Edition No. 28. Autumn, 2001. Today is
British Judo Association AGM
AGM Report 8th September, 2001


The BJA members elected a new chairman at the AGM in Reading in September. Britain's former World and European Championship medallist, Densign White, took over the reigns as the BJA also elected three new board members. Densign was elected by a clear majority over outgoing chairman, Lesley-Anne Alexander, by 240 votes to 170. Meanwhile, Roy Inman, Dermot Heslop and Richard Kenney were elected to the board in a major shake-up in the hierarchy of the establishment. Gordon Mortimer, as acting chairman, opened the AGM and paid tribute to Charles Palmer, before announcing that George Kerr had been voted in as honorary president for a year until a new president is elected.

The AGM was a typically fiery affair with the BJA and many of its employees coming in for heavy criticism. Communication within the organisation and between the BJA and its members was brought up by several different members who pointed out missed opportunities for the BJA to get involved in international coaching and refereeing seminars. The BJA also came under fire for the break-down of relationships with both the IJF and the EJU. And the BJA was also criticised for not supplying several of its employees with contracts, job descriptions and targets.

Several members wanted to focus on kata and technical judo, which they believed should become more prominent in the grading syllabus for both juniors and seniors. There were also suggestions that more should be done to keep ex-fighters involved in the sport either through coaching or refereeing. Several members also complained that the national coaches were not providing adequate training programmes for top fighters not involved in a full-time coaching set-up.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the BJA, as the members demonstrated a great deal of support for the new chairman. Mr. White then gave a presentation, which was called 'Time for Change'. He vowed to worked hard to improve relations with both the EJU and the IJF, as well as the British Schools Judo Association (BSJA) which had been neglected under the last management. Mr. White spoke about the need to restructure the organisation and create new roles, such as a Chief Executive to run the organisation. He also outlined his plans to increase membership and attract sponsorship to generate more income so the BJA does not need to go grovelling to the Sports Council every time it needs funds.

Kevin Moore, the BJA's Sports Council representative, revealed that the Sports Council has put 820,000 per year into the BJA's World Class Performance Plan, along with another 160,000 towards infrastructure funding and 30,000 for the cadets. That's over one million pounds per year being pumped into the BJA. Mr Moore said that he hoped the new board would make good use of the funds. He said "This is a good opportunity for people to air their views. They may not be positive but its an exciting time for the sport with changes and funding. I hope the new board will grasp the opportunities that come its way." Mr. White also talked about raising the standards of coaching and also giving greater recognition and rewards to successful coaches. He reminded members that Scotland's Billy Cussack had been given a UK coach of the year award in 1999, even pipping Sir Alex Ferguson into second place.

Mr. White suggested that more should be made of these successes and that the BJA could even introduce its own coach of the year award. He also outlined the need to improve media coverage of Judo and expressed his surprise that BJA members such as TWoJ's own editor, Bob Willingham and Fighting Films' Simon Hicks, both work regularly for the EJU and IJF but have not been used enough by the BJA. He stressed the need for the BJA to take advantage of its resources. Indeed it is a time for a great deal of change and Mr. White demonstrated an acute awareness of the many challenges facing him during his term of office. "We have a job to do and we're going to do it," he said in conclusion, quoting former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.

There was a presentation by Peter Holme about the Commonwealth Games, inviting BJA members to become volunteers for the event which is sure to be one of the biggest tournaments ever staged in Britain. And lastly there was a special award for Joe Eakins, (Midland Area Council member) who was given an honorary black belt for his services to Judo. Despite never grading beyond green belt, Joe has been heavily involved in Judo in the Midlands for many years. Joe was a founder member of the Board of directors at the BJA and during his involvement in judo he helped organise the National Championships in Crystal Palace for eight years as well as once organising transport at the South Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea!

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