Since the new FIR Council was voted in at the end of August, alongside myself as President, we have been busy putting together many important changes, many of which will come into effect from 2019 onwards. So whilst wishing you all a very happy new year I thought I’d take this opportunity to also explain some of these important new developments.
Marketing & Promotion: Raising the Profile of Racketlon
Needing to raise the profile and general awareness of Racketlon was my number one priority and is my prime goal for 2019 and beyond. From January onwards we will have a professionally managed social media system in place which will create regular, exciting, new content aimed to both engage our existing community with live reporting from tournaments, player interviews, training tips etc as well as content specifically designed to let the world know about Racketlon and how they can get involved.
We will undertake an extensive online paid advertising campaign through social media channels which will enable us to target specific sporting communities around the world to let them know all about Racketlon.
From January myself and parts of the Council will also begin working with a consultant from a professional sports marketing agency that has extensive experience working with national and international federations. They will oversee all our strategies around raising awareness, increasing participation whilst also implementing a system of regular player feedback after each tournament. They will also work with our top players to raise their profiles, in particular connecting them with various media opportunities. Very importantly they will install robust monitoring and evaluation so that we can clearly assess what is and isn’t working and adjust our plans accordingly.
All the above are hugely exciting developments for Racketlon. They will give us a genuine chance, over time, to dramatically increase the profile of Racketlon which will then provide a whole range of new opportunities: official recognition and big sponsorship being two important examples.
But we will need the help of the Racketlon community to achieve this awareness – you will certainly begin to see an increase in Racketlon related content across social media: blogs, videos, pics, articles, polls, campaigns, podcasts, live tournament reports etc – WE NEED YOU TO ENGAGE WITH THIS CONTENT: SHARE, LIKE & COMMENT AND HELP US SPREAD THE RACKETLON WORD FAR AND WIDE!
Funding & Prize Money
We have had to find ways to fund these exciting new marketing developments and after a lot of thought, research and consultation, a plan was proposed to make prize money at tournaments optional for Tournament Directors (TD) – and that 50% of what TD’s would have paid out in prize money would now go towards a central FIR marketing fund. It was a proposal that would successfully fund our entire new marketing strategy and I’m glad that it has now been officially approved by the FIR Council.
World Team Championships
The current promotion/relegation division system for the Open Team classes at the team world championships will be changed. With the strength of country’s teams varying so much from year to year (due to availability, injury etc), maintaining promotion and relegation caused too many problems. Instead, three separate team competitions will be created with their own trophies/titles.
Countries will register their squads (1st, 2nd, 3rd teams etc) one month before the tournament indicating if they wish to be in the A, B or C competition. Only countries 1st teams will be allowed in the A competition. The FIR will decide which are the 8 strongest teams for the A competition, then which teams go into the B and C competitions. It will allow more countries to get their teams into the competition that suits their strength for that year. More details will be announced in January.
Ranking System Review
A rankings review committee has been formed: Dan Busby, Hans Van Daele and Poku Salu will be evaluating various new options from tweaking the existing system to other, completely new ranking models and they will be running these options in the background throughout the 2019 season in order to assess how successful they could be.
They will report their findings towards the end of the 2019 season and recommend any changes to be implemented for the start of 2020.
Nationality Rule in Elite Draws
The rule that you cannot play someone from your own country in the first round will be abolished but only for the elite draws. Having the elite draws totally open with no restrictions puts Racketlon far more in line with other professional sports.
FIR Seat to Switzerland
A huge amount of work has been put into moving the official FIR seat away from Vienna, Austria and to be set up the FIR in Switzerland. This is another exciting development and has wide support from our member countries – the move will become official after a final EGM in February 2019.
Switzerland is the home of many international sports federations of all sizes so having the long term base of the FIR in Switzerland will present many interesting opportunities.
I hope you all have a fantastic new year, stay injury free and I look forward to seeing you at a tournament on the 2019 Tour very soon.
Duncan Stahl / FIR President