SA Gymnastics Development Manager, represents South Africa at the 2019 FIG Colloquium

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29 March 2019. Every year the Gymnastics for All Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) organises a colloquium where all FIG Member Federations and FIG Continental Unions are invited to participate.

The annual colloquium took pace in Lisbon, Portugal from 20-24 March and was organised in cooperation with the Portuguese Gymnastics Federation.

Marti Heri represented SAGF in her capacity as the National Development Manager and Head of SAGF Gymnastics for All Technical Committee.

A total of 59 participants from 35 national federations of 38 nationalities were present in the 3 days Colloquium, which offered a big variety of presentations and discussions – led by nine invited speakers and covering a wide range of subject surrounding Gymnastics for All and sports development.

Margaret Sikkens Ahlquist, President of FIG Gymnastics for All Committee announced that all of the continental unions were represented and added: “The GFA Committee is very happy that so many participants and federations took part in the 2019 Colloquium and, as always, we had some very good, very active discussions throughout the whole event. There were excellent presentations and we felt it was a good mix of the content.”

20 March: Arrivals and opening function

Participants from around the world arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Marti initiated a special meeting with the FIG GFA committee straight after her arrival at 19:00 PM. Marti was afford with an opportunity to:

  • Give a feed-back on the recent visit of FIG President Watanabi in Cape Town.
  • Discuss the hopeful impact of the new appointment of ex SAGF CEO, Tseko Mogotsi as FIG Development Officer of Africa.
  • Give a summary of GFA Roadshow took place at the Region 5 Championship on 2-5 November 2018.
  • Tabled a proposal of SAGF assisting the development of Zone 3 (Southern Africa) and other African countries who are either registered with FIG or still busy developing on the continent.

The FIG GFA Committee was very impressed with the highlights of 2018 development and assured their support with an endorsement of SAGF programs for education and training and for the implementation of fundamental programs and planning more events in the region.

21 March: Day 1

Delegates received information about the decisions taken at the 2018 FIG Congress and how these would impact on Gymnastics for All across all the federations. Margaret Sikkens Ahlquist explained changes to the statutes concerning the FIG’s responsibilities towards safeguarding, good governance, non-discrimination and the respect for the ethics code. She also spoke about the creation of the independent Gymnastics Ethics Foundation and the new rules for gender equality, as well as about the new discipline welcomed into the gymnastics family, Parkour. The announcement of the new continental union, Oceania took place.

Jane Allen, CEO of British Gymnastics, then offered one of the opening day’s main presentations, titled ‘Good Governance and Inclusion’- How it works in a National Federation? She explained how good governance can be implemented into the work of a federation – and how non-discrimination and inclusion serve to open doors into our sport and truly make it ‘Gymnastics for All’.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent two representatives to the FIG Colloquium, Chantal Buchser and Pedro Cunha. Buchser, a senior project manager for the IOC’s sports department, gave a presentation on the programme for the IOC Sport and Active Society Commission, explaining how the Olympic governing body is involved in sport on all levels.

Monika Siskova, the Vice President of the GFA Committee, explained the history of Sokol Movement and mechanics of creating a Large Group Performance. The Colloquium delegates then spent the first afternoon at a local facility at a Disability Gymnastics Presentation – which involved practical hands-on work, as well as two excellent performances by disability gymnasts from Lisbon followed by a short presentation given by Kim Hill Participation Manager for Inclusion, British Gymnastics.

 Lisbon’s World Gym for Life Challenge bid

After the disability workshop there’s was a walk through old town to arrive to an evening reception at the City Hall where delegates heard about Lisbon’s bid to host the 2021 World Gym for Life Challenge, which was submitted last week to the FIG, with a final decision to be made by the FIG Executive Committee in May in St Petersburg (RUS).

22 March: Day 2

The morning began with a practical session on fitness Gymnastics in sitting presented by GFA Committee member Tatsuo Araki who did the same the next morning with standing exercises. These activities are promoting cognitive fitness and aiming to work with different age groups including the elderly.

After information on the Committee’s update of the FIG Foundation Course Manual, Professor Keith Russell delivered a session on ‘The Scientific Foundation of Biomechanics’. This covered Gymnastics movement patterns and commonalities in all gymnastics disciplines as an important part of the foundation course.

Lurdes Ávila and João Martins from the Portuguese Gymnastics Federation offered insights into creative choreography and Friday’s final session, led by GfA Committee member Marco Bortoleto, covered Parkour and how it can be introduced into the FIG’s member federations – prompting a useful exchange of ideas and group discussions of ‘free style gymnastics’ in the federations as a new discipline and or part of Gym for All.

Marti then organised a meeting for the representatives of Africa from Benin, Mozambique, Swaziland (Eswatini) and South Africa on Thursday afternoon to give information on the activities of SAGF, the new programs, the education and training structure and our plan to assist the further development of Africa. She shared some files with sample products, news and promotional material then created a what’s app group for easy communication and exchange of news and ideas.

The afternoon sessions was followed with an excursion to the harbour and a boat ride in the beautiful sunset. This gave another opportunity for discussions and networking with members of other federations.

23 March: Day 3

The final day of the Colloquium included a presentation from Professor Russell on ‘The Scientific Foundation of Education.” He shed light on new scientific research on education – providing a reminder to all on the importance of keeping updated and not reliant solely on traditional ways of teaching and coaching.

Another speaker was Per Sjöstrand from the UEG Team Gym Committee, who discussed how this discipline can be used within Gymnastics for All – and his wish to popularise the activity worldwide. Finally, there was information about the upcoming World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn (Austria). 61 nations entered the event, including 5 African countries: South Africa (238), Zimbabwe (23), Mozambique (20), Malawi (16) and Cape Verde (30). Some early details from Dutch Gymnastics regarding the 2023 event in Amsterdam was given.

In the afternoon all Continental Federations gave some insight of the membership and Gym for All activities on their continent.

Marti assisted UAG Vice President, Isidore Gbaguidi to prepare his presentation on the current structure of 3 Zones and future plans for Africa.

Marti used the opportunity to connect with representatives of other federations to get a better insight in their structure and to continue networking for future projects and exchange programs.

She also had discussions with members from Azerbaijan, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Iran, Ireland, Mozambique, Nederland, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, Swaziland, USA and Continental Union: EUG and Asia. The European Gymnastics Union is keen on assisting SAGF with workshops on Team Gym.

Marti said “I would love to thanks SAGF and SRSA to afford me with the opportunity to represent South Africa and Southern Africa on this prestigious event.”