September 17, 2008

President’s Report

This year has been an exciting one for CAFA with new faces on the board. We had a successful election which filled all five positions on the board and we were able to meet several times

CAFA Hosted 5 competitions this year, including 2 Western Regional competitions; 1 indoor and one outdoor, 1 Eastern Indoor competition , the National Championships held in Vancouver and the PFI Open Competition, co-hosted with the USAA and PFI, in the Cayman Islands.

Attendance at these competitions was good and there appears to be a renewed interest in competitive freediving.

The Eastern competition was a particular success in that it was the first competition attended by divers from Quebec. This allowed for some real bridge building to take place between the eastern clubs of Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, with some very interesting ideas exchanged.

CAFA attended the AIDA Team World Championships in Egypt this summer with a full team of four women and four men. The National Team had a lot of new faces on board and overall, performances were good given that this was the first time competing for some of the athletes. The team did experience some unfortunate setbacks with three disqualifications. The women finished 8th overall while the men finished 17th. The team looked sharp in their sponsored suits, provided by PFI and Oceaner and initial reports tell me the team worked very well together this year.

This year, CAFA has attempted to shift its focus from competition and come up with ways to welcome the recreational freediver. This has been addressed with some new initiatives including a change to the memberships structure to include a free recreational membership for those who are not interested in competing but with to be involved with the community. This membership includes access to the newsgroup allowing recreational members to have their finger on the pulse of freediving in Canada. A full CAFA membership which includes access CAFA competitions, the AIDA ranking list and voting rights is still $25.

CAFA has also created new benefits for freediving clubs that wish to register themselves with CAFA, including free web space, emails and financial assistance for events or activities that will help grow the sport of freediving within Canada, but perhaps most importantly, the Donate button has been added to the Freedive Canada website!

Also, CAFA has made gains on translating the website into French and a beta version of the translated pages is available for viewing. This is an enormous project and will take some time to complete but this monumental effort will go a long way to making CAFA a truly national organization. As it stands, most official announcements that I have made as president that relate to important business have been posted in both official languages on the newsgroup.

CAFA must continue to make changes to how it operates if we are to stay relevant to our community. Currently, we have several disgruntled people who have left CAFA over the last few years and some of those people are in the process of trying to form a new national association called AIDA Canada. This should not be taken lightly. Some issues have already been addressed; however CAFA will need to act quickly on several issues in order to deal with this serious concern. Already, outside of the core group of competitive freedivers, there has been very little activity on the newsgroup over the last couple of years and this is very disconcerting. The new board will have to actively work on creating a true ‘benefit of membership’ if we are to lure old members back. CAFA must work hard to involve everyone in effecting this change or we risk becoming irrelevant. Unfortunately, those individuals who have chosen to go this route feel it is easier to create a new association rather than effect change from within. This is unfortunate because it should not be the case, and in reality it is not. The board needs to be much more aggressive, inclusive and positive in how we generate relevance to our members and this may include making some hard decisions on how we operate.

This issue aside, I think CAFA is slowly moving in the right direction. We are seeing new members joining both as full paid members and as recreational members. CAFA will need to work hard to maintain those new members. It will have to work even harder to bring back those that have left either out of discontent or simple apathy, which some would argue is even worse.

Matt Charlton
President; Canadian Association of Freediving and Apnea

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