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The Future Of Paddlesports And National Governing Bodies

The following comes from a post on Facebook from Claire O’Hara.

Although this post relates directly to Paddle Australia and Australian Canoeing many other national governing bodies may also only see the Olympic medal count.

Feeling let down, disappointed and disrespected once again by paddle sport organisations.

Could not be more frustrated at Paddle Australia and Australian Canoeing. Last night was the #paddleaustralia awards night. Should rename the organisation the Australian Olympic and Paralympic association. As there was no mention, not even a photo of many of the non Olympic disciplines or recreational disciplines despite so many representatives and volunteers from the 12+ paddle sport disciplines sat in the room. I know this as everyone is talking about it although I was not there. I was sat in the hotel room upstairs. As an Australian resident, one of the most committed volunteers to the Australian freestyle and white water community and development coaches for the last 6 Year’s, as the current two times world champion, member of the ICF athlete committee volunteer, 8 x ICF Freestyle Kayak World Champion and the only ICF A grade judge in Oceania. Despite the fact that In two weeks time I’m volunteering to run the first ever Australian freestyle judge training seminar and that next year I’ll be running the first ever Oceania ICF judges seminar and Having already been massively involved in and knowing I will continue to be asked (by Australian Canoeing) to volunteer a lot of time to help organise and run the first ever freestyle kayaking Oceania’s and Aus Open here in Australia in Feb 2019z I didn’t get an invite!!! Despite the insult of me (when I found out) emailing them direct a number to ask for one myself.

I was offered the opportunity to buy a ticket for $115 to be Jez Jezz plus 1. Thanks Australian Canoeing is that how much you value everything I have achieved and that I do for our sport!!!

But it’s the bigger issue than this. It’s not just personal as frustrating as this is. I can’t tell you how frustrated I am once again in the systems and organisations who are supposed to promote, develop and celebrate our sport and the athletes and volunteers within it. This is supposed to be the sport of canoeing / kayaking. A sport for which one of its massive strengths is that it has something for everyone, any age, any interest, and any level. A true sport ‘for all’.

Change needs to happen. This can’t go on for the next generations in our sport.

This isn’t just an Australian issue. When was the last time paddling Phenemenon’s Dane Jackson, Nouria Neuman, Anionl and Gerd Serioulous, Ben Stokesbury and all the other pioneering (non Olympic paddle sport athletes) really got the celebration and they deserve. Canoe Polo, Surf, Expoloration, White Water, Freestyle, Squirt Boating, Marathon, Sea Kayaking, Recreational paddling, fishing kayaking, the list goes on….

There is so much to our sport. Now let’s have our National Governing Bodies start making a step to showcase and celebrate this. A change has to come this has been going on too long. What are we currently teaching the next generation about equality and equity in sport.

All athletes, all disciplines, all volunteers should be celebrated, supported and showcased equally. There should be no hierarchy within a sport!

Please share. This needs to change it’s been going on to long.


  1. Looks like it has not gotten any better since the days I was on the Wild Water committee.It is all about the funding. Best event in Australia for fun and no egos is the Snowy extreme race. Grass roots self funded.

  2. Phil Jones, CEO, Paddle Australia

    November 5, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Love to be able to invite all the volunteers and officials in our sport in Australia to our Annual Awards as they all contribute so much our the sport. Sadly, we don’t have the budget and have to draw a line somewhere. We are looking at ways to better acknowledge their great contribution in the future. It was great to meet those volunteers that did join us on Saturday and hear their stories. Also great to have Finalists from Wild Water, Ocean Racing, Sprint, Slalom and Paracanoe.

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