Leadership in a Time of Eroded Trust
“In times of transformation and change, people get scared and don’t tell the truth. It is not easy to tell the truth. Today, we need brave, new leadership.” Susan Schuman, CEO, SY Partners
The integrity of Canadian soccer at the highest levels and the organizations that support them are now in question following recent allegations of coach and organizational misconduct by some of this country’s prominent female players.
I am NOT speaking up in judgement, as I was not there or directly involved, but we must stand with the victims and take their concerns seriously.My focus is not prosecution, but on systemic change, engagement of stakeholders and building open, respectful, bi-directional communications.
While CMFSC is not involved in these allegations, it is the duty of everyone in this organization and the soccer community overall to ensure there is zero tolerance for harassment and bullying. We need to be better. This also includes me, your president.
During my soccer career, there have been times as a leader that I’ve failed, and as an individual, transgressed. I apologize for falling short and not doing better as an individual! I also apologize for not speaking up years ago as a leader. I deeply regret what has happened to individuals in our game and am 100% committed to improving the system, ensuring ethical accountability, protecting future generations and preserving the many unique benefits team sports provides young athletes. I know we can do better.
My wife kindly highlighted Oprah’s often referred to quote from Maya Angelou: “Do the BEST you can until you know better. Then, when you KNOW better, DO better.”
As a son of a mother who is a Lifetime Member of BC Soccer (Bless her!), the father of a young woman, a volunteer coach (15 yrs.) in the female game, a volunteer director and less than notable ex-player, I am COMPELLED to speak up, despite my own shortcomings and insignificance.
I promise you that I will work towards:
- Making our sport safe for ALL participants (players, coaches, officials and board members
- Providing comprehensive, progressive, fair and transparent governance and oversight structures
- Engaging all stakeholders through education and communication to better protect the game
- Ensuring that fears of repercussions never get in the way of a stakeholder or observer speaking up
Moving forward, I understand:
- My role as an organizational leader is to protect EVERYONE in my organization – players, parents, volunteers, coaches, officials, staff and board members
- There is due process, that those directly affected must come forward and the appropriate authorities engaged, as and if appropriate and desired
- There is a legal obligation to report situations to the police where a child or young person (under 19) needs protection because they, for example, are being abused, neglected or sexually exploited
- An adult or guardian has a choice as to whether or not to pursue matters with the authorities
- Employers and organizations are not able to disclose personal information, due to personal privacy laws and legal liability
- Leagues, districts, provincial bodies have NO control over personnel decisions at clubs
There is no doubt we ARE getting better. Despite being very uncomfortable, this conversation and others throughout society are contributing to greater awareness, improved education and progressive changes. Reference the independent review of Wrestling Canada Open Letter, the requirements of the Canada Soccer National Youth Club License(CSNYCL), the Coaching Association of Canada’s Responsible Coaching Movement and Canada Soccer’s new Guide to Safety.
As organizations, we must accept our failings, face the music, learn tough lessons, apologize, help those affected, ensure processes/policies are in place AND practice ethical leadership accountability. We must DO better NOW because we NOW KNOW better.
In light of the allegations, CMFSC is acknowledging we can do better and today we are announcing a draft plan of action (below). This plan is in the process of being refined and rolled out. We will be working with a variety of agencies to ensure our approach is sound and well thought through, with the intent of implementing as much of the attached plan as possible for the start of the 2019-20 season.
I remain hopeful of deep reflection, accountability, apologies, redress and support from soccer organizations at the highest level locally, nationally and internationally.
Alex Barnetson, President,
Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club