The World Curling Federation and a variety of stakeholders from the curling community gathered together in January 2023 for an Ideation Seminar, with the intention of developing “Big Ideas” that the Federation would investigate for the future of the organisation and the sport.
Ideation Seminar Overview
The Ideation Seminar took place over two days in Toronto and featured the World Curling Federation Board, senior staff members, and stakeholders from the sport, including Jill Officer and Tyler George from the Athlete’s Commission and elite athletes Agnes Knochenhauer, Matt Dunstone and Ray Hussain, as well as representatives from broadcast partners Sportsnet and TSN in attendance.
The group received presentations from a range of speakers from the world of sport on a number of topics then distilled those two days of discussion to six “Big Ideas” for the Federation with the underlying question, “What does a modern World Curling Federation look like?”
Beau Welling, President of the World Curling Federation said, “As a Federation, we’re looking to modernise and be collaborative with our stakeholders. That thought was a driving factor in creating this Ideation Seminar and bringing this group of people from all aspects of our sport together.
“Having this collective all in one room, providing their expertise on their particular aspect of our sport is invaluable to us and them. Not only do they get to help us shape the future of the sport, they also get a better understanding of all the work happening behind the scenes that they would normally never know about. Removing that barrier brings our sport even closer together as a community.
“It was a fantastic two days where everyone came together to look selflessly at what was best for the sport over the long run. This is just the beginning of the process, our engagement with all of our stakeholders will be ongoing so that as many people as possible can share their input about the sport. The ideas that came out of that room and future rooms like it, will help us shape how we do things in the Federation for years to come.”
The Six Big Ideas
The six ideas generated during the Ideation Seminars were:
It was universally agreed that an updated brand for the Federation which showcases a modern, vibrant sport was vitally important. This refresh is about more than a new logo, it is about what the brand says about the sport and how we want to describe the sport to the wider world.
It was agreed that this idea was fundamental to the approach that would be taken to all the other ideas and that it would need to be addressed immediately. In order to do this, a proposal document was created and sent to a number of branding agencies in order for them to pitch the Federation. In March 2023 an agency was engaged to conduct the brand refresh and further details on this partnership will be announced in due course.
Athletes, Events and Calendar
A significant set of requirements for the future of the sport is to develop a coherent calendar of events for our athletes, provide education and support for the athletes and extend and strengthen the role of the Athlete Commission.
In order to facilitate this project, the Federation have committed to employing a full time Athlete Support Officer who will work directly with the Athlete Commission.
Plans are being developed to create an Athlete Licensing System to ensures all athletes competing at the elite level are given the educational support they need to meet the responsibilities of competing at the elite level.
It was also decided that an Event Licensing System should be created to ensure athletes and events have a clear understanding of what the expectations are required for events at different levels.
Finally, this project includes the intention to review the competition calendar and ranking systems in other sports, in particular the system used by the International Tennis Federation, to assess how a similar system could be adopted in curling.
This project will be developed over a number of years with the initial intention of having a calendar revamp in place for the season following the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
The aim of incorporating commercial development is to diversify the income streams of the World Curling Federation and provide additional new sources of revenue to be invested in the sport.
The first stage in this project is to hire a full-time Business Development Manager for the Federation.
The position will work to create commercial partnerships with existing and new partners, while also developing the World Curling Family concept, which is a membership platform aimed at adding a providing value for curlers and fans worldwide.
It was agreed that the Federation should develop a network of facilities across the world that are owned, operated, or run in partnership with the World Curling Federation.
These facilities would allow the Federation to create accredited International Training Centres and Centres of Excellence.
The initial stage of this project will see the Federation work with the World Academy of Sport to develop their facility fund and build the concept of ‘Sustainable Venue Solutions’ within curling.
One clear topic that came from the Ideation Seminar was that the Federation was required to ensure a world leading system of interaction with Members and Stakeholders was implemented.
It was agreed that in order to improve the engagement from the Federation, surveying our existing Member Associations to assess the current practices was an important first step. This would then become regular interactions with our members in smaller groups, led by Board members.
It was also agreed that in order to fully engage with all curlers it was important to widen the scope of the athletes covered by the Athlete Commission, which would in turn strengthen its role within the Federation and the sport.
In the modern era, data is fundamental. Whether that is to enhance curling through the fan experience or improving the efficiency of the Federation.
It was agreed while curling creates a significant volume of useful and interesting data, it was not being used in ways that improve the sport. In order to change this, a Data Management Group is being created by the Federation to evaluate and oversee the project.
The first stage of this project is to review all of the data currently used by the Federation, including the systems in place for existing storage and access.
Once that review has been completed, the intention is then to develop comprehensive IT and data strategies for the Federation that assess options to allow the cascading of systems to Member Associations, ensuring full compatibility and ability for systems to share information and streamline workflows.
This cascading would also come with the benefit of allowing the smaller Member Associations a consistent platform to help grow and develop the sport in their country without the need to develop everything themselves.
Looking to the Future
The Federation is committed to make the investment in the future of the organisation and the sport.
This Ideation Seminar was designed to bring together the Board and a variety of stakeholders to discuss what they felt were the most pressing issues within the sport.
After a successful two days where a range of voices were heard, the discussions were distilled into these six “Big Ideas” that the Board will take forward and invest in to help deliver the aims of the Forward Plan.
These projects are not intended to be short-term solutions. Instead, with investment and engagement from the curling community, they will become a solid foundation that our sport can grow and develop from for many years to come.
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