Socga’s annual general meeting-Gopal gets sixth mandate as president,as seven other members retain posts


The newly elected Socga executive committee.
Front row (from left to right): Hétimier, Gopal, Célestine and Alcindor
Back row (from left to right): Dora, Malbrook, Adam, Bau and Banane

(Photo by G. G.)

Antonio Gopal said this to Sports Nation late Saturday afternoon after he was given another four-year mandate to lead the local Olympic body – Socga – which represents both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

Socga was previously known as Seychelles National Olympic Committee (Snoc) until March 2007. Snoc came into existence in 1979 when Seychelles became a member of the IOC.

Gopal and his team of nine were elected into office during Socga’s annual general meeting at the National Baha’i Centre, Bel Air.

The vote

Challenged by Ronald Wong for the presidency, Gopal won the vote on a 17-6 score for a sixth consecutive four-year mandate as president – four years after registering an overwhelming 20-1 win against Gian Carlo Lauro.

Gopal was first elected president in 1992 after serving as an ordinary member on the first Snoc executive committee from 1979 to 1982 and as secretary general on the second from 1982 to 1991.
Like Mr Gopal, Hughes Adam has also retained his post as vice-president after amassing 18 votes – the same total he got in 2007. His challenger Jeffrey Lagrenade got just 5 votes.

This is the fourth time Adam, who took office in 1997, is re-elected as vice-president after 2001, 2005 and 2009.

Unchallenged in 2009, secretary general Alain Alcindor beat Barbara Hoareau by 9 votes – 16-7 – in the election for the post of secretary general. This is his third mandate after joining the local Olympic body as an ordinary member in 1994.

Mary Banane has also been re-elected as treasurer, winning the poll 15-8 against Charlie Ng Ping Cheun. This is Mrs Banane’s second mandate as treasurer. She was first elected into the post in 2009 after taking over from Ivan Roberts, who resigned in September 2007.

Of the 12 candidates, four were elected to serve as ordinary members on the executive committee and the fifth is the athletes’ commission representative Simone Malbrook.

Selby Dora (18 votes), Michel Bau (14 votes) and Donald Célestine (10) got the highest number of ballots to claim their places on the executive committee and they were later joined by Tracey Hétimier who survived another two rounds of voting.

Hétimier was one of three candidates along with Norbert Dogley, Lucas Georges and Barbara Hoareau to finish with 8 votes in the first round of voting. In the second round, Hétimier and Dogley were again tied at 7-7 as Hoareau (5 votes) and Georges (4 votes) had to leave the race.

Hétimier then outscored Dogley 12-7 to retain her seat on the executive committee for a second mandate.

Bau was first elected into office in 2001 and is serving his fourth mandate, while Dora, who joined the executive committee in 2003 after Jocelyn Humphrey resigned, has been given a vote of confidence for a third time – in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

Célestine is serving his second mandate after replacing Dogley on the committee in 2009.
Simon Lespoir is the only member to lose his seat.

The other five candidates were Simon Lespoir (3 votes), Jeffrey Lagrenade (7 votes), Charlie Ng Ping Cheun (2 votes) and Bernard Denis (1 vote). Garry Albert withdrew his candidature at the last minute.

Representatives of the athletes’ commission and the 23 associations and federations affiliated to Socga were allowed to vote during the elections.

The 23 sports federations and associations are track and field athletics, boxing, basketball, badminton, volleyball, football, table tennis, tennis, swimming, judo, karate, rugby, handball, hockey, petanque, canoeing, chess, cycling, squash, gymnastics, weightlifting, yachting, and netball. Only rugby was absent.

The athletes’ commission and all the 23 associations and federations have one vote.

Sports federations and associations nominate candidates, who are then elected by secret ballot to serve on Socga’s executive committee.

Candidates need not be members of any federation or association, but they have to be nominated by sporting federations and associations who are members of Socga.

‘A mission for the country’

Speaking to the media at the end of the meeting and the photo session, Mr Gopal said he was happy to see that a lot of people want to be part of the Socga executive committee to work for the betterment of Seychelles’ sports.

He noted that local sporting federations and associations see Socga as the focal point and possibly the link to a better working relationship with the sports department and the National Sports Council (NSC).

“Every federation and association is asking for help – be it financial, human resource including coaches – to help their sport grow.
“Locally certain things can be done to achieve results in big international competitions. This is a mission for the country, which will be accomplished along with the sports department, NSC as well as the Socga and all of those who love sports,” stressed Mr Gopal.

He noted that there is a need to make a collective decision on what we want to achieve and how to achieve it.
“Seychellois sports lovers hate it when our teams lose. There is, therefore, a need for us (Socga), NSC and the government to make maximum use of the scarce resources available.

“There were also calls for a better sports structure where young talents will be spotted and nurtured into quality sportsmen and women. This structure will also include what happens with the athletes after they have retired or can no longer compete or work as a result of injuries sustained while competing. The training of coaches and all involved with the development of quality athletes will also have to be included in the system,” added Mr Gopal who is still active in sports and competed in the 110m hurdles at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 – the year Seychelles made its first appearance in the biggest multi-sports competition.

He noted that with the coming into force last year of the Physical Education and School Sports (PESS) strategy – an agreement between the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports – he hopes some of these issues will be dealt with.

The PESS forms part of the ongoing revision in the local sports structure and it will ensure that necessary structures are put in place to properly carry out and monitor the delivery of the national school sport programme.

As he switched back to the newly elected executive committee which he has described as “very effective”, Mr Gopal noted that all members should deliver by taking on their responsibilities.

“I don’t expect to see the secretary general continue doing most of the work. All members have to chip in as they will be given different portfolios – mass sports, environment, education and culture, and women, to name just a few,” concluded Mr Gopal, who is for improved communication and more meetings between the different partners to tackle issues early.
Meanwhile, the Seychelles Basketball Federation also won the cup for the best sporting federation/association for the year 2012.

G. G.

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