The International Canoe Federation had to be prepared to change the way it operates if it wants to stay relevant for the future, the sport’s board meeting in Tokyo has been told.

ICF vice-president, Thomas Konietzko, said the ICF had to position itself to be the body looking after all forms of sport involving a paddle and where participants faced forwards.

In particular he said the Federation needed to embrace recreational paddlers and Masters athletes, but could only do so by making it attractive for these paddlers to join the ICF.

“Our additional structure has worked well for 50 years, but if we don’t think about our structures and how it will shape the future, we are in danger as a Federation,” Konietzko said.

“We need to embrace all canoe activities. We need to embrace all sports involving a paddle facing forwards.

“And we need to look at ways to embrace recreational paddlers under the ICF.”

Konietzko said one proposal was to introduce the option of ‘associate memberships’, which would be open to all sporting federations which deal with canoeing activities.

He also emphasised the need to hold discussions with all the national federations, who are the major stakeholders in the sport, to ensure they are in support of the changes and about the best way to achieve the goals.

“We would not be looking at taking over these federations or associations,” Konietzko said.

“They will have their own member federations, be able to determine their own membership fees.

“But we would hope that they would agree to abide by our ICF rules and principles. We have the attraction of being the governing body for canoeing in the Olympics, and we can also help these sports become part of other international multi-sport events.”

Konietzko said the long-term goal would be to have a unified Water Sports Federation covering all canoe-related activity.

Canoe Sprint
Canoe Marathon
Canoe Polo
Dragon Boat
Canoe Slalom
Wildwater Canoeing
Canoe Freestyle
Canoe Ocean Racing
Stand Up Paddling
Canoe Sailing