Historical Agreement Signed Moving Pole Sports One Step Closer to Recognition
The Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG), The International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) GAISF (formally known as SportAccord) sign trilateral agreement on 8th August 2017. The agreement finalising the terms and conditions under which the FIG supports the principle for the admission of the IPSF into GAISF has now been signed by all of the three parties involved: GAISF, the IPSF and the FIG.
The final signature was added at GAISF headquarters After the IPSF president Katie Coates met with FIG representative General Secretary André F. Gueisbuhler in June 2017.
Commenting on the agreement, GAISF President, Patrick Bowman hailed what he described as “an important milestone in IPSF’s application process.” He went on to state that, “GAISF is happy to hear that two IF’s could find a common agreement which helps the IPSF to develop its sport and we thank FIG for their constructive cooperation.”
Speaking on behalf of the IPSF Katie Coates added: “Pole Sports is very proud to have taken this positive step forward towards recognition for our sport and its athletes and we would like to thank our partners and co-signatories of this historic agreement. GAISF membership has been our sports goal for the last years and would open up new horizons for the IPSF in terms of its development and its profile on the international stage. It is also important for the growth and expansion of our national federations members, as well as over one million Pole athletes worldwide, we look forward to hearing the outcome of the IPSF's application for GAISF membership and potentially the new Observer Status.”
Is Pole a Sport?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) thinks so. In February 2017, the IOC membership team invited the IPSF to its headquarters to discuss Pole Sports and the IPSF's recent application for IOC recognition. IPSF president Katie Coates called the meeting a “monumental milestone for Pole Sport” and “a historical meeting which cements Pole as a sport and energies our push for recognition with both GAISF and the IOC.”
Pole took a further step towards recognition and participated to the GAISF Membership Information Day held on 15th June 2017 in Lausanne. IPSF might be considered for GAISF's new Observer Status which gives federations that have the GAISF criteria except for the 40 national federations the opportunity to gain the national recognition with the backing of GAISF which has been a huge stumbling block for new sports.
A brief history of Pole Sports
The concept of Pole as a sport dates back to 2006, after pole became a popular fitness form in 2000, pole competitions started gaining popularity. Pole competitions had little or no scoring or judging criteria, no way of fairly awarding points to those athlete that were technically and artistically superior and rules consisted of very little in the way of guidance on what the judges were and were and were not looking for.
In 2006 a survey was carried out by Katie Coates to see how the pole community felt about Pole Sports becoming an Olympic Sport, over 10,000 voted in favour. In 2008 Tim Trautman of the USA began working with Katie on the International Pole Sports Federation and the term Pole Sports was created transforming Pole for ever from a physical activity performed for fitness and socially into to an international sport and competition.
Soon, national federations began forming and competitive teams were organised. The 1st World Pole Sports Championships took place in 2012 with just 43 athletes from 14 countries, only 5 were men. 2013 saw the launch of the Youth category with just 7 athletes, 5 years later in 2017 saw over a 750% increase in the youth category and 229 athletes from 36 countries competing.
By the mid-2011, an estimated 95 percent of all Pole Sports Athletes were girls and women, as a consequence the feedback from the IOC has been to improve the balance which the IPSF have pushed forward and in 2017 male junior and novice categories were opened which helped to increase male participation by more than 550%.
In 2014 the IPSF contacted GAISF regarding the application process and the road to recognition began. The IPSF began aligning itself to the GAISF and IOC criteria over the next 3 years expanding national federations to 25 with a further 12 in the application process.
With over a million pole enthusiasts from over 80 countries and growing, it's safe to say that the future of Pole Sports looks bright. You may have your own opinion on whether you feel pole is a sport or not but what cannot be denied is the drive, passion and speed at which this new sport is moving.
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