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Ian Elliot resigns and Swim England take over the Water Polo Management Group -

On behalf of the community we would like to extend our grateful thanks to Ian Elliot, the Chair of Swim England’s Water Polo Management Group for the last 5 years. Ian has worked tirelessly to serve the water polo community and has been a unifying leader of water polo in England and Great Britain, but has finally had enough of Swim England’s mismanagement of our sport, and announces his resignation today.

Read Ian’s resignation letter addressed to Jane Nickerson, Swim England’s CEO below, to find out his reasons for leaving

“Dear Jane,

Following acceptance with immediate effect of my verbal resignation of my role as Chair of the Swim England Water Polo Management Group by Neil Booth (Chair Swim England Sports Operation Committee) and George Wood (Sport Development Director) yesterday, I am taking this opportunity to advise you of the reasoning behind why I feel it is now right for me to leave this role.  As my resignation has implications for the leadership of the whole sport, it is a decision that I will also be sharing with the community.

After more than 4 years in post, it is clear to me that the recommendations for the sport of water polo made by Neil Tunnicliffe in January 2015, and publicly endorsed by Swim England at that time, will never be realised to a satisfactory level under the leadership and governance model offered by Swim England.

It is my settled view that Swim England has shown a lack of vision and ambition for water polo, and its lack of meaningful ownership and support for the sport has consistently undermined the efforts of the Water Polo Management Group since early 2015, and has denied the Group the opportunity of delivering a meaningful future for the sport.

Despite the difficulties experienced by all of the volunteer members of the Water Polo Management Group and the many volunteers within the community who have continually supported the group and all aspects of water polo management, I am nevertheless very proud of their efforts and pleased to note that much (but not enough) has been achieved over the last four year including:

  • Partnership with Manchester City Council
  • Partnership with ESSA
  • Coach Development qualifications
  • Hosting of international events
  • Resurrection of senior men’s and women’s teams
  • Entry of senior teams in World Events
  • Entry of England Junior and Senior Teams into EU competitions

Unfortunately, these achievements leave many aspects of the sport partially or completely un-addressed.

It is clear to me there is a lack of leadership, vision and governance within Swim England in respect of the sport of water polo, and in particular to aspects of the whole sport landscape and stakeholders’ needs, coupled with poor management, delivery and a lack of transparency in all matters.

The sport as a whole needs a strong vision and governance structure at all levels from participation through to meaningful international competition for both senior and junior athletes, and the leadership to deliver mandated and supported by all stakeholders especially Swim England.

Latterly it has become apparent that Swim England regards the Water Polo Management Group, and my role as Chair, as providing a limited advisory function only, with our clearly expressed collective views to be heeded or disregarded by Swim England as it suits Swim England’s purpose.  This is directly contrary to the recommendation of the Tunnicliffe report, and to my understanding of the role of a Management Group. Regrettably I am of the opinion that this disregard by Swim England for the views of leaders of the sport of water polo will not change.

To move forward I am of the opinion that the sport needs to engage in unrestricted open consultation and internal dialogue to identify the best governance structure for the whole sport of water polo to achieve optimum outcomes.  Without this, it is certain that the only outcome will be yet another cycle of planning and failure, and the demise of the sporting dreams of yet another generation of our water polo athletes.

It brings me no joy to walk away from the Water Polo Management Group after the huge commitment to the role I have made in time and personal resources, including financial, which I have been pleased to make  in order to support and develop the sport within Swim England, but I feel no more can, or will, be achieved by my further involvement.

I wish the Swim England appointed interim Chair Ian Mackenzie, the current President of Swim England my best wishes in fulfilling the role in the immediate future.

While I resign from this Swim England post, my commitment to the sport and the stakeholders remains undiminished, and after a further period of reflection I will decide my future direction, and how I may best assist the sport in moving forward.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Elliot”

So what of the future?

Two things are certain; Swim England and the water polo community are now further apart than they have been in living memory, and the overriding view of the polo community is that Swim England has now lost the consent of the community to govern the sport.

Perhaps the recently-installed President of Swim England, Ian MacKenzie, who will now chair Swim England’s Water Polo Management Group will solve the crisis, or perhaps it is time for the sport to adopt a different approach to governance?

We look forward to hearing more from Ian Elliot about alternative ways in which water polo might organise its own affairs now he is free from the dead hand of Swim England.






4 responses to “Ian Elliot resigns and Swim England take over the Water Polo Management Group”

  1. Christine Whittaker says:

    Well said Ian. The whole sport knows how difficult it must have been for you and the rest of the England Water Polo Management group with the current attitude from Swim England. Let’s hope the new President has the integrity that many of his Swim England colleagues lack. Actions always speak louder than words so we will judge him by what actually happens not by what he says.

  2. Carol Wilson says:

    So sorry to read this Ian.. From my memories of you,you would have been 100% committed..

  3. Carol Wilson says:

    So sorry to read this Ian.. From my memories of you,you would have been 100% committed.. swim England should hang their heads in shame.

  4. Martin says:

    Thanks for everything you have done to try to get wterpolo the recognition it dserves for the athletes that spend vast amounts of time trying to get to an international level.

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