President's Update - 10th NOV 2014


JFA Inc. Presidents Report November 2014

As 2014 draws to a conclusion I would like to reflect on the enormous changes the JFA has undertaken since my appointment, to position our sport for development and growth in the future. My hope is that member states and territories will leave this year’s AGM and the associated schedule of events with a much better understanding of the challenges faced over the past year as well as appreciate the incredible work completed by the directors and committees, on so many levels, to position Judo for continued growth and development in the future. I look forward to working with you. I list below some keys activities, with further explanation for your information.

Key activity included:

a)    A major staffing restructure due to the retirement of Gail Galea and Peter Herrmann.  
b)   The appointment of a CEO.
c)   Relocating our national office to the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra.
d)   The undertaking of a whole of sport review, supported by the Australian Sports Commission.
e)   The undertaking of a Governance review under the direction of Gil Tidhar, Daryl Payne & Richard Sharpe.
f)   The undertaking of a High Performance Program Review to align the JFA HP Program with the ASC “Winning Edge Strategy”.
g)   Expanding Judo’s activity and resources via the AIS Combat Centre initiative.
h)   Strengthening member protection policy and processes for the benefit of all.
j)   Looking for solutions to our members growing insurance claims history.
k)   Adding an international Judo competition, the Oceania Judo Union Continental Open, to complement our excellent National Championship competition schedule.

a) Staffing Restructure.

With the retirement of Gail Galea at the end of 2013 and then Peter Herrmann, mid 2014 came the challenge of how to replace such vast experience and still steer the JFA forward amid a significant shift in ASC policy.  Dennis Iverson accepted the transfer of duties to the National Administrator (NA) role and acknowledgment must be given to Dennis for his multi-faceted capacity to work in many JFA roles simultaneously and successfully. He ably supported the appointment of Toshi Nakamura in to the National Development Coach/Coordinator position (NDCC). Dennis also worked with both Gail and Peter so that he could smoothly move in to the NA role. He was also selected by the NCC to coach the Commonwealth Games Judo team in Glasgow. Thank you, Dennis for your significant work, in many roles throughout this year to enable this transition to happen.

Many would remember the presentations to both Gail & Peter at the national championships in Wollongong and we wish both Peter and Gail all the very best for the future.



Toshi Nakamura as the National Development Coach/Coordinator (NDCC) has successfully run a number of well-received training camps at the AIS Combat Centre and is settling into developing programs for our young athletes around the country.


b) CEO appointment.

In September the JFA made the most significant shift with the, now well publicised, appointment of Paula Ward to the newly created position of JFA CEO. I’d like to thank James Ceely (ASC) and Andrew Pratley (AIS) for their strong support in establishing this position for Judo.

With Paula's appointment the aim will be to work with our major stakeholders, that being the State/Territory bodies and the ASC to achieve strategic plan targets. This appointment will also help the Board to act as Directors, alleviating the demands the Board have faced dealing with the many day to day issues and deadlines.

We welcome Paula to the JFA team and look forward to working with her in the future.



c) National office relocation.

Coinciding with Paula’s arrival the JFA have committed to the relocation at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and closing down the long standing Sydney office. This move has allowed us to stay directly in touch with the important developments that are taking place with the exciting Combat Centre beautifully presented at the Australian Institute of Sport. The office is also very well appointed with technology and furniture and will allow for flexible operations in the future.

The office is alongside the boxing administration team, and in close proximity, and contact with the Australian Sports Commission staff responsible for assisting Judo achieve the Australian Winning Edge targets announced back in 2013.


d) JFA relations with the Australian Sports Commission

It would be fair to say that by the end of 2013 the JFA was struggling to meet the expectations of the ASC on many fronts. The result of this was delayed funding and a distinct possibility of a reduced monetary allocation for 2014/15. With a shift in JFA Board dynamics and a concentrated effort by all, it is significant to say that 2014 ended up with some very positive signs for the JFA. Funding was granted for the coming year at the current level (where many sports had a reduction) and an added one off payment of $100,000.00 was granted to assist with development on many fronts. We are very grateful to ASC member Andrew Pratley for his assistance and support during this trying year.


e) JFA Review.

This year all directors have worked in conjunction with the ASC representatives, who were commissioned by the JFA Governance Committee, to review all aspects of JFA operations. Some of you may remember the opportunity to meet and discuss JFA operations to feedback in to this process. The JFA are looking forward to receiving information and recommendations to support the development and growth of Judo. It has been a pleasure to work with both James Ceely and Nick Holland as this process came to a close and I thank them for their work to help Judo better support itself for the future.


f) JFA Governance Committee Review.

In April of this year the Governance Committee went through a restructure appointing Gil Tidhar as Chairman. Not long after Richard Sharpe was added to the committee to assist Gil and long standing member, Daryl Payne to make up this pivotal independent committee. Thanks also to former Chairman Paul Nelson for his input along the way.

Since this restructure the Governance Committee has been responsible for many changes to JFA Policies and By-Laws. The Governance Committee has undertaken a mountain of work to ensure the policies and processes of the JFA are in line and support best practise in terms of compliance to our constitution and supporting documentation. This is a huge task in an ever-changing environment.

The Governance Committee has also represented the JFA in the ASC review process to discuss matters in a collaboratively beneficial way for both parties.

On behalf of us all I thank these 3 gents for their excellent work this year.

In the future the Governance Committee will continue to liaise with the ASC Governance department and act in an advisory capacity as required with appropriate JFA Board matters.


g) JFA High Performance Review.

Similarly, the board has undertaken a timely review of our high performance program, given the introduction of the AWE strategy. This started on 31 August 2014 with a workshop facilitated by the well respected Ken Norris, recommended by the AIS, at the Sydney office and included JFA staff and NCC representation. Given that we now have a CEO, Paula will oversee the delivery of this review, with the aim of implementation to be 1 January 2015.

I would like to thank Fiona Iredale for her significant work and expertise in this area and guiding this process over the past few months.



h) Combat Centre Initiative

This initiative continues to offer great benefits for Judo.

You will notice when you visit the continued upgrade of facilities, particularly the new mat area in excess of 700m2. The look and feel of this centre is very motivating for our next generation of athletes. Also, this year the Combat Centre Camp implemented a performance based selection, for a four-week period that included tours to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Macau. Selected junior Judo athletes benefited from a pre-staging preparation period including psychological, injury & weight management opportunities. Basically, athletes were given the very best preparation opportunities to represent us at the international events. All athletes performed admirably and the results are very encouraging for the future.



However, the absolute highlight for the Combat Centre in 2014 was the Australia/Japan training camp held in September - October. It was special, primarily due to the fact it was a first time visit of an Olympic gold medallist in a combat sport to the AIS. Mr. Kosei Inoue, Sydney Olympic 2000 winner made a supreme effort to fulfil his commitment to this camp by dragging himself out of a hospital bed in Asia, against medical advice. He gave a terrific clinic to all, by demonstrating his famous techniques for almost 1.5 hours on the second day of his stay. He then departed almost as quickly as he came, with his fellow travelling partner, Mr Kimura of the Japanese Sports Council back to another commitment back in Japan.



Another detail that made this camp very significant was the participation of the Japanese judo team who enthusiastically took part in the physical testing that always accompanies camps held at the Combat Centre. Some of this data will be of great assistance to our sports science team when evaluating the Australian athletes in their preparation for the future.

The JFA would like to thank our Japanese guests for their openness and enthusiasm during this stay and the Combat Centre staff, especially Dave Martin and Clare Humberstone for this experience.


i) Commonwealth Games 2014

Once again the JFA would like to congratulate the team that competed to the best of their ability in Glasgow 2014. In particular the youth of the team that secured bronze medal-winning performances. They were Chloe Rayner 48kg, Amy Meyer 48kgs and Jake Bensted 73kgs. Jake Andrewartha also won a bronze in the O/100kgs division  

I also acknowledge the management team of Midge Hill, Dennis Iverson, Toshi Nakamura and Kylie Koenig.


j) Member Protection Update.

Appreciation must be given to the JFA Treasurer, Nick Papadimitropoulos, who was also thrown in the deep end early this year when he accepted the JFA Member Protection Investigation Officer role. Member protection has caused the JFA many internal and financial strains in 2014. Nick was right in the forefront of it all and handled it with complete professionalism, in the best interests of members and the JFA Inc.

This year has been a watershed moment for the JFA in its approach to representative team behaviour. A zero tolerance to poor behaviour has seen a number of athletes fined, or given warnings, for comments posted online or because of poor conduct. Officials were also treated in the same manner where a coach was found in breach and issued a suspension from the JFA for a significant period.

Our post AGM schedule will include an opportunity for us all to discuss and co-ordinate strategies to ensure MPP matters are dealt with in a timely and appropriate matter.


l) Insurance and National Database.

Insurance claims by members have risen sharply over the previous 18 months with the obvious knock on effects to our 2014-2015 policies. During the recent NSW AGM it was made apparent that there are many anomalies with the current structure of the JFA Insurance policy. The JFA are very keen hear the views of the States and Territories in order to see if a National Insurance scheme is still viable. Please note, this will be a hotly discussed topic at the upcoming AGM weekend so be prepared for a lively debate.

Also, the IMG National Member Database contract is coming up for renewal in first half of 2015.  The Board is mindful that there has been mixed support for the current system. Given the fact that the ASC is strongly recommending the JFA finalize a strategy to implement a system where all States/Territories are onboard. Time and expertise will to be provided to the meeting on the AGM weekend so a final solution can be decided on. I look forward to your practical input at this workshop.   


m) OJU Continental Open.

The first International event since the Sydney Olympics is now almost ready to go. The OJU Continental Open will be hosted in Wollongong on 14-15 November 2014. Tournament organizer, Luis Val has indicated that he is more than pleased with the entries, which includes over 20 countries and up to 200 competitors. Countries participating are of the calibre of Canada and Korea and we even have competitors from South America heading our way.

I encourage all of our judo enthusiasts to get to this event, as it will be displaying some high quality judo matches.

The JFA Inc. would once again like to thank the City of Wollongong for the support they have generously committed to assist with hosting this event and especially the hard working team headed by Stuart Barnes at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

So, in summary, the review of 2014 spells out a busy year and one that I hope moves the JFA to the threshold of a new era. With these changes there have been many times when the Board has shown courage of conviction and substantial strength to prevail through the tough decisions that had to be made.

I believe the JFA Board in 2014 has done just that on every occasion.

In conclusion I, and the JFA Inc. Director's would like to personally thank Stewart Brain who was JFA Inc. Secretary from 2006-2014. The volume of work he generated for the JFA, and his capacity to take on extra tasks without consideration have rarely been seen in JFA history.


Yours in Judo,

Michael Picken
President, JFA Inc.