International coordinator Report 2015-16

News from the PDGA EuroTour and farther afield.
Charlie Mead
Joined:Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:58 pm
Location:Birmingham, England
International coordinator Report 2015-16

Post by Charlie Mead » Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:47 pm

To All BDGA members and users of the Forum. Please find my report for 2015-16 below. I am posting this now with the approval of the Board so that it can be read and discussed before the AGM - especially those of you who cannot make the meeting itself. I look forward to a lively debate!
This has also been posted on the AGM thread under General Disc Golf Matters.

BDGA International Coordinator - Annual Report 2015-16


This year has seen a growth in Disc Golf world wide on both an organisational as well as tournament basis. European countries voted to come out from under the wings of PDGA and be incorporated as PDGA Europe with its own organisational structure, office and first administrator. PDGA itself split from the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) over governance issues but then found itself challenged by the creation of two independent Tours - one World based the other in their backdoor. The European Disc Golf Federation (EDGF) incorporated itself to become the sole owner and organiser of the European Disc Golf Championships (EDGC) but immediately found itself challenged by both the newly formed PDGA Europe and the creation of the WFDF World Team Disc Golf Championships (WTDGC).

On a national basis it was a quieter year. The highlight was the BDGA team of 10 players in 6 divisions who went to EDGC 2016 in Finland. On the Euro Tour Dunbar hosted the Battle of Bluebell Woods again. A handful of players made it to a few events, in Europe, notably Holland and
Czech Republic and it would be good to see more experiencing the challenging courses and players they would face and the experience they would gain from travelling more.

PDGA & PDGA Europe

PDGA is the largest player-representative Disc Golf organisation in the world. Currently it has 28 countries who are affiliated to the organisation. Its membership is made up of individuals who pay individual fees to benefit from the organisational structure that PDGA provides - notably the ratings system. National Disc Golf organisations, including BDGA, affiliate them selves to PDGA on a voluntary basis and usually appoint a PDGA co-ordinator who acts as a conduit for PDGA matters (Tours, events, admin etc) within their national associations and federations. In some countries the PDGA Coordinator only acts on behalf of PDGA players. In some European countries, especially Germany, there are more disc golfers who are not PDGA members and their national associations place more emphasis on their own tours and players rather than PDGA events.

In Europe the picture is highly complex in regards to different models of organisational structure. This is further complicated by national disc golf associations being members of WFDF, or not. There is clearly no one model that works for all and each are doing their best to establish a structure that benefits most of the players in their own countries. This is expanded on in the section on WFDF but as far as PDGA are concerned this is a developing situation in which both USA and Canada are having to consider the creation of their own Disc Golf associations instead of being an umbrella body of PDGA.

PDGA Europe - Organisation
There are currently 24 members countries in PDGA Europe. The largest in terms of PDGA members is Finland with 1,000’s and the smallest countries such as Italy. It is significant that the countries with the most robust organisational structure (links with DG companies/manufacturers for example who provide admin support) like Finland and Estonia are the fastest growing.

At Oulu during EDGC, 21 of the European countries met and voted to become an organisational entity (PDGA Europe) largely separate from PDGA. This has given it autonomy regarding EuroTour events, scheduling, registration, ratings and discipline. Hans Nagtegaal was appointed as the interim administrator and PDGA Europe office will be in the Netherlands for the time being. PDGA will still have input into European decisions for a number of years but it is planned that this should develop into a fully autonomous organisation over time.

PDGA Europe - Euro Tours 2017
From next year the Euro Tour will be split into two different Tours.
The Euro Pro Tour - for major events with only MPO and FPO divisions - all A tier.
The Euro Tour - for all other events with all Divisions offered, including Amateurs, for A and B Tour events; much as it was up to 2015.

Application for inclusion on the Tours closed on September 30th 2016 and it is anticipated that the Tour will be made public in late October. At this time both Dunbar and Mull have made applications to be included on next years Euro Tour.


WFDF is the largest national member organisation for flying disc sports worldwide. It currently has 65 nations and three other multi-national organisations as members. It is a full member of the International Olympic Committee and also a member of SportAccord, the organisation that represents all governing bodies for all sports world wide. Both IOC and SportAccord membership gives all disc sports representation at Olympic games, World games and all multi-sport and multi-national events such as World masters Games and World beach games formats.

Relationship with PDGA

Disc Golf has not been fully represented within the WFDF structure nor within national associations who are members of WFDF, nor is the representation that has happened been consistent. One reason for this has been the disagreement between PDGA and WFDF as to who represents Disc Golf on a world level. The Disc Golf Committee of WFDF has been dominated by PDGA officials over the past 20 years and this disagreement has created a sense of stasis. Neither organisations have a clear idea of the status of many of their members for example. This conflict led to PDGA withdrawing its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with WFDF in January 2016. The process of re-building this relationship is currently taking place through the restructuring of the Disc Golf Committee though the main point of contention remains and may well need considerable compromise on both parts to achieve the aims of both organisations.

Disc Golf Committee
In January 2016 I was asked to take over the Disc Golf Committee at WFDF. As a previous President and also Chair of the Ultimate Committee from 1995-2002 I felt privileged to be asked to join the Board and contribute to the development of all flying disc sports and especially Disc Golf.
Since January most of my WFDF time has been working with all WFDF members in identifying how each disc golf association is linked into their WFDF members in their country. Once this is established I and the WFDF Board can help each National DG association access development funds and opportunities through WFDF membership of IOC and SprtAccord. This has proved both difficult and enlightening. Some countries, such as Sweden, have an integrated flying disc federation which represents all 10 flying disc sports. Other countries, like GB at present, have a separate DGA - not linked to its country’s membership of WFDF. It is the aim of both WFDF and PDGA to help all countries integrate and gain the best advantage possible in all development opportunities.

USA and Canada - membership of WFDF
Neither USA nor Canada have a national disc golf association. As such they are currently disadvantaged as they do not have access to WFDF membership, nor to many government sources of funding in their own countries. The PDGA is developing a programme that will allow the creation of separate USA and Canadian DGA’s to put this situation in line with all other national members of WFDF and PDGA itself. It will be interesting to see what comes of this development over time, especially with the creation of PDGA Europe and other cross continental disc golf collaborations.

WFDF Tournaments
WFDF have begun to establish World Disc Golf Championships for their member countries. The first of these events started this year with the 2016 WFDF World Team Disc Golf Championships (WTDGC). Six countries took part in Vancouver and the inaugural event was won by USA. Teams were made up of 4 players from Open, Masters and Women Pro divisions in a match play and stroke play format.

In 2017 WTDGC will be held in Europe, probably in the UK, which will increase the number of countries to 24. Teams will also increase in size to 6 with an option of adding two further players as substitutes or alternates. To enter they event all countries must be members of WFDF and all players PDGA members. The event will be organised in conjunction with PDGA and DGA who also sponsored the 2016 Vancouver event. This event will take part every two years - in opposite years to EDGC. As it grows it is planned that there will be separate WTDGC’s for Open Men and Women, Masters age, Juniors and Amateurs. At this time selection for WFDF National Federation Teams is recommended to be by PDGA Rating for those available to compete.

Also in 2017, Berks and Reading Disc Golf Club will host the 2017 WFDF World Freestyle and Overall Championships in the last week of July, with Robb Hamilton as the TD. The Overall Championships are much like a heptathlon where athletes compete in all divisions over the seven field and overall events. These are Accuracy, Distance, Double Disc Court, Discathon, Disc Golf, Freestyle and Self Caught Flight. SCF is made up of 2 sub events - Maximum Time Aloft and Throw, Run and Catch. All rules and competition format for these events can be found on the WFDF website.

There will also be medals awarded for top three in each individual event in the appropriate division for those players. As with all WFDF events there will be no prize money offered, just the honour of representing one’s country.

European Disc Golf Championships 2016 - Oulu Finland.

For a detailed review of this event and all the scores for the GB Team please refer to the relevant BDGA Newsletter and check the web links. This section of the report focusses on some of the organisational aspects and what may happen in future years.

During EDGC 2016 meetings between European Disc Golf Federation members (which does not include BDGA) and PDGA country coordinators, established the organisational aspects of this event going into 2018. EDGF is chaired by Paul Francz from Switzerland and there is an EDGC sub committee that decides on bids and organisational aspects of the event. This is the only event that EDGF runs and has any control over at this time. However, its status was challenged by a number of other European PDGA affiliate members and it is likely that there will be some considerable changes made to the EDGC format by 2018. The most likely outcome will be the end of the Nations Cup as the WFDF WTDGC event becomes more dominant. The reason this is likely to happen is the discrepancy between team numbers at EDGC. Finland had 31 players this year - some other countries like Lithuania only had 3. Whatever system is put in place it is clearly not a level playing field for those countries to compete against each other.

It is likely that the event will become a PDGA Major and focus solely on individual stroke play across all Pro Divisions. Team size is being reviewed and there should be a change that will encourage smaller countries to take part while still rewarding countries with larger PDGA membership. It is also possible that all Masters age divisions (all above 40) will become a separate event - possibly held at the same time and in the same place but on different courses, following the plan of WFDF WTDGC.

BDGA Team Selection.

These changes will affect how BDGA selects its team for both WTDGC and EDGC. It would be unwise to commit to any model of selection at this time though it is likely that both WFDF and PDGA Europe as well as EDGF will recommend that Team selection is based on PDGA Ratings in each Division.

This may not sit well with BDGA who invest considerable time and effort in their Tour and regard the final Tour results as the best means of GB team selection. However, with changes to the Tour structure, the creation of the British Championship and the Nationals there may well be further options, or even difficulties, in deciding on how best to pick the best team to represent GB.

As Captain of the GB Team this year I believe we took the strongest team we had to Finland. This was mainly because all players who topped their Division on Tour were willing and able to Travel. The only player who decided not to go was Sue Underwood in the new FMP division which was a shame as she would have done well I am sure. Yet despite this strength only Derek and I finished in the top 5 in our divisions and I was the only one to medal.

I think it is fair to say that we were not prepared enough to take on the best of Europe in the most demanding of weather on a challenging course. I have listened to a lot of debate as to why this might be and I would judge the following to be the main factors:
• BDGA Tour courses are not challenging enough compared to those in Europe - there needs to be a recognition of what these differences may look like and most BDGA Tour TD’s have never or rarely played in Europe at the highest level. All TD’s and course owners would benefit from professional advice about how to make their courses more challenging - maybe from Course Designers in Europe and USA.
• Only three of the team in Finland had competed in 3 or more EDGC’s before Oulu - myself, Derek and James. Without this experience it was important for the rest of the team to take advice from the more experienced players - this was not built into the composition or plans of the team.
• Players needed to practice a lot more than they did - especially putting
• The team needed specialist coaching, training and camps to know how to develop specific throws and strategies in a European context.
• Any BDGA Team needs to be clear what their responsibilities are towards training, organisational aspects and team unity before they are selected and the team announced. This may well mean a contract between BDGA and each player as in many of the larger DG countries in Europe, especially Finland, Germany and Estonia.
• Any BDGA Team should expect support from the BDGA Board within the roles they occupy - for example help for all players on a local media level to help team members raise sponsorship for their trip.

Captain selection criteria

I was privileged to be Captain of the GB Team in Oulu and felt we had at least one of the best kits of all teams in the event! However, that should not be the main part of the Captaincy role. That could have been done by a Team manager. Having said which the sponsorship received from Disc Zoo and DGA helped reduce most of the teams individual costs and was welcome in the overall delivery of the way the team presented itself.

The most important role of captain was making sure that all the players knew what they had to do, when they had to play and that they were supported by other team members when they were playing. It was also important to set a standard of behaviour on and off the course and have that acknowledged by other teams and their Captains as a mark of respect for the game and the event. The whole team achieved this and it was commented on positively by the EDGC TD and the PDGA International coordinator as well as experienced players and Captains from other teams.

However, it is worth asking what the role of the BDGA GB Team Captain should be and what they should do both prior to and during any event where a BDGA Team is playing. A Captain should be able to command respect from Team members and part of that should be in the selection process of the team itself as well as how that team is then best prepared to take on the best players in Europe and the World in the upcoming WTDGC in 2017. I would argue that any Captain requires the following:
• Considerable experience in playing at the top level of European and World disc golf
• The ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the team and provide technical coaching and support to improve their game
• Encouraging every member of the team to play for their country and each other. It is proven that those who might feel nervous (and therefore play less well) play better if they have a reason or cause beyond their own to focus on.
• To encourage, inspire and motivate all members of the team to play to their ability and better.
• To be able to articulate to more as well as less experienced players the need for practice and following training regimes to improve their game.

Finally, I would argue that continuity of Captaincy is important. Changing Captains on some form of rotational basis will not allow the points above to be achieved. I would further recommend that BDGA appoint a Team Manager to oversee the organisational aspects of Team GB and allow the Captain to focus on developing the playing skills of the team.

Future developments and recommendations.

For the coming year, on the International level, I would make the following recommendations to the the BDGA Board.

• To ensure that BDGA join WFDF as a full member through the GB WFDF member UKU. To approach UKU to see if shared opportunities can be developed by cooperation between the two organisations.
• To continue to develop the PDGA Europe project in collaboration with all European PDGA members through the GB PDGA country coordinator
• To establish criteria for the selection of BDGA GB Team Disc Golf that takes into account the upcoming WTDGC and 2018 EDGC.
• To ensure that every member of a BDGA team recognises the privilege of playing for their country.
• To clarify the position of individual players who represent BDGA GB Team disc golf in a contractual form that ties them to the wishes of the BDGA Board and the expectation of sponsors
• To establish criteria for the selection of a Team manager and Captain of BDGA GB Team disc golf.
• To establish commercial links with any and all companies and individuals, foundations and departments that could support the whole structure of BDGA or one aspect of their international work - especially as a member of WFDF.

Charlie Mead
BDGA International Coordinator 2015-16.
Charlie Mead
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