Presidents Message

Welcome to the Canadian Tug of War Association’s web site.  Whether or not you’ve visited this site or been involved with CATOWA previously you will find that both are undergoing significant change that we view as improvements.  I encourage you to review both and see for yourself.

Change – While tug of war is an exciting sport with a noble character and a long history, virtually unique in modern sport in those regards, it is still a sport and as such does not exist in a vacuum.  Changes in sport and in society compel those who maintain the viability of their sport to respond to the world around them.  For those who seek to develop and improve their sport such changes present not an obligation to meet but an opportunity to grow.  That’s how the Executive of CATOWA views the challenges we have recently faced and those that lay ahead.  In December of 2004 we charted a new course for our organization and the sport in Canada .  Recent modifications to this web site are just part of that journey.

Bill Scanlon – That was the approach of my predecessor, Bill Scanlon.  Before the United States Congress, retiring General Douglas MacArthur referred to himself as an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.  Though far too humble to be compared to an historical figure, Bill showed the same character and courage of conviction many decades later.  Prior to 2004 my greatest contribution to CATOWA was getting Bill involved in the CATOWA Executive. With his resignation of last year, due to health and family concerns, my goal became the realization of his early vision for this sport in this country.

For those that have known Bill, I’m happy to report that his health is good and his energy as a leader has not been lessened, only redirected to causes closer to home.  I speak for the entire Executive when I wish Bill, his wife Kim and his two daughters all the best.  As for tug of war, Bill left us with a legacy, one we are building upon.

A New Approach – In any endeavour involving people there are two distinct methods of dealing with challenges, management and leadership.  With management, the current state of things is maintained as best as it can be given the challenges and obstacles faced by an organization and the sometimes conflicting agendas of many stakeholders.  As with many groups, that was the reactive approach of CATOWA for much of its relatively short history.  By contrast, with leadership reaction to the current state of things is coupled with proactive efforts, the latter guided by a long-term vision of where an organization wants to be and how they will get there.

Choosing leadership over management, a bold future over the status quo, is not easy.  It requires bold, decisive action coupled with resolve in the face of challenges and doubts.   Above all, it requires effective communication so that those who are with you will follow you and contribute while others not initially with you will see that collective effort and join it as well.  Those requirements are the driving force behind this new face of CATOWA.

New Name and Commissions- Starting with the basics, we have renamed our organization, dropping the word Amateur from our name to simplify it in the realization that all tug of war is amateur and the former name was therefore redundant.  We have also made some changes to the make up of the Executive, streamlining the functions of several positions and adding people in supporting capacities, thereby ensuring that those within the Executive have the support and structure they need to get things done instead of just meeting to talk about that.

Communications and the Web Site – Malcolm Montieth’s role within the Executive has been changed from the Newsletter Editor to the Director of Communications, responsible for our overall communications strategy.  Dennis DeWetering, who formerly occupied a different post under that title, has become our Webmaster, a vital role that forms a significant part of our communications strategy.

Official Languages – In 2003 we created a Commission for Official Languages to reach Francophone communities in Canada .  Under the leadership of Chantal Ledu we are in the process of offering almost all our material in both official languages as just one step of embracing current and potential tug of war participants in Quebec, New Brunswick and anywhere that Canadian’s prefer to speak French.  As with many of our recent and future decisions, it is not only something that Federal authorities such as Sport Canada like to see, it is the right decision and the smart one; tug of war has existed in Quebec and New Brunswick for a long time and the people in those areas must be welcomed into the Canadian fold with sincere actions, not the vague promise of future actions.

Under Represented Groups – Similarly, while we have previously talked about inviting groups under represented in our sport into the fold we have not yet achieved that or even taken serious steps to do so.  For that reason, Marcia Campbell, currently our Women’s Representative, will lead a sub committee that seeks to bring all groups not well represented in our sport, or sport in general, into tug of war. Such groups will include ethnic communities, including our first nation’s peoples.  We also seek to reach communities that are financially disadvantaged that have few recreational options available to them.

Fundraising – While tug of war is inexpensive to participate in, competing at the top international levels is cost prohibitive due to international travel.  To ease that burden and give financially challenged participants the same opportunities as everyone else, we have also created a new Commission, Director of Finance. That person will be a professionally trained fundraiser reporting to the Treasurer.  Our strategic plan and communications strategy will make that job easier.  And effective fundraising will make that strategy more successful.  One hand will work in concert with the other.

Youth Development – Another major step forward will be the long awaited implementation of the Youth Outreach Program, a comprehensive initiative bringing youth into the fold in ways that not only further our sport but also develop the participants in ways totally aside from it.  Ginger McColl, who has competed with the Bluewater Club in Canada and the GLD club of Wisconsin in the recent Outdoor World Championships, is the new Director of that program.  She brings with her a wealth of experience in other competitive sports, such as swimming, as well as her professional experience as a recreational programmer for the YMCA.

Strategic Plan – The overall strategy of CATOWA will soon be available on this web site.  Several of the guiding portions are already available here and define in general terms what we will do, what values we will do that with, what it will look like and why we are doing that.  Such information forms the basis of an introduction to our organization for those already involved in tug of war, those thinking of getting involved, and community and corporate partners.  We need help but we also have value and benefits to offer to those that provide that help.

Spectator Development – The first order of business in the Strategic Plan is sport development, increasing participation.  The second is spectator development, increasing the size and support of those who watch the sport.  That this is not currently a leading spectator sport speaks not to the shortcomings of our sport but to our previously poor efforts in promotion.  No matter how large their fan base, every major sport continually promotes itself in the recognition that there are many interests competing for people’s attention, interest and, in many cases, their money.  In order to grow our sport, increase participation and the pool of potential high performers, we need to and will make big gains in this area.  Recognizing that and working toward addressing that are the first two steps.

Differing Visions and Goals – Living in the vast, diverse country that we do, Canadians are accustomed to differing and sometimes conflicting goals and visions.  We accept that, we have defined our own vision for all to see, and part of our mission is to reach others with it so that they buy in, becoming part of a bigger, stronger collective.  Our mission is simple and our vision is very inclusive and respectful of those visions that differ from our own.  Both are stated clearly and briefly within this web site.  Even if a club has no interest in competing internationally, participation within CATOWA will be a positive experience that enhances their enjoyment of this great sport.  When clubs and individuals join with us and embrace our vision, both they and we will be the better for it, as will the state of this sport in Canada .

Invitation – This sport is fun. Participation in it builds character.  The improved nature of that character in its participants results in the nobility that so many participants and present spectators associate with this sport.  These need not be exclusive of one another.  Our mission includes all three, and we invite you as a club member, as an individual, as a partner or as a spectator to join us in our collective journey in fulfilling that mission.  By defining our organization, communicating our strategy and by reaching out to you, whoever you are, to become a part of that, we invite you to join us or, at the very least, visit this web site often to see how our mission is going.