The Better Boards, Stronger Sport (BBSS) governance project meeting was hosted by Just Sport Ireland (JSI) and the Irish Sports Council (ISC) in Dublin on the 31st January and 1st February.

The BBSS project and ‘toolkit’ is a European Commission funded project, led by the UK Sport and Recreation Alliance, aimed at ‘promoting innovative approaches to strengthen the organisation of sport in Europe’ as part of the EU funding for Preparatory Action 2011 in the Field of Sport. The BBSS ‘toolkit’ which will be produced at the end of the project aims to help national governing bodies of sport improve their governance and will help sports organisations become more effective.

Dublin was the fourth (and penultimate) project meeting host with representatives from five different EU countries attending including the UK, Ireland, Poland, Estonia and Finland. The eight sporting bodies represented were; the UK Sport and Recreation Alliance, JSI, the ISC, the Polish Ministry of Sport and Tourism, the Estonian Olympic Committee the Finnish Sports Federation, European Women in Sport, European Athlete as Student as well as researchers from Birkbeck, University of London who are collating and editing the text.

Each country provided a number of governance case studies, from which ten shall be used, and Ireland provided detailed case studies from Cricket Ireland, Triathlon Ireland, Special Olympics Ireland and Paralympics Ireland. The purpose of the meeting was to review and edit the case study design, and for each country to present the tools for implementing each of the ten ‘features’ of good governance identified:


–       Feature 1: Act in the best interest of the sport

–       Feature 2: Define the role of the Board and evaluate their performance

–       Feature 3: Establish a balanced competency based Board

–       Feature 4: Set the vision and mission and provide leadership on the strategy

–       Feature 5: Establish effective controls

–       Feature 6: Act with transparency and be accountable to stakeholders

–       Feature 7: Engage with sporting and non-sporting bodies

–       Feature 8: Work as a team

–       Feature 9: Focus on membership

–       Feature 10: Promote good governance throughout the sport


JSI presented on Features 2 and 10; the different ‘role descriptions’ for board members and the importance of ‘succession planning’, whilst the ISC presented on Feature 9; ‘membership strategy’. The discussion highlighted the importance of the Chairman/CEO role for the effective running of a sporting organisation and it was felt more emphasis needed to be put around this relationship. It was felt also that as much importance should be placed on membership retention as membership growth and information about how to implement this will be included in the final ‘toolkit’.

The final group meeting shall take place in Helsinki on the 9th and 10th of May at which the completed ‘toolkit’ will be agreed for publishing. JSI and the ISC shall then publicise and make available the ‘toolkit’ to NGBs thereafter. Further information on the Better Boards, Stronger Sport project can be found on the UK Sport and Recreation Alliance’s website: