British Taekwondo Recruitment Announcement

On behalf of the British Taekwondo Board, I am delighted to announce the outcome of the recent recruitment activity. I would like to thank the Board and Staff for all the effort that went into the process to ensure that things were done thoroughly and professionally.

This provided the platform to receive over 240 applications for 6 posts, to achieve a very strong short-list for interviewing, and to appoint high calibre people. The resultant team will enable the organisation to run as an effective governing body and sporting business that will engage its membership with great support, products and services, will support clubs and instructors, and help participants, volunteers and the whole taekwondo family to enjoy the martial art.

Crucial in the recruitment of Board members was that Sport England Governance Code guidance was followed, including having an Independent Chair (i.e. someone not from taekwondo) and Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) to again be independent, to complement the taekwondo Non-Executive Directors (NEDs, to also ensure taekwondo expertise), and to provide business skills not yet represented within the Board.

Eamonn O’Rourke will take over as Independent Chair.

Eamonn has over 40 years experience in the sport and leisure industry including as Head of Community and Cultural Services Department at Manchester City Council where he was part of the senior leadership team that created the Sports Facility and Sports Development Strategic Plan for Manchester that resulted in the Commonwealth Games coming to the UK in 2002. As well as winning the staging of other World Class events in taekwondo, water polo, squash, swimming, lacrosse, hockey to name a few. He also created strategic partnerships to bring governing bodies, community and school programmes, world class athletes and significant facilities investment to the city. Examples of successes include British Cycling with the National Cycling Centre and of course GB Taekwondo with the high-performance centre in Ten Acres. Eamonn also brings knowledge of taekwondo having been the Independent Chair of the World Championships Stakeholder group that delivered a superb event this May.

Speaking of his appointment, Eamonn commented “I have thoroughly enjoyed watching taekwondo develop in Manchester and across Britain from the vision of Ten Acres to the recent World Championships where the stakeholders and delivery team did an outstanding job, alongside the coaches and the medal winning athletes! I was impressed by the passion of the British Taekwondo Board and the vision to take taekwondo to the next level with a strong operational and partnership base in Manchester. I am excited to support the Board, Staff, Members, Instructors, Volunteers and programmes to ensure that clubs, school community activities and opportunities increase for all to benefit. This, alongside the next phase of world class events coming to this country, will ensure we give ourselves the best opportunity to increase participation and build a legacy for the martial art that will stand it in good stead for many years to come.”

Helen Martin joins the Board as an Independent Non Executive Director responsible for Finance.

Helen is a chartered accountant with over 20 years of experience at a senior financial level, predominantly in the funded sport sector. She spent 15 years at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) where she was Director of Business and Finance. As a member of the board and senior management team Helen provided financial leadership and management of the budget as well as overall responsibility for managing the HR, governance, legal and risk management functions, including ensuring compliance with the Code of Governance.

Speaking of her appointment, Helen said “I have significant experience in sport and felt I wanted to use my finance and governance expertise to help another sporting organisation to grow, develop and fulfil its potential. Having met the Board, I am excited about the challenge ahead with British Taekwondo and look forward to helping the Board, Team, and the wider taekwondo community to flourish.”

Matthew Barnes joins the Board as an Independent Non Executive Director responsible for Legal.

Matthew has over 15 years experience working as a solicitor in the field of sports law in both in-house and in private practice. He currently works for the Rugby Football League as the Head of Legal having spent 5 years in the same role at British Cycling. Matthew’s experience will help British Taekwondo in areas such as governance, policies and procedures, data protection, safeguarding, and providing legal guidance to support business and service growth and development.

Commenting on his new Board position, Matthew said “I am really pleased to be joining the Board at British Taekwondo. I have watched the athletes win medals for some years now and want to be able to help taekwondo maximise that momentum by working with British Taekwondo to support clubs, instructors, members and everyone in the sport to get the most enjoyment out of it, and also to explore new ways British Taekwondo can grow and expand its products and services.”

Ian Leafe will be the new British Taekwondo CEO.

Ian joins us from GB Taekwondo where he was a founding Director and, over the last nine years, Head of Events, successfully delivering multiple World Grand Prix Events, a European Championships, Para World Championships and most recently leading a team of staff, Taekwondo family and volunteers to host the spectacular World Championships at Manchester Arena. Ian brings extensive business, governance and specific Taekwondo management knowledge and experience to British Taekwondo. Together with high level working relationships with our key stakeholders such as World Taekwondo, World Taekwondo Europe, UK Sport, DCMS, Sport England, Manchester City Council, and the Mayor of London’s Office.

Ian’s own roots in the martial art and sport, as an athlete, a club coach for more than 30 years experience, Kukkiwon 8th Dan, Class 1 National & “S” Class international referee (and one of few British officials to referee at an Olympic Games) will provide an insight and vital perspective on the day-to-day experiences, challenges and opportunities for club instructors, committee leads and members.

On accepting the CEO role, Ian said “My drive has always been to create benefits and opportunities for taekwondo people, giving them access to things we never had or dreamed of, such as delivering a World Championships on home soil, something we never thought possible. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without great support from partners, particularly Manchester and UK Sport, and a dedicated group of taekwondo loving people. When people work together – great things can happen!

I’m sad to be leaving GB Taekwondo, but equally I am excited and prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities that face British Taekwondo. I want to help to create a world leading Member National Association. I want to listen, collaborate and support the thousands of passionate taekwondo instructors, coaches, referees and competitors who work so hard week after week, and with the new Board’s direction, create the right, fair and transparent structures, events and support tools to really grow taekwondo across all disciplines of our great art and sport. My approach will be to encourage, share ideas, help clubs to thrive and to retain and grow members where relevant. I believe that recognising and rewarding people is what it’s all about.”

Commenting on Ian’s appointment, CEO at GB Taekwondo, Matt Archibald added: “We are delighted that Ian’s significant contribution to taekwondo has been recognised with this exciting appointment. During his time with GB Taekwondo Ian has helped establish our international reputation as a leading taekwondo event host, culminating in the stunning delivery of the World Championships in Manchester in 2019.  Julia Newton (Chair), Gary Hall (Performance Director), and I are very much looking forward to working with Ian in his new role at British Taekwondo. Well done, many thanks, and good luck in the new role Ian!’

Ian will start on 5th August 2019.

Already recently joined the British Taekwondo Staff are:

Emily Moore as the new Membership Services Officer. Emily has held a number of customer service roles and has welfare and sporting experience having worked at a Sports Academy. She has a passion for sport, has an MSc in Psychology and double honours in Sports and Exercise Sciences.

Karen Welsh as Office Finance and Admin Officer on a part-time basis covering 22.5 hours per week. Karen has almost 30 years experience in various roles at the Royal Bank of Scotland, including helping small & medium sized businesses. Karen is AAT qualified and has experience in various accounting systems and applications. She has also volunteered as a Treasurer in her local community.

Current Staff Members based in the Manchester office, Rhiannon Prestage will take on a wider Marketing & Media role, while James Docherty will take a lead on Development, particularly for clubs, instructors, and volunteers. Liz Behnke, who is based away from the office, will continue to lead on Safeguarding.

Commenting on the steps taken by British Taekwondo over the last six months in Manchester, Yarv Abbas, Strategic Sport Lead for Manchester City Council added “Since we were able to conclude the relocation of British Taekwondo to Manchester, we have been excited about the potential for the grassroots of the sport to even better meet the demand in the city and surrounding area. Also to aid the Manchester partnership work with GB Taekwondo to continue to connect and maximise the resource and taekwondo activity taking place in the Ten Acres city-located high-performance training centre. Jonny and the team have certainly pushed things on the last six months and we look forward to working with the new British Taekwondo office team and Board alongside GB Taekwondo and all the taekwondo stakeholders to benefit from each others expertise as well as the World Class events over the next 4 years.”

The Board has ambitious and immediate plans for the summer and look forward to presenting progress and talking with the Members at the AGM, as well as meeting the Members and families at the National Championships amongst other activities in the coming months.

It has been a pleasure to be Interim Chair since the AGM last November, working with the Board and Staff over the last 7 months, and a real privilege to see the momentum over recent weeks with the new team members joining the organisation. My 3-year term is up this year, but to conclude formalities, I will continue to support Eamonn, the Board, Ian and the Staff until the next AGM later in the year.

There is plenty to be done, but we are up for the challenge, and look forward to doing it with the input and support of everyone in taekwondo.

Jonny Cowan (INED & Interim Chair)