SDB give sports a code of conduct
By NAZVI CAREEM
THE Sports Development Board have drawn up an 11-point code of conduct for the territory's governing bodies to ensure the proper management of taxpayers' money.
The statutory code, which will come into effect on April 1, provides national sports associations with guidelines on how to conduct their activities fairly.
However, the SDB denies that the move was initiated because of the recent behaviour of some sports bodies, notably cycling and judo, for whom some of the guidelines seem highly pertinent.
Howard Wells, SDB executive director, said the board were not trying to flex their law-making muscles but were simply offering ways of improving the overall management of Hongkong sport, as set out in the board's 1991 four-year strategic plan.
''We have been working on this for the last couple of years,'' said Wells. ''It has nothing to do with what has happened in the last year.
''The SDB are not looking to punish associations or to be seen to wield a heavy hand.
''The SDB was set up with a clear function and we have to be responsible and accountable to the way public money is spent.
''The name of the game is accountability and that applies to the associations and to the SDB as well.'' The judo hierarchy has come under scrutiny following a number of press articles, as well as recent television coverage suggesting that some top members owe their power and standing within the body to unfair practices.
And the cycling association came under fire for their handling of Hongkong's Olympic training squad in France last summer.
The coach and leading rider quit the team, a fight broke out between two cyclists and the association were eventually forced to withdraw the squad from the Olympics.
The SDB later demanded that the cycling association return money spent on the ill-fated trip.
But Wells stressed that the code was not aimed at any particular association and that the SDB appreciated the governing bodies' need for as much autonomy as possible.
''National Sports Associations are set up to run autonomously, under their own rules and regulations and supported by their respective international federations.
''Our job is simply to help improve the workings of the associations and this code is aimed exactly at that.'' Wells would not specify what powers the SDB would have to react to any association that breached the spirit of the code.
''If there are problems and we are not happy, then we will talk to the association and see what can be done about it.
''It is understood that someone must take responsibility. The SDB accepting responsibility goes beyond just giving out cash but making sure that public money is spent properly.'' Wells said most associations in Hongkong conducted themselves with integrity.
The code was submitted to A. de O. Sales, president of the Hongkong Amateur Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, for his comments before being released.
As part of a drive to improve the running of associations, the SDB are pumping $10 million into the territory's administrative structure.
The scheme is aimed at creating specialised positions in associations, with salary scales to match qualifications and administrative skills, and avoiding losing top-level sports technicians to other professions.
''Now, we provide subvention to associations, but we want to change that into salaries. It's the best way of encouraging people to stay in sport,'' said Wells, who stressed that the money was not extra cash but the SDB's regular annual input towards administration within associations.
''The people involved in sport must have a strong professional sense,'' said Wells who added that a high-ranking sports official could stand to make about $30,000 a month.
The SDB hope that a better structure, where jobs within associations are more clearly defined, will encourage a more businesslike approach.
This, in turn, should lead to stronger and more effective associations.
THE GUIDELINES 1: Every national sports association (NSA) in receipt of Sports Development Board (SDB) funding must represent the majority of participants in the sport, and membership must be open to any club or person with an interest in that sport.
2: In the case of NSAs, that body must be paid-up and in good standing with its international federation and affiliated to the Amateur Sport