meant to build capacity for future efforts in the field of governance and to strengthen communication and networking across stakeholder groups in the national setting.
The Flemish event was primarily attended by representatives from the Flemish sports federations, government and academic researchers, but respresentatives from sports organisations in the neighbouring country the Netherlands were also present.
The seminar, that was held in Antwerp, focused on sharing experiences regarding good governance in practice, good as well as bad, and discussions were initiated on the basis of governance situations with which the participants could agree or disagree.
The governance issues discussed included board composition and election procedures, equal representation of all stakeholders and whether or not corruption is in fact an issue in Flemish sports.
Good governance is more than a set of principles
In Flanders, a code of sports governance requiring sports federations to live up to certain criteria to sustain public funding was implemented in 2017. The NSGO seminar therefore helped consolidate some of the changes that were implemented with this new code, explains Leen Magherman from the Flemish Sports Confederation.
The seminar was meant to work as an exchange of experiences of how the federations have made use of the code and other good governance principles to improve their structures.
But while good governance holds a lot of grey areas and involves more than just aligning with a set of principles, clearly defined procedures help secure proper practices, says Magherman.
“Good governance is more than having the right procedures and documents, the culture is important. But perhaps a culture of good governance can more effectively be reached and be preserved if those procedures exist. They protect the good governance of the organisation on a more permanent basis than people themselves can,” she says.
The seminar was moderated by Flemish journalist, Tom Boudeweel, who guided the fifty attendees through the evening.